Always keep an open mind.
There was a time when automakers weren't that keen on building electric vehicles. Back in 1996, the GM EV1 debuted and it was not exactly a good everyday vehicle, especially for those with long commutes. Its driving range was limited to 100 miles and its lease rates were as much as $549 a month. But the GM EV1 was still a good attempt for the time. Battery technology was simply not where it is now. GM's experiment was also observed by its competitors and they ultimately determined EVs weren't for them. Volkswagen was one of them. It decided instead to heavily focus its R&D efforts on its clean diesel technology. We all know how that turned out.
Today, VW's attitude towards EVs is very different and even its most serious gearhead top executives are on board. Speaking to Autocar, the head of the Volkswagen R division, Jost Capito, outright admitted his changed stance towards battery electrics.
"I always thought I'd be retired when electric cars became a thing because I'm a petrolhead," said Capito. "But they're fun to drive. At first, electric cars were something we had to do [for emissions] but now they're something we want to do." The fact that VW was "forced" to develop and build EVs came as a combined consequence of Dieselgate and stricter government fuel-emissions standards.
A wave of new EVs, beginning with the Volkswagen ID.3, is on its way and while America won't receive that specific vehicle, it will be getting the VW ID.4 crossover. A reborn VW microbus is also in the pipeline.
Capito and his team may be more accustomed to developing vehicles like the next VW Golf R, but they've also been assigned a new task: hot ID electric road cars. The instant torque provided by EVs creates all kinds of performance possibilities, as VW has already learned from its ID.R all-electric race car. We don't know when exactly these hot ID-branded EVs will hit the market but it's important to know they are coming.
VW is racing to become the world's biggest provider of EVs within the next few years and fun-to-drive performance vehicles are vital to making this happen. It's amazing how fast this EV revolution is taking place.