Volkswagen taps Tesla co-founder for electric vehicle push

VW aims to be the biggest automaker in the world by 2018, and EVs are a major part of that plan.
Written by Dan Nosowitz, Contributing Editor

Volkswagen laid out its plan for electric vehicles as well as industry domination yesterday. The company hopes to sell 10 million cars per year, worldwide, by 2018, which would put them right at the top of the sales charts. So how are they going to do it?

VW has previously said they'll have a plug-in EV on the streets by 2013, likely either the Up! E-Motion city car (sort of like a Smart ForTwo) or an electric Golf. Of course, just like every other automaker, VW is struggling to keep costs reasonable, what with the high price of batteries that size.

Interestingly, VW has partnered up with a pioneer of electric vehicles to achieve their goals. The company is relying on its Electric Research Lab in Palo Alto, CA to improve battery tech. That lab is headed by none other than Martin Eberhard, the co-founder and first CEO of Tesla Motors. He's been working for VW for a year and a half now, pushing the automaker to use off-the-shelf lithium ion batteries.

The electric Golf, when it was unveiled earlier this year, packed a 115hp (peak) engine, capable of an 84mph top speed. Its 180 cell, 26.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack weighs in at nearly 800 pounds and according to VW is good for about 93 miles per charge.

One of the biggest shortfalls in electric vehicles these days is charge time. At best, cars have a "quick charge" capability that can charge the batteries up to 80% in about half an hour, but some EVs require overnight charging. VW is still mum on its own charge time, as well as the price of any future EVs.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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