Ages ago, VeeDub had a “3 Liter Lupo,” a diesel-powered car that got 78.4 mpg. Introduced in 99, it was a rip-roaring failure: It was too expensive. To reduce weight, pricey aluminum and magnesium alloys had to be used. People loved the car and didn’t buy it. VeeDub managers soon realized: When faced with a questionnaire, customers obediently claim they want to save fuel and protect the environment. Back on the Autobahn, they don’t want to be left behind, the ozone hole be damned. If the environmentally friendly car is too expensive, it will rot in the showrooms. This conundrum besets many, if not most, cars powered by alternative energies. "Zero emission!" "1oo MPG!" Sounds good until you see the pricetag. "Gulp." And it's back to internal combustion.
The prevailing notion in
That negative tendency towards alternate propulsion may change, at least in
(where, incidentally, VW makes more cars than at home.) On the sidelines of the 6th Annual China Automotive Industry Forum held in China Shanghai on Nov. 6-7, ’s National Business Daily picked up a sudden interest in battery makers on VW’s part. We are not talking starter batteries here. The paper cornered Xu Jian, VW China’s VP, and Mr. Xu let it drop that Volkswagen is interested in pure plug-ins. Xu opined that purely electric cars will develop faster than the darned fuel cells. With Chinese battery makers, backed by Buffet, going into the car business, Volkswagen is now concerned that they might not find enough batteries in China . So they are reaching out to manufacturers and dangle joint ventures and other possibilities in front of them to charge-up the supply of batteries. China
In the long run, VeeDub stands by its skepticism regarding exotic propulsion: Xu – reflecting popular
wisdom – thinks that by 2020, the good ole internal combustion engine will still putter away, holding an 80 percent market share. The rest will be divvied up amongst plug-ins, fuel cells and whatever other exotica an inventive world will come up with. Volkswagen was usually right with their long term predictions. In the 70’s, fresh on the job, I was introduced to a VW engineer. He said, he was working “on the car for the year 2000.” As an avid consumer of the Jetsons, I eagerly asked: “Oh yeah? What’s it look like?” Wolfsburg
“For one thing, it will have four wheels. And the Sheiks will love it.”
Did he lie?
(Picture courtesy Mrdadvisdc @ flickr.com )