EVs: The Race for the Holy Grail is On

New York Times

Volk­swa­gen AG plans to bring its first elec­tric car to the U.S. in two years, join­ing an increas­ing­ly crowd­ed field of bat­tery-pow­ered vehi­cles on the mar­ket.

Find out more about what the “race for the holy grail” involves for automak­ers.

Volk­swa­gen, the largest of the Euro­pean automak­ers, will bring its first elec­tric car to the Unit­ed States in two years, join­ing an increas­ing­ly crowd­ed field of bat­tery-pow­ered vehi­cles on the mar­ket.

An e-Golf at the Frank­furt Motor Show. Volk­swa­gen said it would devel­op more elec­tric vehi­cles.

A Volk­swa­gen offi­cial said on Tues­day that the e-Golf — an elec­tri­fied ver­sion of the company’s sub­com­pact car — would go on sale in 2015 as part of a broad­er plan to intro­duce more alter­na­tive-fuel mod­els.

It is an impor­tant step for a com­pa­ny that is try­ing to expand rapid­ly in the Unit­ed States, but has not kept pace with the mar­ket recent­ly.

Marc Tra­han, an exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent for Volkswagen’s Amer­i­can unit, said VW could fol­low the e-Golf with more elec­tri­fied mod­els if demand increased.

“We want to be the leader in the glob­al con­text, but oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers have got­ten a lit­tle ahead of the curve,” Mr. Tra­han said after a speech to the Auto­mo­tive Press Asso­ci­a­tion here.

The company’s entry into the elec­tric mar­ket is anoth­er sign that automak­ers are push­ing ahead with expen­sive new bat­tery-pow­ered mod­els despite a tepid response from con­sumers.

Gen­er­al Motors, which has been mod­er­ate­ly suc­cess­ful with its Volt plug-in hybrid sedan, which runs pri­mar­i­ly on bat­tery pow­er but is backed up by a gaso­line engine, is work­ing on a pure­ly elec­tric mod­el with an extend­ed bat­tery range.

Ter­ry Rhadi­gan, a spokesman for G.M., said the com­pa­ny was exper­i­ment­ing with bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy in the hope of one day offer­ing an elec­tric car with a 200-mile range on a sin­gle charge.

“That’s the race for the holy grail,” Mr. Rhadi­gan said. “The 200-mile bat­tery will be an impor­tant mile­stone, and we are work­ing on it.”

G.M., the biggest Amer­i­can automak­er, has set no timetable for the vehi­cle. The com­pa­ny will be bol­ster­ing its alter­na­tive-fuel line­up next year when it adds a Cadil­lac ver­sion of the Volt.

BMW, the Ger­man lux­u­ry car com­pa­ny, will begin sell­ing an elec­tric car in Ger­many lat­er this year. The com­pa­ny is also plan­ning a high-end, hybrid gas-elec­tric sports car for the Unit­ed States by 2014.

 

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