Autonomous cars: Will they ever happen? - Full cast special: CarsGuide Podcast #200
Episode 200 - Autonomous cars: Will they ever happen? - Full cast special
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Volkswagen has been one of the most vocal advocates for electric vehicle (EV) incentives, but the German brand may miss out on some of the biggest offered in Australia.
The New South Wales government recently announced widely praised incentives to accelerate the uptake of EVs, including a $3000 rebate on models costing less than $68,000 and no stamp duty for those under $78,000.
However, the rebate only applies to the first 25,000 EVs sold in the state, starting later this year, and with the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia e-Niro, MG ZS EV as well as the upcoming Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 likely to all meet the criteria, it’s possible that Volkswagen may not get its own EVs to market in time to take advantage.
Volkswagen has pushed back the introduction of its ID.3 and ID.4 until 2023 at the earliest, which puts the German giant in danger of missing the purchasing rebate, although buyers will still be able to save stamp duty and use transit lanes.
Asked if the company was concerned about possibly missing these financial incentives for its customers, Volkswagen Australia EV spokesperson Kurt McGuiness was philosophical and insisted the company wants its EVs to sell on merit.
“We would always like to be moving with these things as they happen, but the reality is we’re a big company based in Europe, and the European market, at the moment, has the environment to take these products on mass,” he said.
“From an incentives point of view, our perspective has always been that if markets have to make cars cheaper, that’s an engineering challenge.
“From our perspective, we believe we’re the best in the world at building cars that are obtainable, and interesting, and exciting and laden with all the latest tech, but built to a price that’s approachable.
“So, whether we get incentives or not, that’s not really our consideration. We should be able to build these cars to meet a market demand.”
A major factor in Volkswagen’s public criticism of state and federal government inaction on EV uptake is it has hampered talks with its European head office to get access to the latest models.
The NSW government’s decision to introduce its incentives program, which has been hailed by some in the industry as world-class, has helped move the needle when it comes to negotiations between VW Australia and HQ.
“Yes, it does [move the needle],” Mr McGuiness said. “We’ve actually gone to the extent of actually talking to various departments in terms of what that means. The takeaway message that our colleagues in Germany have got is this is progress. It’s also, in a way, a promise. This has all come from a basis of nothing.”
But that doesn’t mean the introduction of the ID.3 and ID.4 will necessarily be accelerated. In fact, he revealed it’s possible that the new Cupra performance brand could beat Volkswagen to market with an EV.
Cupra recently revealed its own version of the ID.3, an electric hatchback known as the Born, and it is very much on the agenda for the local arm of the Spanish brand.
“There’s absolutely a desire to introduce Born, that’s absolutely a question of ‘when’ not ‘if,’” said Mr McGuiness.
Asked if the Born could beat ID.3 to Australian roads, Mr McGuiness was uncertain.
“I can’t confirm. I genuinely can’t confirm because we don’t know,” he said. “There’s absolutely a desire from the get-go that Cupra has electrification as part of its brand DNA. Having that car as a first is definitely a potential.”