Those who want to buy an electric car must have deep pockets. This simple rule has proven true time and again in recent years, as truly affordable electric cars are hard to come by in this country. This situation is causing loud criticism, even from within the industry.
Dead end for electric cars? Prices must come down
Electric cars must finally become affordable. This is the only demand that not many customers would sign. It comes from ADAC President Christian Reinicke. The automotive expert accuses German manufacturers of setting the wrong priorities. They primarily sell expensive models.
A current example: Volkswagen. Just recently, CFO Arno Antlitz made it clear that customers should not expect falling prices anytime soon. Volkswagen wants to prioritize better margins over high sales figures. In other words: selling expensive cars instead of many cars.
Especially in the electric car segment, the Wolfsburg-based company will work even harder to improve the profitability of the cars. Basically, there are only two ways to do this: increase prices or reduce production costs.
According to Reinicke, however, e-mobility must not be reserved for "wealthy homeowners with a solar panel and their own wall box". The absence of affordable electric cars will become a problem not only for less affluent customers over time. In the long run, manufacturers may also suffer as strong vehicles from Chinese competitors are on the horizon, which German brands cannot match in terms of price.
Audi and Stellantis: CEOs react to strong Chinese competition
This is a concern shared by voices in the industry as well. Audi CEO Markus Duesmann recently made it clear: "We see a technology battle in China like I've never seen before." And further: "The German auto industry has underestimated the strength of Chinese competitors." Audi itself is already drawing consequences from this, and will completely discontinue the sale of plug-in hybrids in China. The domestic manufacturers are simply too strong.
Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares does not want to take this path. For him, it is now a matter of accepting the competition from China, as well as from Tesla with its aggressive price cuts. The boss of Europe's youngest automaker is warning strongly against allowing the electric vehicles of other manufacturers to displace European makes.
"There is only one way to solve the problem. We have to accept competition," says Tavares. Otherwise, Europe would quickly fall behind in the coming years. If the European industry and politics do not set the right course now, Europe will be nothing more than a pretty holiday destination for Chinese and American tourists in ten years' time.
He does not see the fight for the top spots in the international electric car market as lost, however: "It will be an exciting battle," says the Stellantis CEO.
Meanwhile, VW will continue to rely on the popular - and usually expensive - SUVs in the coming years. VW plans to introduce three new models, including at least one that, in terms of size, could be purchased at a relatively affordable price: an SUV version of the planned budget electric car ID.2, called ID.2X. However, it is doubtful whether this is what critics like Reinicke have in mind as an affordable electric car.
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