Although the technology for electric vehicles is progressing rapidly, no country has the infrastructure to support them, according to Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volkswagen America. Jacoby’s comments essentially echo what his boss, VW Group Chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn, recently outlined when he said electric vehicles are “very far away” from mass production. He told a group of reporters that electric cars are an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to the greening of our transportation industry, but just not any time soon.
“What would happen if 50 million new electric customers would plug their electric cars in an electric socket?” he said, “There is no country on earth that is really properly prepared for electric cars.” He added it could take 35 years for electric vehicles to gain a significant global market share.
Jacoby offered efficient gasoline and diesel engines as an interim. “We have to live for a certain period with fossil fuel engines,” he said, “The good news is that the existing engines can be dramatically optimized.” Jacoby predicted these engines will reach 70 mpg within 10 years.
VW’s European efforts aren’t far off — the upcoming Passat BlueMotion returns 48 mpg with the aid of start-stop technology, longer gears, low-friction driveshafts, low rolling resistance tires and lightweight wheels. And other, smaller vehicles like its Golf BlueMotion are reportedly capable of 60-mpg or more.
Currently, of the millions of automobiles sold worldwide each year, only a tiny percentage are powered by electrons. Even after new vehicles like the Chevy Volt come online, it will take a number of years before their combined sales get even close to that of the gasoline or diesel engine. It seems hard to believe it will take 35 years, but all the progress going on with alternative automotive technology is very encouraging.