The right moment

The right moment (photo)

The most important motor show in the world. On the eve of the IAA motor show 2013, Group Chairman Martin Winterkorn not only presents new models, but also announces a clear message: The age of electric vehicles has begun for the Volkswagen Group. Here he talks about a special moment along the road to becoming the ecological leader among global automobile manufacturers.

Prof. Dr. Winterkorn, how confident were you when you announced the Volkswagen Group’s big e-mobility campaign in Frankfurt?

I happily admit that taking the message to a global audience was a pretty emotional moment for me. But yes, I was very confident, not least thanks to the four electric cars that were there on the stage beside me. The e-up!1 and the e-Golf2, the Audi A3 e-tron3 and the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid4 not only show how serious we are about e-mobility, but above all how fascinating and diverse this technology is.

Why has it taken the Volkswagen Group so long to bring the first electric models to market?

It was clear to us right from the beginning that an electric vehicle should not feel like an apology on wheels. Customers must be impressed by every aspect of the vehicle – it must be technically mature, perform well in everyday driving, and be safe and affordable. While other people were doing a lot of talking, we got on with development and did the hard work. Now the time is right.

Don’t you just need a few electric cars on the books to become the ecological leader?

Anyone who is serious about protecting the environment must develop the whole spectrum of drive technologies: From highly efficient diesel, petrol and natural gas engines, down to plug-in hybrids and vehicles running purely on battery power. That’s what our Group stands for. What’s more, we think holistically about protecting the environment – from energy generation across development, production, our dealers and vehicle operation, right through to recycling. That is what “Think Blue.” means for us.

10.2 billion euros

The Volkswagen Group invested 10.2 billion euros in research and development in 2013.

That’s a lot to tackle in one go – is it really achievable?

The whole thing is a huge challenge. But if anyone can do it, it’s the Volkswagen Group with our twelve brands, our annual investment of over €10 billion in research and development, and the expertise of over 40,000 engineers. Our modular toolkits are key to making it happen. They enable us to put every drive technology into every model and every brand. What’s more, we manufacture electric cars bumper to bumper with the other models in our plants.

How do the customers – the people who buy your cars – benefit?

The Volkswagen Group’s customers really do have freedom of choice across our brands, because we are able to react quickly, flexibly and economically to every request. Take e-mobility for example: Customers can choose from emission-free city cars, through all-rounders with plug-in hybrid drives, down to sports saloons with a fuel consumption of 3 l/100 km. At Volkswagen, it’s the customer who decides how much “e” they want to have in their mobility.

1 Volkswagen e-up! 60 kW energy consumption in kWh/100 km combined 11.7; CO2 emissions in g/km combined 0.

2 Volkswagen e-Golf 85 kW energy consumption in kWh/100 km combined 12.7; CO2 emissions in g/km combined 0.

3 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 150 kW fuel consumption in l/100 km combined 1.5; CO2 emissions in g/km combined 35.

4 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid 306 kW fuel consumption in l/100 km combined 3.1; energy consumption in kWh/100 km combined 16.2; CO2 emissions in g/km combined 71.

Johannes Winterhagen

Volkswagen AG