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  6. Electric mobility must have priority

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Electric mobility must have priority

In a joint interview, Green Party leader Robert Habeck and Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess argue for a consistent collaborative approach to help electric vehicles achieve their breakthrough.

Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess and Green party leader Robert Habeck have together spoken out in favor of promoting electric mobility in both politics and business. “We need clarity. We must consistently focus on e-mobility if we still want to achieve our climate goals,” Habeck said in a joint interview with the daily newspaper DIE WELT. “Time is running out for us. That is why I am in favour of a clear strategic decision.” Diess added: “Where political support is involved, for pragmatic reasons we should give priority to electric mobility.” According to him, the development of several charging infrastructures for different technologies would be too costly. “All the indicators suggest that e-mobility is the most efficient alternative technology in the short and medium term. The aim is to achieve the climate goals that have been set. To do this, we must now act purposefully,” Diess said.

Lively discussion: Diess and Habeck exchanging ideas
Picture: ©Martin Lengemann (DIE WELT)

Furthermore, Habeck advocated the rapid development of a charging infrastructure for electric drives, the acceleration of the expansion of the power grid, and a conversion of the control system. “Purely electric vehicles pay less or nothing, fuel guzzlers pay more. Such a system is socially just and can steer things in an ecological direction.” According to Habeck, it is foreseeable that company car privileges will apply only to emission-free vehicles. “This would provide a strong incentive to convert the vehicle fleet in an ecological manner.” Diess called for a rapid reduction in the proportion of coal used in electricity production: “It doesn't make sense to drive electric vehicles if coal-fired power stations are generating the electricity.”

Affordable small e-cars are major challenge

Relaxed atmosphere: Diess and Habeck among Volkswagen models at Group headquarters
Picture: ©Martin Lengemann (DIE WELT)

The participants expressed disagreement concerning both possible traffic regulations through road pricing and the timely market launch of low-cost e-vehicles. Diess declared that the affordability of electric mobility in the lower price segment was a major challenge. He appealed to politicians to “consider how to promote small cars, because this would be the right direction, ecologically speaking.” On the other hand, Habeck called on Diess to offer an e-vehicle for less than €20,000 by 2025, otherwise Volkswagen would not succeed in the market. 

The discussion is published in a 40-page special issue of the daily newspaper DIE WELT on the “Mobility of the Future”. Volkswagen CEO Diess spent a day as guest editor-in-chief at the Berlin headquarters of the daily newspaper, and curated the issue together with WELT editor-in-chief Ulf Poschardt.

In dialogue: Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, and Thomas Steg, General Representative of the Volkswagen Group for External Relations and Sustainability
Picture: ©Martin Lengemann (DIE WELT)

In another interview on this topic, Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of Deutsche Umwelthilfe, and Thomas Steg, General Representative of the Volkswagen Group for External Relations and Sustainability, argue about Euro 6 diesel vehicles and retrofits, driving bans and the correct strategy for the electric era. Resch criticizes the Volkswagen Group for still relying far too much on heavy SUVs, and sleeping through the development of e-mobility.

Steg, on the other hand, emphasizes that Volkswagen is focusing on switching to electric mobility at just the right moment. “He who starts first doesn’t always reach the finish line first,” Steg says. “We will set the pace. I'm promising that we’ll democratize electric mobility to a certain extent. Volkswagen will offer electric cars for less than €30,000. This will make electric mobility affordable for most people.”