Volkswagen’s premier brand Audi and Porsche are set to challenge Tesla in the electric vehicle market. The VW flagship brands launched their own all-electric vehicles in the Frankfurt Motor Show on September 14.
Despite experts predicting a sharp sales growth, the popularity of electric vehicles did not really take off owing to multiple reasons, including limited driving range, high price tags and shortage of charging stations. However, Tesla powered by its advanced battery technology enjoyed success and remained a leader by delivering reasonably priced EVs with extended driving range.
Now Germany’s highly popular Audi and Porsche seem to be set to take on the EV pioneer, Tesla. Audi launched its sport-utility concept, e-Tron quattro and Porsche unveiled its first battery-driven sports car, Mission E, in the Frankfurt Motor Show. The driving range of both the EVs is estimated to be around 500 km or above, an unprecedented quantum leap in the EV market.
Analysts opine that the launch of EVs from heavyweight automakers could attract the environment-conscious among the wealthy. However, the newly launched EVs could also enhance the credibility of the all-electric market which could be beneficial for Tesla. Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel said,’ It will certainly sharpen the public focus on electric and increase overall awareness,’ referring to the entry of auto bigwigs into the EV league.
Although both EVs are expected to be available only around 2018-19, the current unveiling is, perhaps, meant to slightly blunt the effect of Model X, Tesla first luxury electric crossover. Tesla is planning to start deliveries of Model X on September 29, reports Autonews.
At the Frankfurt show, Volkswagen also unveiled its Tiguan GTE, an electric hybrid model of its overhauled compact car, which is going to be available across Europe next year. A variant with a long wheelbase is also expected to be available in the US in 2017.
VW Group Chairman, Martin Winterkorn, said that his company is planning to launch 20 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020, affirming the automotive giant’s commitment to electrification. He added that the new range of plug-in hybrids and/or all-electric vehicles would cover their entire line-up from small cars to the high-end ones such as Audi 8 and the next Phaeton.
The all-electric concept from Audi represents a change in strategy for the company which hitherto only undertook to build electric options for its existing models such as it R8 sports car instead of developing a totally new electric variant as done by BMW with its ‘i’ brand of electric vehicles. While Audi’s e-Tron quattro promises to match Tesla’s S P90D model’s driving range of 500 km, Porsche’s Mission E promises to deliver a driving range of over 500 km.
The Mission E would be designed to meet all expectations of any Porsche sports car model and there will be no compromise on either the sportiness or its daily usability, confirmed company sources. Ivan Drury of Edmunds.com, a US-based automotive website, opined that Tesla had already set high standards in the all-electric market and although they were not the first makers of electric vehicles, the popularity of their vehicles stem from the fact that the company did not compromise on style, design and performance metrics. New entrants would need to match these high standards if they intend to make any mark.