Posted on November 16, 2018 by Matt Pressman
Big Auto's executives have a long history of taking shots at Tesla. Now, two industry giants, VW and GM, have decided to dismiss the Silicon Valley automaker altogether and claim they'll (instead) lead the EV revolution. Yet, their braggadocio, somehow, doesn't seem to add up.
Above: Two of the industry's biggest heavyweights, VW and GM, have dialed up their bold claims surrounding electric car efforts (Image: Kinibiz)
Larry Vellequette reports (via Automotive News Europe) that Volkswagen's rhetoric about electric vehicles is "the direct result of a strategy shift that came after getting caught cheating on diesel-emissions testing." Deflecting attention from the dieselgate scandal and recent cartel allegations, VW's corporate communications vacillate wildly from reluctant-to-boastful when it comes to the company's EV plans.
In a puzzling interview with VW's Herbert Diess, the company's CEO downplays the viability of the electric car explaining, "if you are still driving far distances, 20,000 or 30,000 miles [per year], it's probably not the right car." And with EVs, Deiss adds, "you're driving on coal instead of oil, and it doesn't make sense." That said, he concedes, "Renewable energy is a must... [so] we will be very big in electric cars worldwide because we are very strong in China."
Above: A look back at VW's dieselgate scandal which likely sparked the company's recent PR offensive touting their "support" for EVs (Youtube: The Verge)
Deiss admits, "[Electric car] sales are picking up. It's not all over the place, but West Coast, if you go to a parking lot, you see already a decent mix of electric cars there. Most of them are probably Teslas, but what's happening now is that the cars become so much better." He continues, "I think we have the best setup strategy for the electric vehicles to come... We will be aggressive on the pricing. We will be much lower than Tesla."
Meanwhile GM's former bigwig, Bob Lutz, is consistently appearing on financial news shows in order to trash-talk Tesla. Recently he claimed, "Tesla is headed to the graveyard." Do GM's top brass feel the same way? Jamie Lareau (via Detroit Free Press) spoke with Mike Abelson, GM's vice president of global strategy, for his take on EVs. He reports, "GM's gasoline-powered cars and trucks will be the main revenue stream for the company for at least the next two decades," according to Abelson.
Above: GM has no plans for electric pickup trucks (Image: Auto Express)
Yet, contradicting himself, Abelson adds, "We do believe we'll lead the industry in EVs sometime in the next decade or so." If that's the case, will GM, perhaps, battle Tesla in market segments like pickup trucks. No. Abelson says, "There will not be any AV/EV pickups." Nevertheless, it's reported that, "GM is exploring all fronts in future mobility, including talking to companies working on flying cars."
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