Tesla Motors was the beneficiary of high praise at a German automotive conference last week. Stefan Niemand, director of battery electric vehicles at Audi, had nothing but criticism for his colleagues. According to the EE Times Europe, Niemand told the Technical Congress of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) at its annual meeting near Stuttgart that electric cars European manufacturers are bringing to market fall far short of customer expectations.
“These cars are slower than those with conventional drive and they have a much lower range – and in compensation they are more expensive,” he said. Unless the strategy is changed, electric cars will not make significant gains in the marketplace any time soon, he warned.
Niemand said buyers want to buy cars that do not degrade the environment and are even willing to pay a premium for them, but only if they do not have to give up the fun of driving them. In particular, he lamented that Europe does not yet have a comprehensive infrastructure of fast charging stations. He told his colleagues that they must commit to building a system that features charging stations with at least 350 kW of power. “We need awesome cars and a seamless infrastructure,” he said.
If the industry would adjust its focus to give customers those two things, he thinks acceptance of electric cars would skyrocket. “Those who had ever driven electrically are lost for the internal combustion engine for all times,” he said, but they must have access to adequate charging facilities to complete their journeys.
The Audi executive had high praise for Tesla because of its commitment to building its Supercharger network. “I hate to admit it, but Tesla did everything right”, he said. He marveled at how Tesla created a system of 611 Supercharger locations with more that 3,600 individual chargers in such a short period of time. The inference left for his colleagues to draw upon was that unless they are willing to make a similar commitment, they are in danger of falling further and further behind their American rival.