VW Targets BMW i3 Customers With New Electric City Car

Volkswagen AG will target potential buyers of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s battery-powered i3 city car with its first pure-electric model as German carmakers bet that emission-free vehicles are ready for the mainstream.

“We deliberately positioned the electric Up! against the i3,” Rudolf Krebs, VW’s head of electric-powertrain technology, said today at a press conference in Wolfsburg. “The time is ripe to introduce electric mobility on a large scale.”

VW, which has a goal of becoming the world’s biggest carmaker, will present the e-Up! and a battery-powered version of the Golf hatchback at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt next week. The e-Up! will go on sale in October for 26,900 euros ($35,500) in Germany, 23 percent less than the BMW i3. The e-Golf will hit showrooms next spring.

The new models enter a segment that has struggled to win customers because of the high cost of the vehicles and driving ranges that are about one quarter of conventional models. Carlos Ghosn -- the chief executive officer of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., the global leader in electric cars -- said in a Bloomberg interview that the two companies won’t reach a target to sell a total of 1.5 million electric cars by 2016 as planned.

Volkswagen can manufacture the vehicles in the same factories as cars with conventional engines, thereby saving costs and giving it an edge over competitors in the segment, Krebs said.

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