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VW commits to all-new electric Phaeton

Still the one: Despite falling well short of expectations, VW’s flagship Phaeton remains the embodiment of the company’s “technological competence and brand ambition” and will live on into a second generation.

Volkswagen flagship sedan to enter second generation with pure-electric powertrain

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Volkswagen logo15 Oct 2015

By TERRY MARTIN

VOLKSWAGEN has recommitted to its Phaeton flagship sedan, announcing this week that a second-generation model remains in development – and will feature an all-electric powertrain – despite the company slashing €1 billion ($A1.6b) per annum in investments due to the global diesel emissions-rigging scandal.

With 11 million Volkswagen Group vehicles fitted with a ‘defeat device’ to be recalled worldwide at a cost of untold billions, the German manufacturer is implementing a massive cost-cutting program and formulating new product strategies, including a greater emphasis on electrification headlined by a pure-electric version of its slow-selling Phaeton luxury sedan – a model that some pundits had suggested would be a casualty of the cutbacks.

“The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future,” said chief executive of the newly formed Volkswagen brand board of management, Herbert Diess.

“We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program.”

Never sold in Australia and withdrawn from the US market at the end of the 2006 model year due to slow sales, the undeniably competent and lavish Phaeton has tested the strength of the Volkswagen brand against established prestige marques such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW’s own Audi brand.

Despite falling well short of expectations, Volkswagen is sticking with the Phaeton and reaffirmed this week that it continues to embody the brand’s “technological competence and brand ambition”.

“The future generation of the Phaeton will once again be the flagship for the brand’s profile over the next decade,” Dr Diess said.

“In light of this, the board of management redefined the current project. The specification features a pure-electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design.”

While the electric version will pitch the Phaeton directly against Tesla’s Model S luxury sedan, Volkswagen has yet to confirm whether conventional powertrains will be available. The first generation has offered V6 petrol and diesel power, along with a V8 and W12 option.

Among other new product decisions, Volkswagen will now develop a standardised electric vehicle architecture for compact passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles – enabling an all-electric range of 250-500km – and “reorientate” its diesel engine strategy “with the most advanced technologies”.

In response to the current diesel emissions crisis, VW says all diesel powertrains in Europe and North America will be fitted with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) and AdBlue technology “as soon as possible” and that diesel vehicles “will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology”.

There is no specific mention of other markets, however GoAuto understands that VW Group engines sold in Australia – which cover the Skoda and Audi brands, along with Volkswagen – will have the same specification.

Longer term, VW’s has promised a “major development thrust” for the MQB platform with the focus on “plug-in hybrids with an even greater range, high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300km, a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid) as well as ever more efficient diesel, petrol and CNG concepts”.

The company said a new standard for connectivity and driver assistance systems will also be defined.

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