Mr. Blume, can an automobile that derives its drive power not from gasoline but from battery cells still be a true
(Laughs.) You obviously haven't driven the
So you’ve experienced the
Many times. Test-drives are essential in the development process in order to make a product perfect.
And your impression?
Phenomenal! Witout a doubt a real
What can the
There’s simply nothing comparable in the field of electric sports cars.
Could you be more specific?
Driving performance on the level of a super sports car. Reproducible acceleration without loss of power. Long-distance capability. State-of-the-art connectivity. Outstanding design—inside and out. And the soul of an athlete, as only
And what are the technical innovations that make the difference?
There are many. For example, the
What makes you so certain?
Decades of tradition and experience. The perfect synthesis of motorsports and day-to-day usability. And not least: our role as a driver of innovation in hybrid and electric motors. In 2013
And all that is in the
It’s the consequence of all that.
Your head of design, Michael Mauer, says that the
That’s a fair statement. For him and his team, the objective was to make the
Other premium manufacturers are embarking on the e-mobility era with an SUV,
For three reasons. First, the
Traditional vehicles are increasingly under pressure, due to both new competitors and policy. Is electromobility more of a risk or an opportunity?
Definitely a mission and an opportunity.
Taking a look at the drive variants of the future that are locally CO₂-free, there are only three technologies that come into consideration: e-mobility, hydrogen, and synthetic fuels.
For good reason. From the well-to-wheel perspective—mobility’s entire chain of effects—a new electric vehicle is roughly three times more efficient than a hydrogen vehicle and six times more efficient than a vehicle powered with synthetic fuels. Even if one includes battery production, the ratio is still one to two over hydrogen and one to three compared with synthetic fuels. And with the advancement of battery development, this advantage will grow even larger. For a sports-car manufacturer like
True climate neutrality will only be achieved, however, when the electricity comes from 100 percent renewable sources.
Big-engined sports cars, heavy SUVs—
Let me be clear: we carmakers have a very clear responsibility to lower transport emissions. Those who wish to create long-term value not only must understand the relationship between economic gains and value creation for both people and the environment, but indeed meet the demands of an increasingly environmentally and socially minded society.
Do you know the word “rekkeviddeangst”?
It comes from Norwegian and means “range anxiety”—the unpleasant feeling that one might run out of power and be stranded. With Ionity, a joint venture of BMW, Daimler, Ford, and the Volkswagen Group with
Only when we have ultra-fast, high-performance charging networks will e-mobility become attractive for long-distance travel. We’re making an important contribution to e-mobility’s appeal to the majority of the public. When it comes to offering a comprehensive charging infrastructure, however, we still need more engagement. If the political realm is really serious about environmental protection, it needs to take bold steps right now to clear the way and create a reliable framework for the long term. And not only in Germany, but worldwide. We urgently need a global action plan to provide orientation for everyone.
A magazine wrote: “Perhaps surprisingly, it is
Surely you don’t expect me to object.
Validated. We have a clear, resolute strategy and are forging ahead with verve. The
What does that mean, exactly?
By 2022 we will have invested some € 6 billion in e-mobility. That’s a considerable sum for a company of our size. Thanks to the
“Only when we have ultra-fast, high-performance charging networks will e-mobility become attractive for long-distance travel.”
…so that we can concentrate on our core competencies.
In terms of drive technology, we’re focusing on a triad of optimized gasoline engines, emotional plug-in hybrids, and purely electric sports cars. That’s the right strategic answer to the regime change in our industry over the next ten years or so. That puts us in a very good position and enables us to adjust flexibly to the different speeds at which various market regions worldwide are developing e-mobility.
What role does the hybrid drive play in this triad?
A very important one—particularly with regard to the transition to e-mobility. We were the first manufacturer to offer modern plug-in hybrid drives in three premium segments simultaneously. With the
And after that?
Electric vehicles will dominate. Combustion engines will still exist—in some regions there will be a lot for a very long time. But in the long run, electric drive systems will gradually displace combustion engines.
The automotive industry is currently changing faster than ever before. In the next five years, there will be more changes than in the previous fifty.
That’s why we’re in the process of fundamentally changing our business model: from that of a traditional automobile manufacturer to a modern, highly innovative mobility provider.
The proportion of software in a vehicle is rising dramatically. For many, the vehicle of the future is essentially a smartphone on wheels. Is that overblown?
At a minimum, software represents an increasingly large part of the value chain. It plays a significant role in determining the performance and characteristics of a vehicle. We have to make that one of our core competencies.
Where do you get your software? One often hears that Europe lacks an IT industry of sufficient scope to support this transformation process.
Within the totality of the Volkswagen Group there are currently about five thousand experts working in some capacity on the development of IT for vehicles. Not only our type of work but also the composition of our workforce and the workflows in our operations are changing massively in the course of digitalization. The particular challenge for
And when you hit a roadblock internally?
Then we’ll go where the talent is. We believe in the opportunities presented by collaboration with digital developers, start-ups, and innovation centers around the world. So we’re concentrating our forces and enabling joint work models by creating open platforms and interfaces. We benefit from this innovative drive while at the same time contributing our part to the establishment of a digital ecosystem.
“There’s simply nothing comparable in the field of electric sports cars.”
More than twenty thousand people all around the world have already signed up to buy a
It’s astonishing, isn’t it? That’s why I’m all the more convinced: the more attractive our products are, the faster e-mobility will gain acceptance.
That’s right. Everyone will be able to get what they want from our brand.
What does that mean for the individual model ranges?
There are four dimensions: the first is our successful “base.” Here we’re looking at which variants are appropriate for which segments. The
Demand for the
We won’t be building any stock vehicles in the future either. Everyone will get exactly the