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Scandal-hit VW turns its sights to electric cars – US authorities extend deadline in ‘dieselgate’ scandal

In this file photo Volkswagen unveils the e-Golf Touch electric car during a keynote address at CES International in Las Vegas, United States. CEO Matthias Mueller said on June 16, the company plans to introduce more than 30 electric-powered vehicles by 2025, and to sell 2 to 3 million of them a year. (AP)
In this file photo Volkswagen unveils the e-Golf Touch electric car during a keynote address at CES International in Las Vegas, United States. CEO Matthias Mueller said on June 16, the company plans to introduce more than 30 electric-powered vehicles by 2025, and to sell 2 to 3 million of them a year. (AP)Volks

FRANKFURT, June 16, (AFP): Embattled auto giant Volkswagen unveiled Thursday plans to launch more than 30 all-electric models by 2025 as it seeks to reposition itself as a leading player in environmentally sustainable modes of transport.

VW, currently entangled in a global engine-rigging pollution scandal, said in a statement that it plans to launch “more than 30 fully electric models” by 2025, which would account for annual sales of between two and three million vehicles or 20-25 percent of the group’s global sales.

Presenting what he described as the “key building blocks in the new group strategy,” chief executive Matthias Mueller said VW aimed to “transform its core automotive business or, to put it another way, make a fundamental realignment in readiness for the new age of mobility.”

VW would focus on “the most attractive and fastest-growing market segments,” he said.

“Special emphasis will be place on e-mobility. The group is planning a broad-based initiative in this area: it intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles over the next ten years,” he said.

VW, which has so far not been particularly active in the electric car sector, estimated that such vehicles “could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market.”

The strategic re-think has become necessary in the wake of VW’s deepest-ever crisis after it came to light last September that it had installed emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

It has already set side 16.2 billion euros ($18.2 billion) in provisions to cover the potential costs of the scandal. But experts believe the total cost could come out much higher.

VW, which owns 12 brands in all, ranging from Volkswagen to Audi and from Porsche to SEAT, has abandoned its long-cherished goal of becoming the world’s biggest car manufacturer, ahead of Toyota.

“Size is not a goal in itself,” said CEO Mueller, who was parachuted in to steer the group out of crisis, actively distancing himself from the philosophy of his predecessor Martin Winterkorn.

Another part of VW’s “Strategy 2025” would be to set up a brand new “cross-brand mobility solutions business,” Mueller announced.

The new division would “develop and acquire offerings tailored to customer requirements — centering on and starting with ride hailing, ie. on-demand mobility services.”

Meanwhile, US authorities have again extended a deadline for embattled German carmaker Volkswagen to present the details of its plan to compensate US car owners affected by the massive engine-rigging scandal, a court said Thursday.

“Given the highly technical nature of the proposed settlements in these complex proceedings,” the district court in San Francisco handling the case said in a statement that it had decided to “extend the deadline” from June 21 until June 28.

It had already been pushed back from April until June.

A hearing will be held on July 26 to approve VW’s proposed deal, the court added.

VW was plunged into its deepest-ever crisis when it came to light last September that it had installed emissions-cheating software into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

And it is currently trying to reach agreement with the US authorities over the modalities for rectifying the problem and compensating car owners of the 500,000 vehicles affected in the US.

 

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