VW's namesake brand, its largest division by sales, will spend 6 billion euros ($7.2 billion) through 2022 on its electric auto program which will be based on the new MEB platform underpinning over 20 purely battery-powered models. That creates problems for Volkswagen as it relies on diesel cars to boost profit and lower carbon-dioxide emissions to reach tightening European environmental targets.
This week at the Frankfurt motor show we got a glimpse into this new key model, with the ID Crozz concept having just made its global premiere.
According to Mueller, the automotive industry is undergoing an irreversible process of transformation. And we'll lead that transformation.
Automakers will be eager to show off technologies that can help people get around without owning a auto. Diesel, meanwhile, was a convenient choice because it generated peppy acceleration while emitting about a fifth less Carbon dioxide than comparable gasoline engines. Automakers "won't be shouting about it, but diesels will be part of their lineup", says Ian Fletcher, principal analyst at IHS Market. Dieter Zetsche, his counterpart at Daimler AG, said he regrets that consumers have lost trust in diesel.
Carmakers are spending heavily to develop and improve electric cars to meet increasingly tough government regulations limiting air pollution. Mueller said the company would await firm commitments before reacting.
It will ultimately be "up to customers to decide how fast [electric cars] will gain widespread acceptance", while Volkswagen continues to offer "the entire powertrain spectrum - from conventional to fully-electric - to enable sustainable and affordable mass mobility". Tesla has started to roll out the $35,000 Model 3 to broaden its appeal and stem billions of dollars in losses.
His comments came after Europe's auto suppliers association warned a fixation on electric cars risked damaging its industry because of Asia's dominance in battery technology. By 2025, Volkswagen plans to offer 23 all-electric models.
Volkswagen (VW), for its part, said it was seeking new global supplier contracts to source €50 billion ($60 billion) of electric auto content including batteries, which are not yet manufactured competitively in Europe.
"Financially we're very robust", Mueller said in a Bloomberg TV interview. "We can not afford to make many mistakes". They are also working on developing autonomous vehicles that could drive themselves - under limited circumstances such as corporate campuses or limited access freeways at first, and possibly more widely later.