Volkswagen is hitting the accelerator on electric car development. At its annual media conference in Berlin on Tuesday, the automaker announced that it will produce electrified vehicles at no fewer than 16 locations around the world by the end of 2022.VW has chosen battery suppliers for its European and Chinese-market products, adding that “a supplier decision for North America will be taken shortly,” the automaker said in a statement. The battery contracts that VW has already signed total nearly $25 billion.The plan, previously dubbed “Roadmap E,” is to produce up to 3 million electrified vehicles per year by 2025, with no fewer than 80 electrified models spread throughout its dozen-strong brand lineup, a portfolio that includes VW, Audi, Porsche and Bugatti, among others. Roadmap E calls for 50 battery-electric vehicles and 30 plug-in hybrid models by 2025, with up to a quarter of all new VW Group models being purely electric powered by that point. By 2030, the German automaker will offer at least one version of each of the Group’s 300 models.
That breakneck pace will amount to around one new EV launch “virtually every month,” said VW Group CEO Matthias Müller.Among the VW Group’s near-term electric plans? Launching the Audi E-Tron crossover SUV beginning later this year (US availability will likely come a bit later), as well as VW’s own I.D. sub-brand of EVs, which will include the Neo hatchback. According to previous reports, North America’s first I.D.-badged vehicle will likely be a crossover SUV.Perhaps most surprisingly, VW has confirmed that its self-driving EV concept, Sedric, is headed for production. The unusual, pod-like autonomous shuttle debuted at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Cedric is the first and only concept vehicle to wear VW Group branding (as opposed to a specific marque), but Müller says the vehicle will shortly be “leaving the Group for refinement into a series product at one of our brands.” It is not immediately clear which brand Sedric is being developed under or whether it will maintain its self-driving capabilities (let alone its timeframe for delivery).
If anything, Sedric seems more likely to live under VW’s new Moia ride-hailing startup brand than it does under something like Volkswagen, Audi or Skoda. VW has already shown a willingness to brand vehicles under Moia, as proven by its recent van concept.VW has been under extreme internal and external pressure to revamp its business model and corporate culture after Dieselgate came to light in 2015. The diesel engine emissions-cheating scandal has had a significant and lasting impact on the company’s bottom line, and has been a leading contributor that led to the decision to double-down on its electrification strategy.