Will VW Now turn to EVs?

October 5, 2015

We got our daughter a lightly used V-dub Passat.  Great car. Glad I didn’t hold out for a Diesel.
But could there be a silver lining to the current Volkswagen scandal?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently commented on the possibility that the scandal could turn the auto industry more toward EV technology. Starts at 1:10 in the vid above.

Green Car Congress:

Reflecting on the implications of the still evolving Volkswagen emissions testing scandal (“a vehicle emissions scandal of unprecedented proportions”), analysts at Lux Research suggest that one outcome of the crisis could be an aggressive push by Volkswagen to accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

VW was slowly moving beyond conventional gasoline and diesel engines anyway, Lux noted, with plans of putting out 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020 (earlier post)—such as the production version of the Audi e-tron quattro. (Earlier post.) Volkswagen has also invested in next-generation batteries, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state. (Earlier post.)

VW is actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess. They have been spending most on the R&D of any OEM (about $11 billion in 2013), and they are the largest automaker by volume. Arguably, no major OEM is better positioned than they are to decisively accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, putting the shine back on their tarnished image. However, they probably lack the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.

—Lux Research

Full explanation of the scandal here:

Charged the EV Magazine:

The developing VW scandal has highlighted the lengths to which some automakers will go to find an alternative to electrification. Some industry gadflies have speculated that Volkswagen might opt to redeem itself by becoming a (sorely needed) leader in the electromobility field.

“With hydrocarbon combustion we’ve hit the limits of physics,” Elon Musk told Auto Express. “If I was taking over VW, I’d go the other way and aim to be a leader [in clean vehicles].”

Musk obviously doesn’t agree with car company execs who whine to regulators that electrification will bankrupt them. “All car companies will go electric eventually,” he said. “Any car company that doesn’t go electric will be out of business.”

Now an analysis by Lux Research points out that, ironically, VW has great potential to be an EV trendsetter. The company has already announced plans to produce as many as 20 more plug-in vehicles by 2020, and has been investing in next-generation battery technologies, including lithium-sulfur and solid-state.

“VW is actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess,” write Lux analysts. “They have been spending the most on R&D of any OEM (about $11 billion in 2013), and they are the largest automaker by volume. Arguably, no major OEM is better positioned than they are to decisively accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, putting the shine back on their tarnished image.”

However, before we all shout “Let’s do it!” and march out of the VW boardroom into the brave green future, to the strains of inspiring music, let’s read the rest of what Lux has to say:

“VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.”

34 Responses to “Will VW Now turn to EVs?”

  1. Gingerbaker Says:

    Let me see if I have this straight.

    If VW “fixes” this software, then the car will now have to deliberately waste more fuel in order to activate the NO2 scrubber, which will then start to function and clean the exhaust? And this will result in lower mileage for owners who get the fix?

    This seems to me to not be so much a software issue, but rather a NO2 scrubber which is not designed to work under normal driving conditions?

  2. sotexguy Says:

    Great!

    But believe nothing Musk says. His top product is Musk!

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Ho-hum. Musk again, now trolling for investors in Germany that may want to throw their money into a company that loses money on every car it sells. The new Tesla model is out and costs “only” $142,000. Yep, there’s a man who knows how to talk to the people that make the “people’s car”.

    And the BS artists at Lux will fill your head with donkey dust for a fee that they will NOT disclose on their website—you have to call them (and ask what they think of Solar Roadway stock while you’ve got them on the line).

    OT but germane. Musk did NOT mention Mars once in the clip. Is it because he is getting his Mars Madness under control? We shall see, but I think he’s just laying low while the full impact of the move The Martian sinks in.

    The Martian is an absolutely terrific movie. Ridley Scott does it again. It is full of mostly very good science and only a little bad science. And the Mars landscapes seem real enough if nothing like reality. I enjoyed it immensely, way more than Gravity, which I thought was a pretty good flick even if it had a lot more “bad science”. If you know any science at all, you have to sit there and keep saying to yourself “It’s a movie, I came here for entertainment, not truth”, but The Martian didn’t require all that much of that. Unless of course, you want to talk about the BEYOND astronomical odds of a marooned astronaut surviving beyond a few weeks on Mars as Matt Damon did.

