18 Mar 2019, 13:55
Benjamin Wehrmann

Volkswagen threatens to leave Germany’s car lobby VDA in spat over e-cars

Welt am Sonntag / Tagesspiegel

German carmaker Volkswagen has threatened to quit the country’s influential carmaker lobby group VDA as a dispute over the national car industry’s approach to managing the transition in the transport sector towards low-carbon technologies escalates, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag reports. According to the article, Volkswagen wants the lobby group to budge from its rigid insistence on “technological openness” in the transition and to fully focus instead on electric vehicles. VW CEO Herbert Diess reportedly said that the development and support of other propulsion technologies, such as fuel cells or gas engines, would only divert much-needed resources from the most important technology alternative. Volkswagen said the VDA had to be more vocal in fending off a “culture war against the car” currently being fought in the country. To push the market rollout of e-cars, the carmaker has called for lower taxes and the creation of an “electric mobility fund” that would allow owners of electric cars costing less than 20,000 euros to charge them for free -- a proposal rebuked by Volkswagen’s competitors, who on average build more expensive car models.
The advance by the country’s biggest car company has been opposed by many of Volkswagen’s fellow VDA members. Industry supplier Bosch opposed VW’s plans, saying combustion engines will continue to play an important role and that the market itself would sort out which technology prevails, Henrik Mortsiefer writes in the newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. Regulation had to be “technology-neutral” as too many factors were at play when deciding which propulsion system is best for the future. Ultimately, customers will decide, Bosch manager Stefan Hartung told the newspaper. Wolf-Henning Schneider, CEO at car industry supplier ZF Friedrichshafen, told Tagesspiegel “One should not confuse the strategy of a single company with that of a whole industry.”

Volkswagen last week announced it would further accelerate its already ambitious rollout plans for electric mobility. The company that still grapples with the fallout of the dieselgate scandal over manipulated emissions values plans to produce more than 20 million e-cars in the next decade and become fully CO2-neutral by 2050. Environmental NGOS called the announcement a “game changer” for the transition in the transport sector.  However, Volkswagen also said that restructuring meant that it would have to axe several thousand jobs.

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