VW Tries Shock-and-Awe to Win the Transformation to an Age of Electric Vehicles
The company promises 12-minute charging everywhere
Boring old batteries have rarely had it so good. A good two centuries after their invention, they are sought-after with the same fraught urgency of the prospectors who hunted oil in the middle-late tailfin decades of the last century. The latest to make this bald determination plain is Volkswagen, which is throwing everything at an electric coming-out party meant to demonstrate its tech-on-wheels bona fides. Yesterday, the German company held an almost two-hour international webcast to tout its quest to master battery parts rarely earning such attention, such as high-manganese cathodes and lithium-metal anodes. Its executives summoned a global press conference at 4 a.m. Eastern today in case the media had follow-up questions. One set of impressed folks was Wall Street, who yesterday bid up VW’s share price by more than 7%, to heights not seen since before Dieselgate, the shameful chapter of smog-device cheating that the company hopes will now finally be consigned to history.
As part of the multiday VW show, Dustin Krause, director of e-mobility for VW North America, passed not far from my home in the Washington, D.C. suburbs on Saturday. He was on an 18-day, cross-country PR journey in an ID.4, the company’s just-released electric crossover SUV. My elder daughter and I went to take a look.
The car is a tight drive around curves, with good acceleration as you would expect, super comfortable seats, and lots of legroom in back. After she took a turn driving, my daughter said she wants one. They cost $40,000, so that will wait. The car honestly has pretty basic looks — VW may have to do more inside to get that kind of money.
But Krause, traveling with a surprisingly large video and social media crew, told me some interesting enticements VW is throwing at buyers, such as three years of unlimited fast charging. “Fast charging” is a tricky word when it comes out of the mouths of people promoting batteries or EVs, but in this case, VW really does mean pretty rapid. That morning, Krause said, he had pushed 200 miles of charge into the battery in just a half hour. He said you can do that every time with no serious degradation to the battery…