Cleaning Up Their Act
Volkswagen (VW) has announced plans to offer an electric version of each of their 300 car models by 2030. The automaker will invest €20 billion ($25 billion) in the project and has plans to invest another €50 billion ($59.8 billion) on batteries.
"Customers want clean vehicles," VW chief Matthias Mueller told the BBC at the Frankfurt Motor Show. "People want to have clean air, and we want to make our contribution here."
VW is the first major auto manufacturer to make this kind of commitment to electric vehicles. However, other companies are taking similar steps — Mercedes-Benz has stated its intent to offer electric or hybrid versions of all its cars by 2022.
German automakers are in a race to clean up their act following the recent emissions scandal, which was predominantly centered around VW but also affected the likes of Mercedes. In August, Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the country would eventually ban the sale of new diesel German vehicles, although no timeline was set.
Since the auto industry is Germany's biggest export, and it accounts for some 800,000 jobs, it's crucial that the sector finds ways to reduce its reliance on diesel.
Fuel for Thought
The world is shifting toward electric vehicles, but it's proving to be a gradual process. For economic and practical reasons, we can't expect cars powered by traditional fuel sources to disappear overnight.
"There will be a coexistence between internal combustion engines and electric drive systems for a certain period," Mueller said to the BBC. "I can't tell you how long that will be." However, it seems that governments, not automakers, will be in control of the schedule.
This week, China's deputy industry ministry confirmed that the country is working on a timetable to cease the production and sale of gasoline-powered cars. Earlier this year, France committed to a cut-off date of 2040, and the UK followed this lead not long afterward.
Electric vehicles are certainly becoming more widely used, both for personal transportation and in industrial applications. As the technology becomes more popular, we're seeing further advances in their capacity to make driving more eco-friendly.
China remains the leader in terms of electric vehicles on the road, but a shift is taking place all around the world. One recent report indicated that petrol and diesel vehicles will have been outpaced in Europe by 2035 — which certainly seems in line with the timeline VW has in place for its transition.