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“Volkswagen accepts climate responsibility”

The Volkswagen Group has a clear plan that shows its commitment to the Paris climate protection targets. Limits on global warming and the transition to e-mobility are among the key issues at the Handelsblatt Car Summit.

Speaking at the opening of the Car Summit in the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Michael Jost, Head of Group Product Strategy and Chief Strategy Officer of the Volkswagen brand, made it clear that the vision of CO2-neutral mobility was deeply embedded at Volkswagen. It was about more than future intentions – Volkswagen had already embarked on this process, he emphasized. “We took advantage of the crisis to realign the Group. Now we are implementing our plan.”

Jost used the example of the compact Volkswagen ID.*, which will be built in Zwickau from 2019 onward. “The car will be delivered to customers as a CO2-neutral product.” This would be made possible by focusing on high energy efficiency and the use of green power during the production phase, including the supply chain. In addition, unavoidable emissions will be offset by investments in forest protection or afforestation. Even during the use phase, the car can be driven with zero impact on CO2 emissions, if customers opt for the use of green power.  

50 new electric models

The compact ID. is only one example of the expansion of electromobility. By 2025, the Volkswagen Group’s brands will increase the number of purely electric cars from the current 6 to over 50 – including the entire ID. family, which is based on the new MEB electric platform. “We will launch a model offensive that will electrify the world.” We already have 15 million vehicles in firm projects,” said Jost. “Our electric cars are not austerity vehicles, but add value and are fun to drive. What is more, they will be marketed at affordable prices.” The Group was planning capital expenditure of more than 30 billion euros for electrification.

Jost was adamant that global warming could only be limited to the agreed maximum of two degrees if there was an immediate change of course. Industry accounts for 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while 14 percent is attributable to transportation. The mobility sector could not solve the problems on its own, but had to forge ahead regardless. The Group was ready to do so. “Volkswagen wants to do more than comply with legal requirements, Volkswagen accepts social responsibility for the climate. The Volkswagen Group has a clear plan, which shows its commitment to the Paris climate targets.”

CO₂-neutral fleet

To meet the 2-degree target, the entire vehicle fleet must become CO2-neutral by 2050. What seems a long way away is in fact very close. Jost explained the timetable:

  • To meet this target, all vehicles sold from around 2040 onward will have to be CO2-neutral, because it takes about ten years to renew the fleet.
  • This means that we will see the start of production of the last conventional models in around 2033.
  • The use of the last generation of conventional vehicle platforms may begin as early as 2026. “In fact, our colleagues are already working on this final platform,” said Jost.

Jost explained that no car manufacturer would, by itself, be able to turn electromobility into a model for success. The necessary charging infrastructure, for example, could only be developed as a joint effort. 

Oliver Zipse, the Board Member responsible for production at BMW, was confident that improvements to the charging infrastructure were making rapid progress. It had now become a way to make money. The automotive industry was as committed to the process as energy utilities and municipalities. “The development will be successful.” The charging infrastructure was getting an additional boost from the product side. BMW was planning a number of new electric models for the coming years, based on flexible production. Previously, the CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen, Wolf-Henning Schneider, had announced large investments in electromobility and digitalization.

The Golf of the electric era

Thomas Ulbrich, the Board Member responsible for e-mobility at the Volkswagen brand, stressed that, through the ID. family, the company would make electromobility attractive and affordable for millions of people. The new models would take the best advantage of the potential of the electric car – in the design and size of the vehicle interior, for example, thus creating a new kind of mobility experience.

By 2022, the company would manufacture electric cars at 16 locations in three regions of the world, announced Ulbrich. Volkswagen had already reshaped the automotive industry and people’s mobility on two occasions in the past, by launching the Beetle and the Golf. He was positive that it could be done a third time. Ulbrich: “The Golf of the electric era must also be a Volkswagen.”

Fuel consumption  

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May also be of interest

In a guest contribution on the Car Summit in the Handelsblatt, CEO Herbert Diess, too, commented on environmental and climate protection:
German energy mix slows down e-mobility