    What the movie is besides a great way to spend two hours is a propaganda piece that Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud of. It is full of great looking “gear” of all kinds, and the number of NASA emblems that appear is beyond count. There’s a real love affair between this movie and NASA, and it will have lots of kids saying “I want to be an astronaut and go to Mars!”.

    It’s interesting that was released within days of the announcement of the “discovery” of water on Mars, AND that there are now articles appearing in the paper quoting NASA types saying “We’d really love to go to Mars and a lot of our programs are pointing in that direction, but we just don’t have the $$$$ in the budget” (HINT-HINT, Teddy Cruz, are you listening?).

    Back on topic to VW. Lux says “VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.” Probably true, as it is with most corporations that “sin”—when I heard the news, I said to myself “It was deliberate and planned—not a mistake. They’ll be lucky to survive—this is going to cost them tens of billions”

    • MorinMoss Says:

      “The new Tesla model is out and costs “only” $142,000”

      That’s the price of the fully-loaded Signature Series with Ludicrous Mode.

      Some of the owners on the forum have done a breakdown of the options and it’s
      roughly comparable to Model S pricing so Musk’s assertion that the Model X will cost no more than $5000 more than a comparable Model S appears to be legit.

      Yes, it’s expensive but the luxury SUV segment is healthy.
      Porsche has no trouble selling every Cayenne they make, a vehicle that diehard old school Porsche aficionados thought was a ridiculous move – and now they have 7 models ranging from $65k – $175k.

      BWM X5 has been selling ~100,000 units for the past 5 years, about 1/2 of those in the USA. Tesla will undoubtedly poach some of those sales, especially of the X5M or X6M.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Just as one can always hook Russell Cook by talking about his baseball cap, one can do the same with Morin Moss by saying anything about Musk or Tesla that interferes with MM’s bright-sided hero worship. Don’t even have to chum, just a little bait on the hook and WHAM!

        MM continues to try to rationalize about Tesla by pointing fingers and talking about how OTHER car companies are also catering to the rich. The difference is that they are apparently making money on the cars they sell while Tesla loses money on every one that rolls out the door.

        Redsky talks about how a “reasonably priced” Tesla is coming in 2017. I wonder how they will make any profit on it when they can’t seem to make any money on cars that are priced four times as high.

        What’s “ludicrous” is Musk’s business plan. The luxury SUV segment may be “healthy”, but anyone who sells cars into it at a loss is not.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          You’re not the only one on a mission to stamp out, or at least swat, ignorance.

          And I don’t get why so many people , especially Americans would despise Musk so much.

          He’s started a car company in a state with a notoriously difficult business climate, in an abandoned factory that was vacated by TWO major automakers.

          He’s building the world’s largest battery factory – in America.

          His cousin is building a solar panel manufacturing plant that’s twice as large as the current largest US one – in America.

          And he runs a rocket company – does it need to said?.
          Okay, it does – in America.

          Or to put it another way, jobs, jobs, jobs – in America ( although not exclusively )

          Yes, his current (no pun intended) electric vehicles aren’t within the reach of the Everyman – yet sell about as well as the ones that are ( Leaf & Volt ).
          And he’s following his stated plan – start on the high end, aim for the middle.

          The reveal date for that car is about 6 months away.
          Sit tight. Musk & Mars aren’t going anywhere.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I don’t “despise” Musk, I merely question whether he’s the hero you see or simply a self-promoter—-one that may end up walking away from a bunch of failed companies with a lot of money in HIS pocket, but not in the pockets of those who bought his stock, to say nothing of the negative impact the failure of his ventures would have on the fight against AGW. I wish him well, because I want us to fight AGW, but I am NOT going to be blinded by hero worship and ignore the $$$$ problems he faces or the LUDICROUS BS he spouts about Mars, which are a distraction from his real mission.

            You heard it here first—-we are NEVER going to colonize Mars as Musk and NASA dream we might, and I’ll give 1000 to 1 odds that we won’t even send a manned mission there either. Our problems here on Earth will soon become all-consuming and eat up every spare penny. That’s why I want Musk to stop massaging his ego and talking about Mars, and instead get serious about his Earth ventures.

