Tuesday, 23 February 2016
VW to build electric cars in the US?
As Volkswagen expands its powertrain options for the Up!, including an innovative electric power unit, reports from the US suggest the German automaker may have to build electric vehicles there to pacify regulators.
With an expanded choice of gasoline engines (now also including a turbocharged 66 kW/90PS 1-litre gasoline, natural gas or “innovative” electric drive units – VW claims the new up! “leaves nothing to be desired in terms of drive units".
But according to Reuters, US authorities have asked carmaker Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles in the US as a means of making up for rigging emission tests.
Reuters says the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in talks with Volkswagen with the aim of agreeing a fix for nearly 600,000 diesel vehicles that emit up to 40 times legal pollution limits.
The paper gave no source for its report but said the EPA is asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee as well as to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the US.
Some of Volkswagen's cars already feature electric or hybrid motors. It was not clear from Welt am Sonntag's report whether the EPA is seeking VW to produce new models or existing ones.
Five months after the emissions scandal broke in the United States, Europe's leading carmaker has yet to disclose a technical solution for almost 600,000 diesel cars as it faces a growing number of legal claims.
"Talks with the EPA are ongoing and we are not commenting on the contents and state of the negotiations," a VW spokesman said. EPA likewise declined to comment.
Meanwhile, German weekly tabloid Bild am Sonntag claims Hans Dieter Poetsch, the chairman of Volkswagen's supervisory board, was “summoned” by German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt on 16 February to give an update on the carmaker's progress in tackling the crisis.
According to the article, Poetsch pledged Volkswagen would do everything to solve the crisis, regardless of how that might impact individuals and positions at the company.
A spokesman for Volkswagen confirmed that Poetsch and Thomas Steg, head of group government relations at VW, updated Dobrindt on 16 February on the status of its internal investigation, but declined to give details about the nature of discussions.
VW will present its final report on the crisis to law firm Jones Day in April, according to Bild am Sonntag.