Volkswagen is serious about its electric vehicle business. This is evident in the German automaker’s efforts to release its first mass-market electric car, the ID.3. The vehicle has received its own fair share of acclaim and criticism since its release, but as Volkswagen continues its EV push with the ID.4 crossover, it appears that the veteran automaker is now dealing with something that Tesla has been battling: anti-electric car FUD.
In a recent article on Cicero Magazine, author Nils Heisterhagen sharply criticized Volkswagen for its “irritatingly energetic” focus on electric vehicles. The author questioned the veteran automaker’s dedication to battery-only vehicles, stating that alternative fuels are a better option, since most cars will have a combustion engine in the future anyway. “Shouldn’t we focus on synthetic fuels when most cars will have combustion engines in the foreseeable future?” the EV critic noted.
The author also criticized Volkswagen for pushing electric cars so much when the development of charging infrastructure for EVs will be extremely expensive. Heisterhagen cited a study from the Handelsblatt Research Institute claiming that 1,000,000 electric cars would require the support of 100,000 charging stations. Considering these challenges, the author argued that it would have been more practical if Volkswagen had focused on alternative fuels like hydrogen instead.
“Building the charging infrastructure is extremely expensive. For Germany alone, we are talking about multi-billion investments by 2030 – and that in addition to the existing filling station infrastructure. So why not use the existing filling station infrastructure – for hydrogen and e-fuels?” Heisterhagen wrote, lamenting the automaker’s resistance to hydrogen and other alternative fuels.
Electric mobility expert Auke Hoekstra has responded to Heisterhagen’s points, defending Volkswagen and setting the record straight about why all-electric vehicles will likely be the reason why the veteran German automaker will thrive in the EV age. According to Hoekstra, the author’s points don’t hold any water since synthetic fuels require a lot of energy and are thus extremely expensive. This is the same for e-fuels and hydrogen.
This is extremely ironic considering that the author was criticizing EVs over the cost of their charging infrastructure. Hoekstra noted that if one were to run the numbers, the massive costs associated with the rollout of an EV charging infrastructure would likely be “pocket change” compared to the costs of developing and transitioning into alternative fuels. With this in mind, the electric mobility expert argued that the aggressive EV push from Volkswagen is a step in the right direction after all.
“I must say that the “irritatingly energetic” (the writer’s words) of the electric drivetrain by Volkswagen is the only reason still see a future for the German car industry,” Hoekstra wrote.
Volkswagen’s EV push has earned the respect of electric car leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who previously stated that the automaker, under the guiding hand of Herbert Diess, is “doing more than any big carmaker to go electric.” Musk has shown his support for Volkswagen’s electric car efforts, even test-driving the ID.3 with Diess during his recent visit to Germany. A video taken during the test drive showed that the Tesla CEO and the VW executive were on friendly terms, with Musk even joking “What’s the worst that could happen?” while flooring the ID.3.