With a new book imminent that gives new details on its diesel-emission cheating scandal, Volkswagen Group continues to struggle for positive corporate PR.
Yet the company publicly appears to be confident that it has weathered the worst of that storm.
Moreover, while its first high-volume electric cars won't hit the market until 2019 or 2020, the company promises great things once that happens.
Now, the CEO of the Volkswagen brand has said that the Group will "leapfrog" electric-car pioneer Tesla as it comes to dominate electric cars over the next eight years.
According to an article in the Financial Times yesterday (subscription required), Herbert Diess made the comments at a press conference specifically for the Volkswagen brand, held at the company's global headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The Volkswagen brand itself is targeting sales of 1 million electric cars a year in 2025, the volume Tesla claims it will reach by 2020.
“Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,” Diess is quoted as saying—bringing to mind nothing so much as the legendary song from the 1946 Broadway musical Annie, Get Your Gun.
That one's called simply, "Anything you can do, I can do better."
“We are confident that in this new world," Diess added, "we will become a market leader."
He suggested that the company's dedicated "MEB" electric-car architecture will give it cost advantages at a scale Tesla is unlikely to achieve.
Common underlying architectures allow dozens of different models from different brands to use underpinnings with common parts, technologies, and even assembly sequences.
The company has said that before 2020, it expects to build roughly 4 million of its global production of 10 million vehicles on the "MQB" transverse-engine architecture for small and medium-sized vehicles, including its signature Golf hatchback.
Volkswagen I.D. electric car concept, 2016 Paris auto show
While it is one of the three largest carmakers in the world—the others are General Motors and Toyota, with the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance not far behind—VW Group has lagged in profitability.
Restoring operating margins by 2020 through cutting costs is the first order of business for the post-scandal company.
Following that, the period 2020 through 2025 will focus on "taking the lead" in electric and connected cars, while further boosting margins.
CHECK OUT: Volkswagen ID: all-electric concept car at 2016 Paris auto show (Sep 2016)
Diess suggested that because Tesla started as a luxury maker, with cars priced at $70,000 or more, it would face challenges in building cars economically for the mass market.
It has said its Tesla Model 3, with a starting price of $35,000 and a range of 200 miles or more, will go into production this summer.
“It’s our ambition, with our new architecture," Diess said, "to stop them there, to rein them in" once Volkswagen's first dedicated electric car goes into volume production in 2019.
Volkswagen ID Crozz concept, 2017 Shanghai auto show [photo: Ronan Glon]
Tesla, which delivered 76,000 cars last year, is targeting sales of 200,000 cars this year and 500,000 in 2018.
Volkswagen now sells two battery-electric models in limited numbers: the VW e-Up, a minicar for the European market, and the e-Golf, an electric conversion of its seventh-generation Golf.
The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf is EPA-rated at 125 miles of range, higher than any other electric car that's not a Tesla or a Chevrolet Bolt EV, but it's only offered in a limited number of states.
VW Group has shown numerous electric concept cars from its Volkswagen and Audi brands; the first to enter production will be the 2019 Audi e-tron, an all-electric crossover utility vehicle.
Following that will be the 2020 Volkswagen ID, a compact five-door hatchback that will supplant the e-Golf in the VW lineup.