Volkswagen Wants More PHEVs As EV Demand Reaches ‘Plateau’: CEO

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Volkswagen, the maker of the ID.4 electric crossover, wants to include more plug-in hybrids in its portfolio as the demand for all-electric vehicles is experiencing a “plateau,” the company’s CEO Thomas Schafer said yesterday during the Financial Times Future of the Car conference in London.

Asked by Autocar if VW (the brand, not the group) would continue investing in hybrids, the company’s head honcho said that if he had been asked the same question last year, he would have said, “Forget hybrids, it’s expensive technology, it’s not worth it.”

Times have changed, however. “Within the last six months, all of a sudden everyone wants hybrids,” Schafer said, echoing remarks from Nissan, Hyundai and Toyota, all of whom want to expand their hybrid and plug-in hybrid portfolios in the coming months.

The European Union and the United States have passed legislation requiring automakers to slash the tailpipe emissions of their light-duty vehicles, so going down the hybrid and plug-in hybrid route makes sense for car companies, at least in the short term. 

It’s also good for consumers, who should see a slight improvement in gas consumption and regional air quality, but at the end of the day, it’s a stopgap, and VW’s boss knows it.

“It’s a bridge technology,” Schafer said. “While battery-electric drive is plateauing out a bit at the moment, we still need this transitional technology.” The goal is to go all-electric and VW’s CEO is “absolutely sure” about this.

There’s just one problem. Currently, Volkswagen doesn’t sell a single hybrid or plug-in hybrid model in the United States. For U.S. customers, it’s either the ID.4 EV or gas power, but that might change in the future as stricter tailpipe emissions regulations go into effect.

In Europe, the Golf, Passat, and Tiguan PHEVs use a 1.5-liter gasoline engine, an electric motor, and a roughly 20-kilowatt-hour high-voltage battery to offer up to 62 miles of all-electric range on the WLTP testing procedure.

Schafer didn’t say if the PHEV portfolio will be expanded to the U.S., but said the company doesn’t need a plug-in offering “in every single model and in every single region.” Instead, the development will focus on boosting the electric range and cutting costs.

That said, would you pay out of pocket to buy a Volkswagen PHEV if it would be available stateside? Let us know in the comments.

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