Sorry Elon Musk fans, Volkswagen (OTC: VLKAY) has positioned itself to dominate the electric vehicle market. The German auto giant is making a massive investment in electric trucks and buses, and laying the groundwork for an independent European Gigafactory.
Volkswagen will invest $1.7 billion (€1.38 billion) in electric trucks and buses over the next five years, Electrek reported. The investment includes plans for two electric powered cargo vans and autonomous vehicles.
Volkswagen Plans Electric Cargo Vans
“The eCrafter is a high-performing van with a range of up to about 200 kilometers,” Dr. Eckhard Scholz, CEO of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said at Innovation day in Hamburg on 12 October 2017. “The vehicle will be shipped to selected customers by the end of 2017.”
“The VW I.D. Buzz Cargo, a compact van that runs on electricity, is also being developed,” Scholz said. “It’s design and suitability for day-to-day life reminiscent of those of the classic VW Bulli.”
That means VW is planning an electric minivan to compact with the super popular Chrysler Pacifica and Ford Transit Connect. The Bulli is the German nickname for the Volkswagen bus famously driven by cash-strapped hippies in the 1960s. Contrary to popular belief, even in the 1960s, most American Hippies preferred Ford and Dodge vans.
VW Plans Electric Semis
Volkswagen’s MAN Truck & Bus division is planning to put electric semis on the road in Europe this year.
“We plan to deliver the first nine fully electric trucks to our customers in Austria by the end of 2017 – including large supermarket chains, breweries and haulers,” MAN CEO Joachim Drees announced at Innovation Day.
“Electric drives and distribution are a match made in heaven,” Drees pointed out. “The drives are quiet, do not produce any emissions locally, and are a perfect fit for customers’ requirements.”
Smaller vehicles for use such as delivery and garbage trucks are also in the works at MAN. Few specific details of the smaller details and the semis were provided.
“We will be launching the first small set of vehicles on the market at the end of 2018,” Drees claimed.
If all that was not enough, Volkswagen hopes to have electric buses on the road by 2020. The market for such vehicles might be huge because large cities like Paris, Munich, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City are looking to ban diesel-powered transport in an effort to curb pollution, the BBC reported.
Volkswagen invests in European Giga Factory effort
VW’s Scania subsidiary is planning to invest €10 million ($12.5 million) in an effort build an independent European Gigafactory, Electrotek reported.
Nothvolt Labs founded by former Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) executives Peter Carlson and Paolo Cerruti, is planning to develop a factory capable of producing enough lithium-ion batteries to store eight gigawatts of electricity a year. Carlson and Cerruti previously worked on Tesla’s Gigafactory in Storey County, Nevada.
The most likely location for the Northvolt Gigafactory would be in Vasteras, Sweden. Northvolt and Scania are planning to establish a research facility in Vasteras. Northvolt’s plans rival Tesla’s its’ long-term goal is to manufacture enough batteries to store 32 Gigawatts of electricity by 2022.
The market for all those batteries might be there Ford, General Motors, Tata, BMW, Volvo, Toyota, and Daimler all have huge electric car plans and they all will need batteries. So will truck makers; such as Cummins, and Paccar, and the all the companies planning electric-powered flying cars.
Europe might soon be awash in lithium-ion batteries, Volkswagen has plans for its own Gigafactory in its’ hometown of Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony. It appears that Tesla Motors might be only a niche player in the electric-car business.