Mike Stevens | Sep 14, 2009

SPEAKING WITH GERMAN magazine Stern, Volkswagen Research and Development chief Dr Ulrich Hackenberg echoed earlier comments by CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn that the carmaker will have an all-electric vehicle on the market by 2013.

Adding credence to speculation that the EV would be a production version of the Up! concept, Hackenberg said that the car would be powered by a small 60kW to 70kW electric motor.

Hackenberg said that while conventional internal combustion vehicles will likely dominate the market for the next 15 years, electric vehicles will become much more commonplace and affordable over the next decade.

Volkswagen's R&D boss believes that, for the foreseeable future, electric vehicles capable of a 95-115km driving range will be more than suitable for most urban driving.

Hackenberg continued, saying that technology and battery advances will see 300-500km ranges becoming possible, making long-distance interstate trips more viable and electric cars more appealing in the process.

In an industry presentation in July, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn criticised the German auto industry for not investing strongly in the research and development of electric technology.

He also confirmed then that Volkswagen was working on an electric platform that will underpin its Up line of ultra small cars.

"It [electric technology] will significantly influence the future of individual mobility," Winterkorn said, pointing to fast recharge systems - requiring less than two hours for a fully recharged battery - as the key to success for any electric car program.

"The German automobile industry did not work consequently enough in developing electric technology," Winterkorn said.

The Up! range however may initially appear with petrol and diesel engines, with the EV to follow.

Volkswagen's previously-revealed electric car technology centres around a hydrogen fuel-cell paired with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack (as opposed to the older nickel cadmium technology used in most hybrid vehicles).

vw-electric-plug

On electric power alone, Volkswagen says its system will allow for a driving range of up to 105km - suitable for most urban travel requirements.

The hydrogen component is unlikely to feature in the production electric Up vehicle however, leaving sole power to the lithium-ion batteries and electric motor.

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