            And we know Mars isn’t going anywhere. In my mind, what’s still in doubt is whether Musk is going anywhere but down the tubes. Have you read about what Tesla stock is doing? Here are two places to start. The second link will lead you into many small “information alleys” over on the right.

            http://www.autoblog.com/2015/07/21/ubs-downgrades-tsla-to-sell-says-tesla-stock-will-hit-210/

            http://www.marketwatch.com/investing/stock/tsla

          • MorinMoss Says:

            It’s entirely possible that Musk is a long way from being a hero but even someone who knows him on a level that you and I never will and who probably has ample justification to take the shine off his halo, refers to him as brilliant & a visionary

            http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/advice/a5380/millionaire-starter-wife/

            That would be 1st wife Justine.

            “self-promoter”? Perhaps but he’s doing it wrong. Richard Branson is many times better at it.

            “may end up walking away from a bunch of failed companies with a lot of money in HIS pocket, but not in the pockets of those who bought his stock”

            That could happen but every move he makes comes under scrutiny so again, by working for $1, and relying on stock which he can’t sell much of without attracting attention, he’s doing it wrong again.

            I don’t know how his SpaceX remuneration works so perhaps he’s taking home big bucks there.

            I do agree that his Martian goals are fantasy, not fantastic and there’s not a snowball’s chance in Hell that there’ll be an 80,000 strong Martian colony by 2040.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I CANNOT believe that you linked to this LONG article because of the SINGLE SOLITARY SENTENCE in the whole thing in which Musk’s first wife says something positive about him—-“I will always respect the brilliant and visionary person that he is”.

            Did you read the rest of it? It makes him look very bad, and I found in the article MANY new reasons to not respect the man and question his character and reliability. Read this article and sell your Tesla stock folks, because it’s not just the Mars Madness thing that should concern us.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            I’ve read the article more than once on more than one occasion.
            I’ve also read Elon’s rebuttal because as a wise man once said, in every story involving 2 people, there’s his side, her side – and the truth.

            I don’t expect Musk to be perfect, I don’t expect him to be a joy to live with or to work for and I don’t even expect him to be completely sane.

            The list of outstanding, excellent or even great men who are also completely sane & saintly is very, very short.

            But Musk and people like him, get stuff done. And that’s what counts.
            I’m sure I’d be happier to have a beer with the good ol’ boys at the local watering hole than with any one who’s even remotely like Elon Musk.

            But neither I nor they will run more than 1 small business at a time, let alone simultaneously steering 3 large companies while fending off competitors, divorce lawyers or any other leeches, running around the world trying to sell a holistic vision of the future, raising a family and still finding time to dream.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            Steve Jobs was, by all accounts, an asshole. But I love my Mac, and I wish to God my Mom hadn’t sold that Apple stock in 1999.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Some “apples and oranges” thinking in there, and that’s not just a pun on the computer company name and the color of the soil on Mars.

            Jobs made a success out of his visions—-a profit—-and that stock I’m sorry I never bought and that your mom sold went up for that reason and rewarded those who bought it.

            Musk’s ventures are burning money like crazy, and have not made a profit. On the contrary, if it weren’t for government subsidies and infusions of $$$ from selling stock, he would have gone under long ago. Musk’s “visions” are admirable, and I wish him success because it would be mostly good for the planet if he succeeded, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is at this point an unsuccessful asshole who treated his first wife shamelessly. I suspect that if he does succeed at his ventures, he will likely become more like Trump, Limbaugh, Hannity, et al.

            PS I don’t have too much sympathy for those who buy his stock, because they are likely members of the 1%—-the greedy rich who are counting on getting richer by doing nothing but pushing paper around. Of course, most get richer by gambling on stocks, so they will accept a failure on Musk’s part as just part of the game and write off their losses on their taxes so the 99% can make them good.

          • MorinMoss Says:

            Here you go – Elon’s version

            http://www.businessinsider.com/correcting-the-record-about-my-divorce-2010-7

            Before you celebrate Jobs, recall that he got kicked out of Apple by a guy who used to sell artificially-colored sugar water and even when he made a triumphant comeback years later, he still needed a $150 million ($210 million adjusted) cash injection from Microsoft – and the infamous conference where a giant Gates talking head loomed ominously over a tiny Jobs.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I’m not the one “celebrating” Jobs, just mentioned the fact that Apple makes money (something Musk has yet to achieve).

