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VW CEO Thomas Schäfer Says PHEVs Transitional Technology

VW CEO Says PHEVs Are Necessary Transitional Technology

It looks like increasingly more carmakers are having to delay their complete electrification plans to incorporate a transitional step in the journey of future mobility.

VW CEO, Thomas Schäfer, spoke at the Financial Times Future of the Car conference about PHEVs being the necessary transitional technology to reach the ultimate goal of electric mobility. With this, VW joins the expanding group of legacy car marques who are backtracking on their decision to skip hybrid cars to reach fully electric vehicles. At this conference, Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida and Hyundai President José Muñoz echoed the same strategy.

VW Golf Front Three Quarters
VW Golf Front Three Quarters

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PHEVs Are Transitional Technology

Volkswagen currently sells hybrid iterations of its popular Golf, Passat and Tiguan cars. Schäfer feels that PHEVs could continue to play a critical role in this transition phase from ICE cars to electric cars for a bit longer than previously anticipated. He also resonates with the latest reports of EV demand “plateauing”. He mentions that when VW was offering the aforementioned models in hybrid avatars, it was frowned upon.

But he says, “Now I’m very glad we did. We have an offer and we will probably have to even extend it. It’s a bridge technology. While battery-electric drive is plateauing out a bit at the moment, we still need this transitional technology.” I must mention here that the VW CEO is not backing out of the EV plans as he is “absolutely sure the future is electric”. Furthermore, he confirms that VW will carry on with what it has and will not build a completely new powertrain.

Finally, he also elucidates that VW won’t necessarily have a hybrid variant of every model it sells in every part of the world. Instead, the German auto giant will focus on reducing the costs of hybrids while boosting the pure electric range to offer something meaningful to the customers. These two are the top concerns among potential buyers at the moment. Remember, VW hybrid cars are already ahead of most carmakers with a pure electric driving range in the vicinity of 62 miles (100 km). Boosting this range further could be exactly what the buyers are looking for.

VW Passat Front Three Quarters
VW Passat Front Three Quarters

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Learn Electric Cars Says

The debate of whether or not hybrids still have a significant future has been brewing for a while now. While many wrote off hybrids as the technology of the past, the recent slowdown in EV sales across major global markets has reignited interest in hybrid cars today. While I am almost fully convinced that the future of mobility is electric, I don’t think that it will arrive as soon as people are anticipating.

There are still numerous challenges prevailing around mass EV adoption including range anxiety, charging times, charging infrastructure, material sourcing for batteries, battery recycling, etc. Not to mention, even the governments are slowly reducing incentives to buy electric cars. Hence, it won’t be an easy, brisk or smooth transition. I am of the opinion that hybrid cars are here to stay for the foreseeable future to reduce friction while transitioning from ICE cars to EVs.