Smart cars, not e-cars, are ‘gamechanger’ says VW boss

Munich motor show: Volkswagen head Herbert Diess says 15% of the car giant’s business will be mobility services

Similar in size to Volkswagen’s Polo, the ID Life will be built by the company’s Spanish Seat division and is based on the company’s dedicated EV platform. Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

Similar in size to Volkswagen’s Polo, the ID Life will be built by the company’s Spanish Seat division and is based on the company’s dedicated EV platform. Photo: Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images

 

Volkswagen head Herbert Diess on Sunday said autonomous cars, not electric vehicles, were the “real gamechanger” for the auto industry, which is facing the end of combustion engines in Europe by 2035.

Diess’ comments signal the pace at which the 62-year old tries to transform Europe’s largest carmaker by basically saying that the shift towards battery-powered electric vehicles (EV), which still needs to be backed up by actual sales, was sealed.

VW boss Herbert Diess on Sunday said autonomous cars, not electric vehicles, were the “real gamechanger” for the auto industry. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
VW boss Herbert Diess on Sunday said autonomous cars, not electric vehicles, were the “real gamechanger” for the auto industry. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

“Autonomous driving is really going to change our industry like nothing else before,” Diess said in Munich ahead of the official opening of the IAA car show, adding the shift towards electrified cars was “kind of easy” in comparison.

“The real gamechanger is software and autonomous driving.”

Diess spoke as environmental pressure on the auto sector is ramping up, with the European Commission in July proposing an effective ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

On Friday, Greenpeace and German environmental NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) said they would take legal action against German carmakers, including Volkswagen, if they failed to step up their policies to tackle climate change.

Diess, who was confronted by Greenpeace activists before entering the venue on Sunday, is therefore not only aiming to overtake Tesla and turn Volkswagen into the world’s largest seller of electric vehicles by 2025.

New life

Volkswagen on Monday took the wraps off the ID Life, a fully electric small car to be launched in 2025 at a cost of around €20,000 in Germany in a bid to make battery-powered cars affordable for the masses and younger generations.

“The ID Life is our vision of next-generation fully electric urban mobility,” Volkswagen brand CEO Ralf Brandstaetter said at the IAA Munich car show.

The ID Live, which is at a concept car stage, is a key pillar of Volkswagen’s goal to become the world’s top seller of electric vehicles by 2025 and dethrone Tesla in part by commanding lower prices.

Similar in size to Volkswagen’s Polo, the ID Life will be built by the company’s Spanish Seat division and is based on the company’s dedicated EV platform, a VW spokesman said.

The VW ID Life in concept form also comes with a video game console and a projector and screen to show movies. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg
The VW ID Life in concept form also comes with a video game console and a projector and screen to show movies. Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

It also comes with a video game console and a projector and screen to show movies. “The customer of tomorrow won’t simply want to get from A to B; they will be much more interested in the experiences that a car can offer,” Brandstaetter said. - Reuters