            IMO, Musk’s “rebuttal” does make him look like a bigger asshole—-he mainly talks about $$$$, and he blithely ignores the fact that he walked away from someone who appears to be a perfectly good wife and 5 kids for not much reason and HAS taken up with “a (very sweet) young actress”. Sort of like Limbaugh and Trump, who are working on wives #3 and #4. How long will the new Mrs. Musk last, and what kind of prenups was she coerced into signing?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            You’ve “read the article more than once on more than one occasion”? That means that you have read it several times at one sitting, and then gone back and read it at later times? I find that hard to believe. Unless, of course, the MM that has made so many “sensible” comments on Crock in the past is simply suffering from terminal cognitive dissonance where Musk is concerned (and this comment of yours gives more evidence of that).

            I can’t be bothered to look up Musk’s rebuttal to Justine, but I WILL read it if you give us a link. And I will give odds that it will make him look like a bigger asshole and POS than the first article.

  4. redskylite Says:

    Tesla will release a more reasonably priced car in 2017 (the model 3), after their “gigafactory” has been completed and is functioning, The EV will be priced around $35,000. I for one admire Tesla’s cars for their pleasing styling and high mileage range between charging. Yes they are competing at the high end market with Ferrari, Lamborghinis etc., quite a bold entrance into the vehicle market, and hardly the working man’s choice at all (unless he wins a lottery)..

    Also SpaceX have launched scientific and climate related project satellites such as the NASA Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) mission. Musk is not entirely just focused on the planet Mars.

    Elon Musk is making a very positive difference in mankind’s effort to fight anthropogenic climate change and applaud him for his vision and drive.
    The V.W scandal has rightly caused outrage and anger, but most of the same media outlets that have highlighted the scandal have remained disturbingly silent on the even worse actions by Exxon, that were recently exposed by Inside Climate News.

    http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/tesla-s-electric-3-series-rival-sale-2015

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Can’t argue with much here. Yes, Tealas ARE impressive cars. Yes, they are NOT the EV we need for the “working man”, the market that must grow if EV’s are to have any impact at all on GHG emissions. Yes, it’s nice that Musk and SpaceX are doing some good things in space. (are they making a profit yet?). Yes, Musk is to be applauded for his “vision and drive”, although one could question whether he cares more about promoting himself than helping mankind deal with AGW.

      And yes, “Musk is not entirely just focused on the planet Mars”. My complaint has always been that he should not be talking about man going to Mars AT ALL. He needs to focus on solar power, batteries, EV’s, and most of all, MAKING A PROFIT so that he can continue to do “good works”.

      His insistence on talking about Mars (and nutty talk about nuking the ice caps to produce an “atmosphere”) makes me lose confidence in his intelligence, judgment and motivation. Talking about colonizing Mars is about ego and self-promotion—-not science—-and IMO it puts Musk in the same boat as Trump, i.e., run your mouth and demand that people pay attention because you’re rich and famous, not because your ideas are any good.

      As for the seeming lack of energy on going after Exxon, remember that the Merchants of Doubt have been busy denying AGW for a long time, and it’s going to take some time for a groundswell to build, just as it took a while to overcome the M of D on tobacco. I predict that it’s going to be much bigger when it comes, because AGW affects everybody and everything, not just smokers.

  5. Gingerbaker Says:

    Do you really want to double down on that baloney about Tesla losing money on every car?:

    http://bgr.com/2015/08/11/tesla-model-s-profits-4000/

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yes, I WILL double down on it. I saw that article, and although “Boy Genius” sold the BGR site, whoever wrote that article and quoted “an astute reader” with the McDonald’s comparison is no smarter than him. (FYI, Boy Genius was a high school dropout).

