Volkswagen Eyes EVs Making Up 3 Percent of Sales In 2018

We hear a hybrid Jetta has been confirmed for next year, but big news has also arrived on the electric-vehicle front. Looking to get a good jump in the world of alternative power, Volkswagen is seeking an EV future where the zero-emissions vehicle make up three percent of global sales, hopefully by 2018.

We've heard the crew out of Wolfsburg's first mass-market EV would be based on the 2013 Golf, but the German automaker has plans for a full, global all-electric lineup consisting of the E-Up (based on the Up! minicar), the E-Golf, and the E-Jetta. The three battery-electric vehicles are reputedly due in 2013, and VW boss Martin Winterkorn already has his worldwide sales target.

"We aim to boost the share of e-vehicles in our annual sales to three percent by 2018," said Winterkorn. "In urban centers, this share could be a lot higher."

In 2009, Volkswagen, including all sub-brands, sold 6.29 million vehicles around the world. With the namesake Volkswagen brand leading the charge, the Volkswagen Group is aiming to sell over 10 million vehicles globally by 2018, and three percent would be no insignificant sum. To help research and develop higher-capacity and sustainable battery technology, VW has tapped former Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard for his expertise.

"Batteries must not only get smaller and lighter, above all they must get cheaper," said Eberhard to reporters at a recent VW event. "Ultimately we do see a large percent of our cars as electric drive."

After being ousted as CEO in November 2007, the Tesla co-founder has since been aligned with VW. Now running a manufacturer battery lab, Eberhard is working on the next generation of vehicular lithium-ion batteries, an endeavor that is receiving major funding from the auto industry as a whole. R&D underway, Eberhard expects to cut into the average cost of the battery, which is currently priced from 500 to 1000 euro ($645 to $1290) per kilowatt-hour.

For comparison, the Tesla Roadster's lithium-ion battery pack has a capacity of around 53 kilowatt-hours, operates at a nominal voltage of 375V, and can serve up to 200 kilowatts of electric power. At today's rates, $34,000-$68,000 nets an estimated range of 244 miles on the Roadster, so it comes with little surprise the batteries are an important facet in the EV game.

Volkswagen and Audi both have plans to roll out electric vehicles in the future and, of course, expect hybrids to take on a bigger role as well. And while batteries and generators may not fully sync up with Porsche's heritage, let's not rule out the inclusion of the storied brand to the electric game, especially with the Cayenne S Hybrid and the halo-wearing 918 Spyder lending its credentials to the alternative-fuel market.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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