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  Volkswagen unveiled a battery electric concept crossover at the Shanghai auto show
VW touts 'huge progress' in plan to roll out 4 affordable EVs
Bloomberg | 2017/4/21

SHANGHAI -- Volkswagen AG's namesake brand is gearing up to roll out four affordable electric vehicles in the coming years.

The German company has made "huge progress" in reducing production costs of its all-electric vehicles, Christian Senger, head of the VW marque's electric-car project, told reporters Tuesday in Shanghai.

Volkswagen unveiled its first battery-powered crossover at the auto show.

The models, to be sold under the I.D. sub-brand, will be partly developed in China and also include a midsize crossover, a hatchback and a sedan.

"Offering our electric cars for prices similar to combustion engine vehicles really is a game changer," Senger said. "We're using the need to step from combustion engine to electric cars to reinvent VW brand," said the executive, a former developer of BMW's battery-powered i3 model.

Electric models are a cornerstone of Volkswagen's effort to emerge from its diesel-cheating scandal and comply with tightening emission regulations across the globe.

China, the VW brand's largest market, has laid out ambitious targets to fight smog and is pondering quotas for carmakers to produce battery-powered vehicles.

The worldwide market for electric cars is forecast to grow 26 percent to 950,000 vehicles this year, with GM's Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla's Model 3 likely to be the top sellers, according to Frost & Sullivan estimates.

VW sells tiny numbers of electric versions of its Golf hatchback and Up! subcompact. The division reiterated its goal to sell 1 million fully electric cars annually worldwide by 2025.

The German automaker was slow to develop fully electric cars and has been prone to engineering excesses and bloated costs, which are still evident in its namesake brand's weak profit margins.

Herbert Diess, head of Volkswagen's biggest division, has pledged to double the marque's operating profit margin to 4 percent of revenue by 2020 and 6 percent by 2025.

The profit margin doesn't include the brand's two highly profitable Chinese joint ventures.

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