Volkswagen Wants To Beat Tesla and lead The Electric Vehicle Market — But Does It Have A Chance?

Volkswagen might be coming out of the Dieselgate scandal still, but it’s determined to set itself up as a major automaker that can do anything any other automaker can. Including lead the world in electric vehicles.

So much so that this week, Volkswagen executives were yet again ramping up the rhetoric, claiming that Volkswagen could do anything that Tesla could — but better.
It’s all too easy to laugh these claims off as implausible, especially given how little traction Volkswagen has right now in the electric vehicle marketplace. But could it succeed or not? And what hurdles lie ahead?

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  • Farmer_Dave

    When you repeat the trope about Tesla’s “losses” you should note that Tesla enjoys a gross profit of more than 20% on each car it delivers, with the “losses” being the result of tremendous investment in future production such as gigafactory(s) and automated production facilities. Many investors recognize this important distinction, which is why Tesla’s stock price keeps increasing to the point where its market cap exceeds that of any other domestic manufacturer.

    • Jeff Laurence

      The wonderful, but very expensive S and X models do allow for a profit on present models but I think it’s safe to assume the 3 will be a loss leader until production ramps up. I also think Nikki was addressing Tesla as a company and in that regard they are still operating at a loss. They may turn that around someday but their ambitious schedule makes that unlikely to happen soon.

    • Martin Lacey

      I don’t think Nikki is disparaging Tesla’s finances, but is just making two strong cases – one for Tesla, the other for VW!

  • Jeff Laurence

    I wish VW luck. A very affordable EV would shake the ICE’s dominant market share. The Bolt has made a long range EV’s attainable for many more people. An inexpensive EV with decent range would make them desirable. I know they showed a disregard for the environment in the past but coming through with their “people’s car” would erase the harm of their past misdeeds..

  • Martin Lacey

    Thanks Nikki for keeping it real. I thought you did a great job of exploring both cases for or against VW’s stated ambition to overtake Tesla.

  • dm33

    Talk is cheap. VW has done NOTHING so far. They won’t even sell a 80 mile range Golf outside of carb states. They’re doing the minimum they have to do.

    They are a joke in the EV world. Not to be taken seriously. By the time they actually get around to thinking of doing something it will be far too late. Its probably already too late for them regardless of their size.

  • Falkenlurch

    VW lost much respect with dieselgate and their “green” effords always look half hearted. They don’t really want to switch to EV since that means a loss of millions in maintenance and service. EV cars only have 200 moving parts, ICE over 2000 and need oil and checks. That’s big money VW doesn’t want to lose, so they undersell EV for decades now.

  • dlwatib

    Right now this looks like little more than trash talk from VW. In order to be the EV leader by 2025 they have to target not where Tesla is today, but where Tesla will be in 2025. VW has yet to announce their first gigafactory. Without bringing their battery research & development and production in house they are doomed to be an EV also-ran. By 2025 Tesla will probably be building out Gigafactory 5 and producing multiple millions of vehicles annually, from Model 3 up to long haul semi trucks. Tesla is on an exponential growth curve and is doubling in size every year and a half or so. It’s hard to imagine how they could grow any faster. While VW doesn’t have to grow their whole company like Tesla does, they do have to grow their EV business faster than that if they want to gain on Tesla. Meanwhile, and this is crucial, for every EV sale, VW will be cannibalizing one of their own ICE vehicle sales. They will meet incredible internal opposition to doing that. Of course, if they don’t make the EV sale then they leave themselves open to losing the sale to some other company altogether who has a more compelling EV. ICE sales are doomed. So they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and they’re in the same boat as all other ICE auto makers. Furthermore they are at the back of the boat because they were so heavily invested in diesels and that investment is now worthless. Other auto makers, like GM, at least dabbled in EV technology, even if they weren’t serious in actually bringing EVs to market.

    • Jeff Laurence

      I’m not really sure why grabbing a share of the EV business would impact the sales of their ICE cars more than other car manufacturers. It seems obvious that electric cars are the future so why not grab as big a share of the market as possible? As battery costs drop, these cars will become just as profitable as any other car. Climb aboard now or risk getting lapped by the competition.