While confirming that there's a place for modern electric vehicles on the highways of tomorrow, Juergen Leohold, chief research officer at the Volkswagen Group recently told the DPA news agency in Wolfsburg not to expect too much market penetration anytime in the near future.
Leohold noted that ongoing unresolved issues with high battery production costs and low production-volume capabilities coupled with relatively limited operational range are destined to ensure that even advanced pure electrics won't become a major presence for at least a decade or more, and even then, hardly on the order of millions of vehicles that their strongest supporters currently envision. Leohold presently foresees a 20-25 year time horizon before electric vehicles manage to account for even a 10 percent share of the consumer field -- and that practical limitations will prevent battery power from ever replacing the internal combustion engine at all in many areas of the commercial transportation sector.
In late June, VW announced plans to introduce its first plug-in electric by 2010 and displayed a Golf fitted with its TwinDrive technology that uses both a gasoline engine and an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that gives the vehicle a 31-mile range when running on pure electric power. Interestingly enough, Germany's Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel used that same event to express his belief that up to a million hybrid electrics could be in use in his country by 2020 -- and suggested that number could rise to 10 million by 2030.