      The fact that Tesla has a 25% profit margin on the Model S tells us that they are doing some price-gouging on their well -off customers. Why? They are burning money and need all they can get, and since they can’t get enough from the “profit” they make on their cars, they are selling more stock to get more $$$ to “expand”, and are going even deeper in debt—-not by borrowing as the McD’s franchisee did and then paying down the loan, but by making a “promise” to investors.

      That’s great IF the fairy tale has a happy ending. Some folks thought Ponzi was a genius too. You can look at Tesla through the smoke and mirrors from any angle you choose, but I wouldn’t rely on the BGR article for much insight.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        So which is it doubledowndog – are they losing money on every car, or are they making an unethically-high profit of 25% on each one?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Both, actually, as you would discover if you spent the time to deal with the smoke and mirrors—-it all depends on where you stand when you look through them.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            Is this the same looking-glass used by Goebbels and Leni Riefenstahl? I have some Canon and a Sigma lens, but they don’t seem to bend reality like that.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Not quite—-as far as intent, there is “good” propaganda” and “bad” propaganda, and The Martian is far closer to “good” propaganda than what Goebbels and Riefenstahl did—-although Riefenstahl was very good at what she did, it was for a very bad cause.

            IMO, any NASA propaganda that distracts us from dealing with AGW today by holding out hope that Mars is “doable” is still pretty “bad” in that a whole lot of folks are going to die when CAGW occurs—-in that context, you could say that they will “kill” more people than the Nazis did. But that’s off in the future, so mankind need pay no attention today.

  6. Gingerbaker Says:

    If VW winds up being fined as much as the figures that are being thrown around today ($18 Billion), they won’t be able to afford to switch to EV’s.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      And what if they have to buy back all those cars? Or install new engines in them? What does that add up to on top of the fines?

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        I have a feeling that VW didn’t do this intentionally – nobody could be that stupid and dishonest. (OK, maybe our friend R.C.) I think it may have been an oversight by one guy who used a temporary chip algorithm or something and then forgot to take it out.

        Proprietary software is a bit of a black box, and if you lose just a tiny bit of institutional memory, nobody actually knows where that code came from or exactly what it does. Possible.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          From what we know so far, there’s little to let VW off the hook.
          I’ve read that any American car that failed emissions testing would be handled exclusively be a team from Germany with no involvement with the local engineers.

          That sounds incredible – and incredibly damning, if true.

  7. dumboldguy Says:

    Musk has apparently not recovered from Mars Madness. In fact, it may be getting worse. A portion of a MarketWatch piece:

    “When asked where he sees his next big venture and focus in 2015 Musk replied: “Hopefully, SpaceX is a good way toward building a Mars colonial transport system.”

    “He also clarified comments made last month about needing to drop nuclear bombs on the red planet, saying the environment there would be warm enough for humans if there were “two tiny suns over the poles.”

    “Those man-made suns would be created by detonating large fusion bombs above the planet, via a technology that might not exist yet, every few seconds, which would gasify frozen carbon dioxide and create an atmosphere in a sort-of greenhouse-like effect, he said.

    “A lot of people don’t appreciate that our sun is a giant fusion explosion,” he said”.

    And what a lot of people also don’t appreciate is that anyone who says anything this whacky is not to be trusted. (And did everyone catch “…via a technology that might not exist yet”. might not exist? yet? LOL>

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/elon-musk-touts-jump-in-tesla-demand-after-model-x-launch-2015-10-02


  8. […] VIDEO: Will VW Now turn to EVs? (Climate Crocks): However, before we all shout “Let’s do it!” and march out of the VW boardroom into the brave green future, to the strains of inspiring music, let’s read the rest of what Lux has to say: “VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.” […]

    • dumboldguy Says:

      How in the world can you say it wasn’t intentional? It was actually very “smart” (if you’re dishonest) to do what they did, and they DID get away with it for a long time and made a lot of money off it. A “temporary” algorithm that someone “forgot” to take out? Lord love a duck, but even Omnologos wouldn’t say that.

      And are you in love with VW the way Morin Moss is in love with Tesla?


  9. […] VIDEO: Will VW Now turn to EVs? (Climate Crocks): However, before we all shout “Let’s do it!” and march out of the VW boardroom into the brave green future, to the strains of inspiring music, let’s read the rest of what Lux has to say: “VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies.” […]


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