Volkswagen is investing a lot of money in electric vehicle development, the company’s CEO announced on Monday.
It’s quite a dramatic shift of objectives for Volkswagen. Earlier this year, the automotive giant announced an initial $10 billion investment in electric vehicles (EVs), significantly lower than they were devoting even to gas-powered cars. Now, they’re putting EVs under the spotlight with a promised 70 billion euro (roughly $84 billion USD) investment, and a stated goal to put 300 EV models on the market by 2030.
The lion’s share of this investment, some 50 billion euros (about $60 billion) will be going towards designing and producing battery equipment for these vehicles.
While at an event in Frankfurt on Monday, VW’s CEO Matthias Mueller told attendees that the shift in objectives comes because “a company like Volkswagen must lead, not follow.”
“We have got the message and we will deliver,” he added. “This is not some vague declaration of intent. It is a strong self-commitment which, from today, becomes the yardstick by which we measure our performance.”
A leaked slide from a VW presentation about the upcoming vehicles shows the company has 4 new EV models coming out under the VW brand the next few years, and several others under the Audi, Porsche, and other brains owned by the corporation.
It’s still all talk and no action yet, but it’s a sign that significant changes are taking place in VW’s business models. Mueller has been a proponent of EVs ever since taking up the mantle of CEO after Dieselgate. The company’s board of directors was opposed, however, so electric cars have seen little love from VW until now. But this recent (and quite significant) investment schedule for EVs means the board is turning around on the idea, and are looking to get a foot in the market.
It’s also encouraging to see such a large part of the sum going towards the battery supply side. VW has previously said they need 40 Tesla Gigafactory-size battery factories by 2025 to support electric car production, and such a huge injection of capital would help fund a rapid expansion in battery production capability over the next few years.
It’s also important to look at this announcement in the larger context of the EU. The UK, France, and most recently Scottland, have announced fossil-fuel vehicle bans for the following years. With political pressure on one hand, and a push from manufacturers on the other, EVs are bound to take the fast-lane towards markets all over the old world.
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