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No incentives needed for EVs: Volkswagen

Coming soon: Volkswagen will start to roll out a number of EVs under its ID sub-brand, including the ID Buzz.

Developing EV market should be free of government interference, says VW boss

Volkswagen logo3 Nov 2017

By TIM ROBSON

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch has ruled out the notion of governments offering incentives to consumers to purchase electric vehicles (EVs), including those from his own company.

The German car-maker is working towards a deadline of 2025 of having one-third of its new car fleet propelled by either electric or petrol-electric hybrid powerplants, and Mr Bartsch said it will fall to the free market to construct a suitable infrastructure.

The electrified model range will include the ID family of EVs that will start to roll out in 2020, which includes the ID, ID Buzz, ID Crozz and one other yet-to-be-named EV.

Mr Bartsch categorically dismissed the notion that federal or state governments should provide financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles.

“I think it’s wrong. I think it’s fundamentally wrong,” he told journalists at the launch of the Arteon sedan in Hobart this week. “Why should the public first pay for something? Why distort the market with incentives? “I’m really against it. I think what should be allowed to happen is let the entrepreneurs, the capitalists, work it out.”

Mr Bartsch said that it does not make good economic sense to offer incentives to potential purchasers, arguing that it is not a sustainable model.

 center imageLeft: VW Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch.

“At some point, the government will say, ‘We’ve done this long enough’. I’ve seen it in the US with the (Toyota) Prius and the Nissan Leaf. At a state level, the government gave US$3000 subsidies on these cars. Sales went through the roof. Then they got taxpayer fatigue, they pull it off, and all of a sudden, the whole thing crashes. You really want to avoid that here.”

Volkswagen Australia general manager of marketing and product Ben Wilks added that the pricing structure for the EV range has already been clearly defined by the Volkswagen Group.

“The clearly stated objective of Volkswagen, is, in order for hybrid, electric hybrid, electric, to be successful, the price point in the market has to be equivalent as to what one would pay today for a diesel,” said Mr Wilks. “I think that’s really important.”

Mr Bartsch also dismissed the idea that his company would bankroll its own version of a charging network.

“In my logic, that’s the same as saying ‘are we going to set up our own petrol stations to run cars?’ Why would we do that?” he said. “Somebody’s going to do it more efficiently, because you’re going to get economies of scale.”

The housing construction industry may be the first bastion of EV infrastructure rollout, according to Mr Bartsch, who also predicted that regular, short-distance commuters would be the first to adopt to EV cars.

“They will he building power stations in their garage and basements,” he said.

And the people who will buy these cars first will have very defined travel routes.

“It’s not like we will wake up one morning and all of a sudden, 30 per cent of everything is going to be electric. It’s going to be a gradual curve. I think the real challenge is not around the concept of infrastructure.

“The real challenge, ultimately, will be producing enough electricity. But that’s a big geo-political question. That’s nothing I can touch on.”

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