"The future is electric": a rapidly growing catchphrase in the automotive industry, and one that Volkswagen appears to be banking on more than most.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen CEO Dr Martin Winterkorn outlined his company's plans to extend its range of hybrid and electric-drive vehicles, starting with a test fleet of 500 electric Golfs in 2011.
The electrified Golfs - likely to debut on the market with the next-generation Golf - will join the new Touareg Hybrid, along with hybrid versions of the new Jetta and Passat models, scheduled to launch in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Speaking at Volkswagen's Electronics Research Lab in California this week, Dr Winterkorn reconfirmed the company's electrified goals.
"The automotive industry is reinventing itself, and Volkswagen will be the first automaker to mass-produce the electric car for everyone," he said.
The upcoming E-Up, Volkswagen's first all-electric model previewed at Frankfurt last year, is slated for production in 2013.
"Volkswagen will be taking E-mobility to mass production. In 2011, we are expanding our test fleet by adding 500 Golfs with electric drive. A hybrid version of the Jetta for the US market follows in 2012," Dr Winterkorn said.
Starting in 2013, the E-UP goes into production. The goal is to become the market leader in E-mobility by the year 2018. We want to attain an electric vehicle market share of three percent within our entire range of products."
"We will take the hybrid out of its niche status with our high-volume models. In the future, the heart of the brand will also beat with electricity."
Following the introduction of the E-Up in 2013, Volkswagen plans to launch an onslaught of electric vehicles, including the E-Golf and the E-Jetta. Future models beyond 2013 will be engineered from the outset to accommodate full electric powertrains.
"This technological competence will be advanced in Volkswagen's modular strategy of flexibly integrating hybrid and E-drives over a wide variety of vehicle platforms in all of the Group brands", Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, Group Chief Officer for Electric Traction said.
"We will continue to systematically exploit the potential of internal combustion engines with the goal of significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions. So over the mid-term, vehicles with electric drives and those with internal combustion engines will co-exist."
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