Prof. Dr. Burkard Göschel, President of the Electric and New Energy Championships Commission, FIA
Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for E-Mobility, Volkswagen AG
Franz Rother, Chief Editor, Edison

EV registration numbers are increasing, yet drivers and fleet managers alike are still hesitant about the new technology. Are we ready for the Energiewende on the roads? When will electromobility break through? VW board member Thomas Ulbrich is convinced his company has just the right vehicles to make electric driving suitable for everyday use, and hence a mass phenomenon.

„Model electrification is the backbone of our Volkswagen brand strategy.“ He said the company had already revolutionized the automotive world twice (with the Beetle and Golf), and would do so a third time with the new drive technology. The Group’s mission: „Make sure the Golf of the electric age is a Volkswagen.“

Ulrich believes electrifying familiar combustion models is not a promising path. In future, he said, Volkswagen would build all its electric models on a dedicated e-platform called the Modular Electrical Construction Kit (MEB). This would exploit all the advantages of the electric drive to the full – for example in bodywork and interior design.

The e-Mobility board member is convinced these MEB models will bring EVs out of their niche by meeting key customer requirements: „To break through, EVs must be attractive, affordable and clean.“ He said EVs also needed to be fully networked and offer customers all their familiar services from other areas of life. By adding efficient, stable production processes that offer manufacturers the necessary economies of scale, the company would achieve its goal: „Electric cars for millions, not just millionaires.“

Prof. Burkard Göschel, a former BMW technical director, is the long-serving FIA representative for e-mobility and the Formula E racing series. He believes taking consumers on board is the key to enabling the new drives to break through. The best strategy, he said, was to offer exciting, emotionally appealing products that exploit the benefits of electric drives to the full. „Let’s face it: we buy cars more with our gut than our head. So the key point is the emotionality of electric cars.“ One way to convey that was with the right package and a compelling design – the secret of Tesla’s success. Göschel said Formula E was also useful for sparking enthusiasm and helping customers decide that EVs are for them. Ulbrich referred to VW’s electric victory at the famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event. He said the victorious I.D.R made hearts beat faster – and proved that “electromobility is the best way to drive sustainably and leave no trace.“
Ulbrich believes many clouds that were hindering the breakthrough have now been dispersed, saying „The time is right!“ He counted them off on his fingers: Range: technically solvable. Price: ditto, via mass production. Charging infrastructure: still needs support in Germany, admittedly. He said upcoming battery technologies supported his optimism: Volkswagen was already working on solid fuel batteries, and could always pick the right technology and partners at the right time.

Automotive Summit 2018 – Executive Summary

In early December 2018, over 600 automotive experts from all over the world – including manufacturers and suppliers, tech and energy companies, politicians and associations – attended the auto industry summit in Wolfsburg, Germany. From 3 – 5 December, the industry’s big hitters discussed strategies, concepts and technologies for tomorrow’s automobiles and the future course of their industry.

We’ve compiled the highlights from the Handelsblatt Auto Summit 2018 in an interactive follow-up report.