Volkswagen commits $1.7 billion to electric trucks
Volkswagen‘s commitment to electric vehicles just got even larger, both in its scope and the size of the vehicles.
Volkswagen Group, the parent company of big-name automakers like VW, Audi, and Porsche, just outlined plans to electrify bigger vehicles like trucks and busses. VW Truck & Bus division head Andreas Renschler told Bloomberg the Group will commit 1.4 billion euros (about US$1.7 billion) by 2022 to develop EV drivetrains and other tech, along with autonomous systems and cloud-based fleet management.
The news came during Volkswagen Group’sInnovation Day event in Hamburg, Germany, which showcased the latest developments from the Truck & Bus division. The heavy-duty vehicles expand VW’s EV offerings beyond the buzzy Microbus and sporty Tesla-killer concepts we’ve seen from its brands thus far.
The new electric systems will be implemented across the Group’s brands, with the all-electric buses from the European MAN and Scania makes slated to hit the roads next year. Developing electric trucks will be a focus, too, and Renschler projects the EVs will be used for more than five percent of local delivery routes by 2025.
Renschler said one of the biggest areas of focus for VW’s development will be improving battery tech to make the heavy-duty EVs more attractive to trucking and delivery companies. Current systems are too bulky and expensive, reducing the load capacity for commercial vehicles — so shrinking them down and making them more efficient could be a key factor in driving adoption.
Volkswagen unveiled an early example of its EV work at the event, a fully-electric delivery truck.
Volkswagen Group previously stated that it would commit $84 billion in EV and battery development for all vehicle types, while VW and U.S. affiliate Navistar announced last month that they would launch an all-electric truck for the North American market by 2019.
Just about every major player in the automotive space has outlined an EV development plan, and companies like Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are hard at work on their own heavy-duty EVs. Tesla is due to unveil its electric Semi next month.
But for VW Group, adopting the new clean systems is more pressing for another reason. The auto giant was caught up in a massive emissions-cheating scandal, dubbed “dieselgate,” back in 2015, for which it paid out an estimated $23 billion in the US and Canada alone. VW’s focus on zero-emission vehicle systems is a step toward regaining trust with both regulators and drivers.