VW Increases Electric Vehicle Target by 50%

Volkswagen AG aims to produce almost 50 percent more electric cars than it targeted previously, boosting a bet that has already strained profit margins.

The world’s largest automaker now plans to build 22 million battery-powered vehicles over the next 10 years, compared with an earlier goal of 15 million. Return on sales fell last year at the company’s three core brands VW, Porsche and Audi as trade wars, a Chinese slowdown and new emissions testing in Europe added to costs.

Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess is pushing forward with the industry’s most ambitious electrification plan, using VW’s heft to overtake e-car pioneer Tesla Inc. and as regulators pick up the pace on emissions regulation. The risk is that buyers stay on the fence, delaying the payoff years down the road. By comparison, General Motors Co. expects to sell 1 million electric cars annually by 2026. The German carmaker is also in advanced talks with Ford Motor Co. to work together on autonomous driving and other areas.

“The supertanker is picking up speed,” Diess said Tuesday in speech notes during the company’s full-year earnings. “We are aligning Volkswagen with e-mobility like no other company in our industry.”

Diess, like other automaker CEOs, is under pressure to find savings while he funnels more cash toward the company’s biggest transformation in decades. VW is spending 44 billion euros ($49 billion) through 2023 on electric and connected cars. Keeping profitability level this year from 2018 will be an achievement given the U.S.-China trade spat and falling demand in China, VW’s biggest market, Diess said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Making Progress

Volkswagen fell 1.5 percent to 144.40 euros at 12:20 p.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has declined 6.8 percent in the past year, compared with a 21 percent drop in the Stoxx Europe 600 Automobiles & Parts Index.

VW is also making progress on a plan for a partial share sale in trucks unit Traton SE. A date will be agreed “in the foreseeable future” with VW weighing up market conditions “in the next days,” Diess said in speech notes. The division is valued at as much as 30 billion euros.

To help gain scale and save costs, VW is opening up its dedicated electric-car platform to others. The company is also in talks to deepen a cooperation with Ford beyond working together on vans, adding Tuesday that discussions about further possible collaborations in e-mobility and autonomous driving are at an advanced stage. VW may take a stake in the self-driving car project with Ford, Diess said. It’s also considering acquisitions of software suppliers.

Separately, the company has started a review of its joint venture in China that’ll conclude early next year. As part of the project, VW will weigh to the potential to change the shareholding structure, Diess said.

VW last month already presented preliminary earnings that met expectations.

Operating return on sales in % 2018 2017
VW brand 3.8 4.2
Audi 7.9 8.5
Porsche 17.4 18.5

For the Audi E-Tron and the Porsche Taycan, VW’s first two battery cars that are part of a 70-model onslaught until 2028, VW said it has received 20,000 reservations each -- with Porsche boosting planned production because of high demand.

Subscribe to the RSD email list and get the latest resource stock activity directly to your inbox, for free.

Part of the Stock Digest family of websites

Small Cap Stock Digest

MARKET SUMMARY

INDICES

Name Last Change
DOW 25776.60 0.39%
S&P 500 2856.27 0.28%
NASDAQ 7750.84 0.45%
TSX 16327.35 0.61%
TSX-V 610.56 0.00%

Resource Commodities

Name Last Change
Gold 1274.28 0.02%
Silver 14.48 0.35%
Copper 2.68 2.678
Platinum 901.00 0.67%
Oil 61.42 2.78%
Natural Gas 2.54 2.75%
Uranium 24.60 0.00%
Zinc 1.20 0

@RSDigest ON TWITTER