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In order to help recover from its diesel emissions difficulties and focus more on faster-growing market segments, Volkswagen is shifting its focus to include electric vehicles and autonomous driving. Volkswagen’s forecasts suggest that electric vehicle sales will be between two and three million units in 2025, equivalent to between 20 percent and 25 percent of the total unit sales expected at that time.

According to Automotive Engineer, Volkswagen said: “Special emphasis will be placed on e-mobility. The group is planning a broad-based initiative in this area: it intends to launch more than 30 purely battery-powered electric vehicles over the next ten years. The company estimates that such vehicles could then account for around a quarter of the global passenger car market.” To help build the line-up of new vehicles, Volkswagen will increase its knowledge of battery technology and bring a lot of the development work inside its company walls.

“A further lever for transforming the core automotive business is to develop new competencies. The group therefore intends to independently provide the resources necessary to address the future topic of autonomous driving and artificial intelligence. The aim is to license a competitive self-driving system developed in-house by the end of the decade,” explained Volkswagen.

As Volkswagen is looking to become a player in the electric vehicle market, Tesla is expanding the share it already has. CEO, Elon Musk, confirmed that the OEM’s current lineup of a premium sedan and SUV will be joined by a compact SUV, a pickup truck and the forthcoming mass-produced Model 3 sedan. In parallel to this, Tesla will continue to develop its autonomous technology with the aim of providing self-driving capability that is ten times safer than that of manual vehicles.

“As the technology matures, all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely. It is important to emphasize that refinement and validation of the software will take much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware,” added Musk.

Tesla doesn’t plan to stop there. Once full autonomy has been approved by regulators, Tesla plans to introduce a car sharing system whereby owners can hire out their vehicle on occasions when it would otherwise not be in use.

As the electric vehicle market continues to grow along with self-driving capability, automotive manufacturers seek to obtain a larger foothold. Tesla already has a presence in these areas. Volkswagen is redirecting resources to obtain its share. The next decade is going to be interesting for the automotive industry.


Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

(Photo: Volkswagen logo, Flickr)