The Volkswagen brand has become the face of auto-industry corruption, arrogance, and entrenched interest. The only motivating factor for the higher-ups at the company in recent years seems to have been profits — with no sense of responsibility for the truth, for public health, or for the wider environment apparently being present at all.
With that in mind, the company has been on something of a PR blitz recently, trying to salvage the brand name if possible. The latest news on that front is that the company is now considering investing $11 billion into the development of a dedicated battery factory in Salzgitter — which would presumably support the production of the company’s previously hinted at future electric vehicle (EV) offerings.
The prominent German business newspaper Handelsblatt has reported that the Volkswagen board is slated to vote on the proposal on June 22.
Gas 2 provides more:
The newspaper says VW wants to be independent of the world’s principal battery makers — Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung. It offered no details on what battery chemistry Volkswagen will use to produce its batteries.
Volkswagen’s new head, Matthias Müller, says he and his team are working on a new strategy to dig the company out from under the diesel emissions cheating mess that has left it humiliated and demoralized. The plan calls for producing 1 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars annually by the year 2025. That is 5 years after Elon Musk says Tesla Motors will accomplish the same feat. The Volkswagen strategy relies heavily on the new MEB modular chassis it has developed for the BUDD-e electric car unveiled at CES in January. The new platform will support both all-electric and plug-in hybrid powertrains, allowing Volkswagen to adjust rapidly to changing customer expectations.
All of that said, the company still has quite a lot of legal issues to deal with. Governments in the US and Korea are still actively considering pressing criminal charges, and there are many tens of billions in damages likely to be claimed by various parties around the world as well.
The future of the brand is still, to my eyes, an open question at this point — it’s not as simple as purging the leadership, embracing EVs, and saying that everyone else who stood to benefit from the company’s previous actions is blameless….