As it reels from the ongoing diesel-emissions cheating scandal, Volkswagen is cutting spending and putting future expansion and development projects on hold.
But apparently there's one future vehicle that will continue to progress despite of these circumstances.
As part of an announcement regarding near-term strategy released yesterday, the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management confirmed that an all-electric version of the next-generation Phaeton luxury sedan is on the way.
Officials claim the new full-size luxury model has been "redefined" to incorporate "pure electric drive with long distance capability."
Volkswagen is also aiming for greater use of connectivity and driver-assistance features, and an "emotional design," the announcement said.
The Brand Board of Management claims to view the Phaeton as VW's technology flagship, and so feels it should showcase an electric powertrain on this model.
2011 Volkswagen Phaeton
The electric powertrain may be offered alongside an internal-combustion option, likely using a new version of the VW Group's W-12 engine.
Earlier this year, there was a report that Volkswagen would offer a Phaeton plug-in hybrid, and that the entire redesigned Phaeton lineup would debut around 2017.
The current-generation Phaeton was introduced back in 2002. It failed spectacularly in the U.S. and was withdrawn after the 2006 model year, but it has lingered in Europe with two separate sets of mid-cycle updates.
The unlikely Phaeton, the brainchild of VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piech, was VW's attempt to build a competitor to traditional luxury flagships like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Lexus LS.
Taking full advantage of its broad array of brands, VW used underpinnings from the similarly-sized Audi A8 and Bentley Continental family.
It also built the Phaeton in an elaborate "glass house" factory in Germany designed and constructed solely for that purpose.
2006 Volkswagen Phaeton
But U.S. buyers simply couldn't wrap their heads around an ultra-luxury VW that looked like a somewhat larger Passat--especially when Audi was selling a nearly identical A8 sedan, which featured a lighter aluminum body to boot.
Given that discouraging history, it's hard to say whether the next-generation Phaeton will be sold in the U.S.
It's likely that Volkswagen in the U.S. will have to cope with the effects of a damaged brand for some years to come, and it's not clear what a $75,000-plus electric sedan would contribute to the needed renaissance.
Even if VW withholds the Phaeton, though, it may soon import more and longer-range electric cars and plug-in hybrid models.
As part of the same announcement, the carmaker confirmed an "MEB Modular Toolkit" that will allow it to install electric powertrains in a wide array of vehicles.
The brand also plans to concentrate more heavily on plug-in cars overall from now on.