Volkswagen is going all in on electric cars, with plans to build battery factories in Europe, install a network of charging stations and slash the cost of emission-free travel.
That was the message Monday as the German carmaker staged a so-called Power Day to showcase its latest electric car technology. The event was Volkswagen’s answer to Tesla’s Battery Day presentations, which draw intense attention from investors and electric car buffs.
The session included a number of attention-getting announcements, including a promise that Volkswagen would cut the cost of batteries by up to 50 percent by the end of the decade, while slashing charging time to 12 minutes. That would make electric cars cheaper than gasoline vehicles and just as convenient.
Volkswagen also unveiled plans to build six battery factories in Europe in joint ventures with suppliers. And by 2025, the company said, it would have 18,000 charging stations on the continent operating in conjunction with energy companies including BP. The British oil producer said it would offer charging at its filling stations.
General Motors or Volvo Cars in setting a precise expiration date for internal combustion engines.
Volkswagen is the biggest carmaker in Europe and second biggest in the world after Toyota. The subtext of Monday’s presentations by a parade of Volkswagen executives was that the company is deploying its industry and government connections, its financial resources, and its eight decades of manufacturing expertise to keep Tesla from eating its lunch.
“Our transformation will be bigger than anything the industry has seen in the past century,” Herbert Diess, the chief executive of Volkswagen, said during the two-hour presentation.
The event coincided with the rollout in the United States of the ID.4, an electric S.U.V. that is part of the first generation of Volkswagens designed from the ground up to run on batteries and seen as serious challengers to Tesla’s dominance in electric cars. The first ID.4s, with a starting price of $40,000 before government rebates, began arriving at American dealers this week.
At least some analysts are starting to believe Volkswagen’s hype. The Swiss bank UBS issued a report this month that ranked Volkswagen just behind Tesla in electric vehicle technology.
Tesla shares have plunged in recent weeks as it dawns on some investors that the California company may not have a monopoly on electric cars. Volkswagen shares have recovered their prepandemic value and then some. But investors still value Tesla at six times as much as Volkswagen, and the German company faces enormous challenges.