Volkswagen has released the latest version of its ViaVision marketing magazine, which this month focuses on electromobility and the forthcoming e-up! city car.
There’s a fair bit of detail about the car, but if you read all of it you will quickly realise that there isn’t anything really ground breaking – it’s fairly conventional as EVs go.
And compared to BMWs i3, there isn’t a great deal to say – They’ve even resorted to explaining in detail how an electric motors work, and (ironically) the benefits of having standardisation of the charging interface, in order to stretch the article to 11 pages.
But conventional a good thing, because conventional, mass-market and well-made are why VW are so successful, and for a mass market car – EV or otherwise – conventional will sell, conventional is affordable.
There is a lot of innovation and radical thinking needed for the migration to Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles (ULEVs), because innovation and lateral thinking will solve the many issues surrounding energy storage, costs, range, weight, life-time environmental impact and efficiency. But EVs need to be affordable for people to buy them, for the critical mass to build, and for economies of scale to further drive costs down and fund further innovation.
VW seem to have stuck the balance, just as Nissan and GM have been able to do.
Make no mistake: VW have been innovative with this car, it is a brand new vehicle, but it uses their New Small Family (NSF) platform so it shares major components and body parts with other models, the drive train has been designed to work with many of their existing range of ICE derived vehicles and platforms, and as such they can make it competitive – only the battery costs are making this car more expensive than the ICE NSF cars, and VW have focussed much of their investment in battery manufacturing to try and control that cost in the future.
They have addressed range and efficiency issues by using light-weight materials and manufacturing technology which is proven and cost effective and they have shared development costs by using a platform which will be used across the group for a variety of models. They have also focused on making it good to drive – leveraging some of the benefits that electric drive has over ICEs in terms of smoothness, quiet, and instant, punchy acceleration.
Ultimately they have designed a platform and drive train that will enable them to compete with the Nissan LEAF and the GM Volt for the mass market, and this is a huge boost for the industry, arguably much more so than the headline grabbing, highly innovative, but expensive BMW i3.
Read about the e-up! in VW’s ViaVision marketing magazine here: ELECTROMOBILITY – The e-up! Made by Volkswagen
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