Volkswagen Group Announces Major Electric Car Initiative by 2025

IMG_3157.jpg photo by Kelsey Mays

CARS.COM — Calling it the “biggest change process” in company history, the Volkswagen Group announced plans today to launch dozens of electric vehicles by 2025. It’s unclear how many of them will be sold in the U.S. but today’s announcement signals a new focus after nearly a year of diesel emissions problems.

Related: VW Diesel Crisis: Timeline of Events

The move comes as still-cheap gas has dried up consumer interest in hybrids and plug-in cars. Sales for the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius family and Volkswagen e-Golf fell a combined 33.3 percent in May. Still, the Volkswagen Group — whose brands include Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche — thinks that will change in a big way: From Detroit to Dubai, fully electric cars will account for a quarter of all global passenger-car sales by 2025, VW expects. It plans to keep up with 2 million to 3 million of its own electric-car sales per year, or 20 to 25 percent of all Volkswagen Group passenger-car sales. And to do that, the automaker says it will introduce “more than 30” new all-electric models worldwide over the next decade.

The Volkswagen Group also wants to expand its mobility business, starting with ride-hailing services and eventually moving toward self-driving taxicabs, car-sharing and transport-on-demand services. That’s unsurprising, given the recent wave of partnerships and acquisitions between automakers and ride-hailing or autonomous-technology companies.

Autonomous vehicles will also be a future focus. The automaker said it “intends to independently provide the resources necessary to address the future topic of autonomous driving and artificial intelligence,” it said today. “The aim is to license a competitive self-driving system (SDS) developed in-house by the end of the decade.”

It already appears well on its way. In our survey of autonomous-vehicle technologies, Volkswagen Group officials promised that the next-generation Audi A8 would have self-driving capabilities that, by Society of Automotive Engineers classification standards, would qualify for a level of autonomy that no other production car has achieved yet.

The automaker said it will have more specifics by brand by the end of this year.

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