18 Dec 2020, 14:17
Charlotte Nijhuis

Volkswagen undermines the sale of own e-cars – report

WirtschaftsWoche / Clean Energy Wire

Despite Volkswagen’s (VW) positioning as a pioneer in the mobility transition, the car manufacturer does not do enough to sell its own e-cars, NGO Greenpeace says in a report. Volkswagen plans to invest around 35 billion euros in electric cars by 2024 and to become climate-neutral by 2050. CEO Herbert Diess, has called for a higher CO2 price, stricter emissions rules and an end to the diesel privilege, business weekly WirtschaftsWoche writes. However, VW could do much more to promote sales and in some cases it even undermines the sale of its own e-cars, Greenpeace says.

Volkswagen’s first all-electric car, the ID.3, got off to a slow start this fall, WirtschaftsWoche writes. VW reported 37,000 orders for the ID.3 at the end of October. Tesla, by comparison, had more than 400,000 pre-orders for its Model 3 within a few weeks after the car was revealed in spring 2016. The slow launch was caused in part by software problems. But despite risking hefty fines for failing to meet EU targets for reducing CO2 emissions of the company's vehicle fleet, VW does not want to sell more e-cars than absolutely necessary, Greenpeace said. While 2020 was the first year in which the fleet target applied, car lobbyists in Brussels have negotiated a soft transition rule, which allows them to eliminate the most fuel-thirsty five percent of their cars from the equation, Greenpeace writes. From 2021, this will no longer be possible. Every e-car that is sold next year instead of in 2020 will make a “particularly valuable contribution to mastering the difficult 2021 targets,” Benjamin Gehrs , mobility expert at Greenpeace, said.

Moreoever, selling combustion engine cars is still more profitable for the company than fully electric ones, because of the high production and raw material costs of e-cars. VW confirmed to the WirtschaftsWoche that its electric cars currently still generate less profit than combustion engines. “The profitability of e-cars will be lower than that of combustion engines in the initial phase,” Volkswagen told the newspaper. Volkswagen dealers thus seem to undermine the sale of e-cars, according to an undercover shopping investigation by Greenpeace, where 56 mystery shoppers visited 50 Volkswagen dealers throughout Germany. In most cases, salespeople did not only explicitly advise against buying the ID.3, they also expressed “fundamental doubts about electric mobility,” according to Gehrs.

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