Volkswagen has accelerated its push into electric cars, as company forecasts suggest the world’s largest carmaker will produce its millionth battery electric vehicle two years earlier than previously planned.
The core Volkswagen brand will have turned out 1m battery-only cars by the end of 2023 and will reach 1.5m by the end of 2025, the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer said on Friday.
This year it produced more than 70,000 electric cars, and last year 50,000. Volkswagen, which produced 10.8m cars in 2018, said it had produced 250,000 electrified vehicles (including fossil fuel-driven hybrids) since 2013.
Volkswagen and other carmakers are scrambling to increase the number of electric cars they make and sell in the EU. Limits coming into force from 1 January will heavily penalise carmakers with fines for excessive greenhouse gas output. The regulations aim to reduce average carbon dioxide tailpipe emissions from new cars sold in the EU to below 95g per km.
The fallout from the Dieselgate scandal, in which VW engineers cheated emissions tests, has prompted the company to increase its focus on electric cars.
The Volkswagen group will release eight electric or hybrid models in the next year across its brands, which include Audi, Seat and Skoda. It is pinning its hopes of mass-market sales on the Volkswagen ID.3, with its plant in Zwickau, east Germany, aiming to produce 330,000 vehicles a year by 2021.
The ID.3 base model will cost less than €30,000 (£26,000) and be capable of travelling for between 205 and 340 miles on a single charge, depending on the model.
Thomas Ulbrich, the Volkswagen brand board member responsible for electric cars, said: “2020 will be a key year for the transformation of Volkswagen. With the market launch of the ID.3 and other attractive models in the ID family, our electric offensive will also become visible on the roads.”
While Volkswagen’s main market is the EU, it is also expected to face growing pressure in other markets as emissions standards gradually catch up.
The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, told the Financial Times on Friday that the city was considering forcing ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to use electric vehicles, in an effort to meet a target of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.