The electric revolution has come to “the people’s car.” Within four years, 16 Volkswagen Group factories around the world will be dedicated entirely to the production of zero-emission vehicles. This is a development of massive importance, both for the environment, for mass mobility, and for the market in this sector, boosted by an investment of €90 billion. The goal of the largest European car manufacturer (which conducts a full fifth of its operations in Lower Saxony) is to sell three million electric “E-wagen” per year by 2025, winning the trade war against a United States led by a protectionist Trump and against the Japanese-Korean competition.
This billion-dollar business venture, blessed by the fourth Merkel government, by a company which is still under EU sanctions for excessive pollution, is, in the end, the only way for Germany’s flagship industry to expiate its sins exposed by “Dieselgate,” overcome the scandal of emissions tests conducted on human guinea pigs, and move past the landmark court ruling affirming that “diesel kills,” issued on Feb. 28 by the Federal Court in Leipzig. “Over the last few months, we have pulled out all the stops to implement ‘Roadmap E’ [Volkswagen’s electric vehicle plan] with the necessary speed and determination,” said Matthias Müller, CEO of the Wolfsburg-based group, on the sidelines of the conference presenting the company’s proposed budget.
There is a plan on his desk to multiply the capacity of the current electric production facilities tenfold, with the setup of a dedicated battery branch. All this comes as a consequence of an industrial revolution which coincides to a large extent with a geopolitical reaction. From today until 2022, VW has contracts worth €20 billion with suppliers both European and (especially) Chinese, while the company has not yet made a decision on the purchase of American technology and its choice of partners for the US market.