Ricardo Tomaz, Volkswagen marketing director, in an interview for the Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negócios, shares his vision about the future of cars. He starts by saying that they will be autonomous and electric. [Good start, we can all agree with him…]
He then adds that the big push for electric cars only comes from more demanding European emission standards, which will get tougher in 2021. [Ok, we already knew that Capitalism has a tendency to self-destruct and needs to be regulated if we want a planet to live in…]
In 2021, the current emission test cycle (NEDC) will be fully replaced by a more demanding one (WLTP) and automakers will have to adjust their total fleet emissions. The WLTP will be introduced gradually, starting this year.
Ricardo Tomaz recognizes good examples for pushing electric car’s adoption, such as positive discrimination in Norway and the ongoing development of a nationwide fast charging infrastructure in Portugal. However, his most important statement is that the battery kWh cost is already at 200 €. Which in itself isn’t surprising, considering that Tesla and GM are already below that figure. The surprise is Volkswagen basically admitting that the battery cost isn’t a problem, yet the company keeps delaying the introduction of affordable electric cars…
The electric car had always to fight some myths, one of them was that electric cars were expensive because batteries have forbidden costs. Legacy automakers still hold on to this myth to justify making overpriced electric cars to keep the demand low – this way they can keep selling polluting cars they love so much. To keep this useful myth alive they often say that batteries are very costly, while keeping details about the real cost secret. Yet from time to time, automakers officials admit that battery cost isn’t a problem for electric cars, currently it’s just a myth.
Volkswagen has more difficulties than others in justifying why it keeps its electric cars cost prohibitive, since it uses shared platforms for multiple powertrains, it’s easy to compare the electric with other variants. For example, in Germany the Volkswagen e-up! has a starting price of 26.900 €, while the gas variant starts at 9.975 €. This 16.925 € price difference is outrageous, even more considering that the small 18,7 kWh battery – in the much simpler to build electric version – doesn’t cost Volkswagen more than 4.000 €.
Overall I liked this interview, Ricardo Tomaz seems to be well informed about electric cars and it’s nice to see him – accidentally – recognizing that the battery cost as the reason why electric cars are so expensive is just a myth. However the question remains, why Volkswagen needs to be forced by regulation to start selling more affordable electric cars, instead of taking the opportunity to lead the way?!
With each passing day I’m more convinced that the best incentive for automakers to sell non polluting cars, it’s to make selling polluting cars much harder. Instead of incentives to buy electric cars, we need to make ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars a lot more expensive to buy and run – with more carbon and fuel taxes.
What do you think is the most effective way to make automakers shift to non polluting cars?