Unlike Tesla, it plans to consistently make money from EVs.
Volkswagen may have been a little late to the game for crossovers in the US, but it's done a commendable job of catching up with offerings like the new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan. But the automaker has no intention of falling behind when it comes to electric vehicles.
We sat down with Volkswagen Group North American CEO Scott Keogh at Geneva to discuss a wide range of topics, among them VW's upcoming EV lineup launch. Keogh believes that 2022 will be the "sweet spot" on the market when there'll be enough EV products out there for them to become mainstream. But there's work to be done beforehand.
"Profitability, let's make no mistake, comes from scale. In my mind this is an opportunity to take the scale of the (VW) Group with the (all-electric MEB) platform and be one of the first to push aggressively into the volume side," Keogh said.
"With electric cars, we can have the scale compared to many of our competitors in the US on the internal combustion engine front. When you start talking about tens of millions of cars on the platform, you can get the pricing into a good place. But if you ask me the more important thing is not on the profitability side but on the revenue side. Can we get enough people to buy the cars?"
There's been a gradual consumer acceptance of EVs over the past few years and that will hopefully translate to solid sales. But an essential element of making a new product or technology successful is market introduction timing.
"When I look at market research in the US (for EVS), it started with 'I don't know what an electric car is', then it migrated to 'I know EVs but I'm never going to buy one', then it went to that interesting place of 'they're kind of cool but they're for someone else.' Now, it's moved into 'I'm going to take a look at one for my next car.' Make no mistake, timing is certainly a part of that."
It wasn't that long ago when EVs were considered a rich person's car because of the steep price tags. But the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Bolt proved that EVs can be affordable and non-EV owners have taken notice. "Electric conversation is everywhere right now. People are seeing more and more electric cars. They're interacting with more people who drive electric cars. And what drives the automotive business is seeing cars on the road, leading to word of mouth, which leads to 'okay, I'm going to give this thing a shot.'"
Keogh intends to have everything ready and in place for the VW Group to become a market EV leader in just a few years' time. "We're going to launch competitively priced cars that will give everyone what they are looking for in a vehicle. And by the way, it's electric."
VW's first MEB platform EV, the I.D. hatchback, is slated to debut this year followed by the production version of the I.D. Crozz concept and the I.D. Buzz. VW also told us in Geneva that the electric Buggy will enter production in 2021.