New Volkswagen Phaeton to be full-electric, still years away

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The next-generation Volkswagen Phaeton – which may be previewed by the C Coupe GTE concept shown here – will be an all-electric vehicle that will set the tone for the future of vehicles from the German brand. Speaking to the media at today’s Tokyo motor show, Volkswagen CEO of passenger cars, Herbert Diess, confirmed the next Phaeton will be available as an electric vehicle only, with the car’s launch pushed back even further amid the decision to go EV only. “[New] Phaeton will be a completely re-engineered car, it will be fully electric,” Diess said. “It won’t be comparable to other company products like the Audi full electric car or the Porsche [Mission E]… it will use an all-new platform.” The Volkswagen Phaeton was the champion of former Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech, who resigned earlier this year over a power struggle to remove the now ousted CEO Martin Winterkorn. The current Phaeton, which first went on sale in 2002 (not available in Australia) and face-lifted most recently in 2010, was originally scheduled to be replaced before the end of 2015. But, considering the ‘dieselgate’ saga and the company’s new-found focus on electric cars, it’s likely to be pushed back even further than previously expected. Diess admitted that work on an all-electric Phaeton will likely add a few years to its release date, and that full scale production of electric vehicles across the Volkswagen range are not likely until 2020. “It will take some time, but it will arrive in time for the take-off of electric vehicles, which we don’t expect before the end of the decade.” “It’s several times the price” Diess said in response to why electric cars haven’t already taken off. “The battery price is coming down, tech is improving fast so in a few years time we really expect it to take off.” The company’s new MEB platform, which will underpin the new Tiguan GTE and other future vehicles, has also been designed with full electrification in mind. “MEB is an all new platform, it will be provide electric capabilities so it will have flat battery packs between the four wheels, typical electric architecture.” Typical, we suspect he means, in the sense that Tesla and other manufacturers leading the electric charge have already set the benchmark for what makes an electric car work.