German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, while adamant about its goal to have one million electric cars in the country by 2020, is not backing in any way the crisis-laden Volkswagen AG.
The latter has turned its attention fully towards cleaner powertrains such as plug-in hybrids and full electric cars as the group faces the biggest business crisis in its 78-year history since it admitted to rigging diesel emissions tests in the US and deploying up to 11 million autos around the world with the illegal software on board. In a drive to shake off the effects of the scandal, executives at the headquarters in Wolfsburg have decided to strategize a focus shift towards plug-in hybrids and electric cars. But they will be left alone to reach their green goals as Merkel’s government will not lend the support offered for instance by the French government to its automakers going green. And the party has little incentive to assist Europe’s largest automaker: on one side there’s the budget strain caused by the refugee crisis and on the other side the decision by the automaker to lower investment as it needs to bear the brunt of recall, penalty and lawsuit costs.
“We’re against sales incentives in principle,” comments Michael Fuchs, a senior lawmaker from the business caucus of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party. “No automaker gets sales help from the German government. So VW has to make it on its own, too.” On Wednesday, VW announced it had lost 3.48 billion euros ($3.85 billion) during the third quarter – the first negative performance in more than a decade and a half.