Volkswagen to Launch 20 Battery-Driven Vehicles in China Before 2018

Oct 30, 2014 11:00 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

Volkswagen AG plans on launching more than 20 models of battery-driven cars in China before the end of 2018, as it looks to capitalize on Beijing's support for low-emission vehicles in the country's fight against pollution.

By 2020, there should be "some hundred thousand" pure electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China under Volkswagen Group, according to Reuters. Most of the vehicles would be locally made, Jochem Heizmann, head of Volkswagen Group China, confirmed on Tuesday.

"In the near future, Volkswagen will be offering Chinese drivers over 20 new energy vehicles, from small cars to large-sized SUVs, from plug-in hybrids to pure electric cars," Heizmann said in Shanghai, according to Reuters.

China has set a target of putting 5 million green vehicles on roads by 2020. Automakers like BMW, Tesla, Nissan and VW are vying for a share of that.

Beijing announced a number of long-term plans over recent years, but there is little sign of improvement so far.

"I spend a big portion of my time in Beijing, and everyone is suffering there," Heizmann said to reporters.

Beijing is subsidizing purchases of low-emission vehicles and has published rules that require foreign and Chinese automakers to meet stringent fuel consumption targets. Such targets would be difficult to meet without help from electric vehicles, Heizmann said.

VW will launch its pure-electric vehicle, the e-up!, in China this year, and also has plans to launch its e-Golf and plug-in hybrid Golf GTE sometime in 2015.

Electrification will also eventually be applied to other vehicles like the Passat and Audi cars. It could be extended to almost every product segment eventually, Heizmann said, due to a strategy that allows it to produce cars more cost efficiently, according to Reuters.

"With this modular strategy, we don't need a different car factory. The e-Golf can be produced in the same body shop and assembly line as a normal Golf," he said. "This is an advantage."

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