Moving electric today according to the CEO of Volkswagen Group Italia.
When people say electric cars are a difficult and inconvenient way of getting around, I tell them they’re wrong – and I speak from experience. As a big fan of e-mobility, I have been using a fully electric car for some time. At first I drove an e-Golf and an e-Up! before moving on to a SEAT Mii electric; now I’ve got a Volkswagen ID.3.
Compared to a couple of years ago, things have really changed. From a technology viewpoint, there’s absolutely no doubt that the ID.3 has ushered in a new era of mobility that is radically different to the past and means travelling without sacrifices is now a reality. And then there is the infrastructure, which is growing pretty fast.
Analyses and business sector researches show that purchase prices and recharging are two of the main barriers to e-mobility expansion.
As regards the first point, I think things are pretty clear: there’s more work to be done on pricing for fully electric models, but they are becoming increasingly accessible. The commitment of car manufacturers is clear: in our case, the Volkswagen Group has made a significant investment in the MEB project. This platform will underpin a lot of the models across the Group’s various brands (its reach will also extend further, as we have made it available to the competitors too) and will allow us to achieve economies of scale and lower car prices faster. The more electric vehicles there are on the road, the more affordable they will become.
At the same time, purchase incentives for zero emission cars are also driving electric mobility take-up. But we need to plan things out and consider a broader timescale for progress – both so customers have the chance to schedule their purchase and so carmakers can draw up a sensible industrial restructuring programme. And neither must we neglect the fleet industry or N1 and N2 vehicles. If we are to address upgrading all vehicles in circulation, both segments clearly have an important role to play.
When you think about the daily use of an electric car, three main scenarios emerge: getting around cities, travelling medium distances and travelling long distances. In each case, e-mobility is already an option.
When I travel around town, average trips are short - which means that charging is not complicated (you don’t have to fully charge the battery every day, just as much as you need every 2-3 days). And, besides, the statistics are clear on one thing: cars are parked 90% of the time. That means that you can easily use some of that time to charge them. Where? At home, at the office or at a public charging point. As of December 2020, Italy had 19,000 publicly accessible charging points (shopping centres, supermarkets, etc.).
When I travel medium distances, things are fairly similar (charging frequency or time will change), partly because the models on the market now offer suitable ranges for this kind of scenario.
If I need to make a longer journey, then something new comes into play: a change in mindset. I can comfortably travel long distances, and in fact I regularly make the journey from Verona to Rome and vice versa with no issues. However, at the moment, I need to do a bit of planning – in other words schedule one or two stops to charge.
There’s nothing complicated about this: all you do is locate the most convenient HPC (High Power Charging) stations for your trip and set off. HPC cuts charging times dramatically; in the time it takes to make a “traditional” stop in a service station for a coffee or a sandwich, your car is ready to go again. Try it for yourself!
This is why HPC marks a real turning point and opens up new possibilities for e-mobility. We need to work on rolling it out everywhere – to motorways and main roads, but also to cities, where it would be an excellent way of showing urban dwellers how, in less than half an hour, you get either a week’s worth of city driving or the chance to make a last-minute trip.
CEO, Volkswagen Group Italia
ID.3 – power consumption in kWh/100 km (NEDC): 15.4-14.5 (combined); CO2 emissions in g/km: 0; efficiency class: A+