The contract of Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess was extended in July, he is allowed to push ahead with the conversion of the group to e-mobility until the end of 2025. The 62-year-old recently presented his strategy for the next few years, with the focus on expanding the technologies and capacities for electric cars. Thanks to group-wide scaling, battery vehicles will soon no longer be more expensive than combustion engines.
“In a few years’ time, electric cars will no longer need any government purchase premiums, because then they are usually no more expensive to manufacture than a combustion engine,” Diess told WirtschaftsWoche. Compared to other cars, electric cars would be even more attractive if all drive types were treated equally in terms of funding. “The diesel is subsidized with eight billion euros in tax benefits per year, which is a multiple of the state e-car purchase premiums,” explained Diess. Kerosene for planes is even tax-free. That distorts the market, is harmful to climate protection, and should “end as soon as possible”.
In addition to converting the model range to electric drives, Europe’s largest automobile manufacturer now also wants to enter the business with new, climate-friendly ship drives. “50 percent of the marine engines worldwide come from our group,” said Diess. “We could convert the engines to natural gas and then to ammonia drive in the next 15 years. That would fit well into the business model of MAN Energy Solutions, with great leverage for climate protection. ”However, the International Shipping Organization IMO would have to make appropriate specifications so that a market for the new technology could develop.
MAN is one of the brands of the Volkswagen commercial vehicle manufacturer Traton. MAN Energy Solutions has been leading a consortium to develop an ammonia-powered engine for shipping since 2020. The technology is seen as an alternative to hydrogen propulsion. Ammonia is an e-fuel and, like hydrogen, can be produced using renewable energies in a climate-friendly way, but it is easier and cheaper to use.
In the automotive sector, in addition to the electric drive, Diess is driving the digitization of Volkswagen vehicles. “With our New Auto strategy, we will reinvent Volkswagen by 2030,” he said a few days ago at the Group’s annual general meeting. Within the next ten years, the car will be sustainable, safe, intelligent, and ultimately autonomous. Individual mobility is “facing a bright future”. With its strong brands and global technology platforms, Volkswagen also wants to play a leading role in the new world of mobility.