Fanciful concept cars prove german automakers aren’t serious about EVs

  • Published on October 1st, 2017

At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt, we saw Mercedes, Volkswagen, and BMW all show some concepts EVs. But most of them are really far-future concepts, the kind you find at auto shows but that never end up seeing the light of day. Here are some highlights.






iVision Dynamics Concept:



None of the above look like anything that will see the light of day soon.

What about VW’s $84 Billion Investment in EVs?

Volkswagen recently announced that it will invest €70 billion ($84 billion) into electric cars and batteries. That sounds good. Maybe Tesla will finally have some real competition?

Not so fast. Here are the details of the announcement:

  • This is from now until 2030.
  • €50 billion ($60 billion) will just be to “buy” batteries according to BBC and Bloomberg.
  • Cumulative sales of 3 million electric cars by 2025 (per the Bloomberg article above).
  • Annual sales of 1 million by 2025.

Let’s see what the investment gets us. It gets us an average of ~$6.5 billion/year. If batteries cost $100/kWh on average, $60 billion buys 600,000,000 kWh. That’s an average of 46 million kWh/year. Let’s round that up to 50 million because batteries will get cheaper with time. If we assume that the average EV needs a 60 kWh battery to be a viable competitor to Tesla, then we have roughly 830,000 EVs on average per year and a total of ~10 million cars. However, considering VW’s 1 million in 2025 goal, most of this investment is probably back loaded in the next decade. Just for comparison — VW sells 10 million cars every year. If it was serious about electrification, it would talk about 5 million annual EV sales by 2025, not 1 million.

So, while the $84 billion investment in EVs sounds good, it is basically a non-event as far as competing with Tesla goes. What does this mean for the upcoming Audi e-tron quattro? VW has been very quiet about this, considering that production is supposed to start early next year. I learned today that there have been some sightings of the car in camo. If real, this could be the first premium Tesla competitor. Unfortunately, based on the investment, this is likely a low-volume car. As will be the the Porsche Mission E if it arrives. That was supposed to be the first real Tesla Model S competitor.

In fact, nothing significant coming before 2020 has been shown or announced by any luxury manufacturer. And we all know that 2020 really is just a sweet spot for being just enough time away that concepts can be watered down, delayed, or scrapped.

The Real Problem

Let’s for a second take all these automakers at their word. Assume they will really produce all these EVs and sell them side by side with their ICE vehicles. There’s just one problem: Manufacturers price their ICE vehicles low, and price their EVs high.

This means their EVs will not be competitive with their ICE cars, which means that they will not be competitive with Tesla, which prices its cars in line with gas cars in the same segment.

The obvious conclusion is that there is no viable long-range electric car competition for Tesla in the near future in spite of the announcements. Of course, I could be wrong and there really will be an e-tron quattro next year closely followed by everyone else’s mythical electric cars. Hopefully they are also thinking about building out charging infrastructure.

This article was originally published on Since the original publication, the VW group raised my hopes once by announcing pricing for the Porsche Mission E and then dashed them again by continuing to invest in diesel cars and make statements like this:

Mueller added that he understood customer concerns regarding diesel engines and the possibility that diesel engines could be banned in the future. He said it is the responsibility of the car industry, as well as the electricity industry and the authorities, to make sure bans are not implemented.

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, EV Obsession.)

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