The all-electric VW Buzz concept was revealed in Detroit
The tipping point where electric vehicles become a serious mainstream choice is fast approaching, according to Volkswagen sales boss Jurgen Stackmann.
Speaking at the Detroit motor show, he said a combination of cool, desirable cars and a viable infrastructure would soon propel the technology into the mainstream.
VW wants to sell one million electric vehicles a year by 2025 from a new family of cars, something Stackmann admitted seemed optimistic when looked at today.
"One million looked at today is an optimistic view, but the view I have is very different," he said. "The technology will get acceptance if the whole package is accepted.
"EVs will become fascinating when they become affordable, are cool, sexy cars, and you will want to be seen in one. They'll be cool cars that people will want to have and be seen in.
"When customers see the infrastructure, the interest is generated. It needs work but people want it to happen."
Stackmann said VW has on track to launch the first model in the new family in 2020, and he added he liked the ID name and hinted that it was under consideration for the production family, although this has yet to be decided. He said: "We're getting familiar with the name and it has scale and room for interpretation, the reaction is extremely positive and it's a crisp, cool name. We'll see. Conceptually it's a good idea."
More concepts are planned before 2020, Stackmann hinting at two or three and an SUV likely for the Shanghai motor show in April.
He said the ID Buzz (pictured above) at the Detroit show had more chance than any other Microbus concept of making production and he believed there was a place for a functional, spacious car with an emotional character rather than just a rational MPV.
VW electric vehicles would never be too radical in their execution, Stackmann added, saying that making them too different to today's cars would be "strange" for the customer and a "step too far". He said: "If they are too radical you lose momentum for the next step."
VW would remain a volume brand with its electric vehicles and would not become niche or in exclusive. "We have to offer a fun, usable and meaningful way of transportation. We can't be niche and have to be relevant and generate scale for the technology. It can't be for the few, we need scale."
The electric vehicles would be developed alongside VW's existing range of petrol and diesel vehicles and VW wants the one million sales to be additional ones, not taken from its existing sale of internal combustion engine models.
Stackmann said there would be a place for GTI models in the electric range but the "formula would change" and "not be the same as what took us here. Clearly GTI fits with EVs though."