VW US Chief: US market not ready for electric vehicles image

The U.S. market isn’t ready to support plug-in electric vehicles, Volkswagen AG’s U.S. chief said Thursday, citing below-peak gasoline prices and the high cost of the vehicles themselves as reasons.
Stefan Jacoby, president of Volkswagen’s U.S. business, said he believes plug-ins won’t become mass-market cars in the U.S. until the price of gasoline reaches between $6 and $7 a gallon. Until that happens, Americans won’t be willing to pay premium prices that can reach thousands of dollars for plug-in vehicles, he said.

The retail gasoline price peaked around $4 in 2008 and has since tracked in the $3 range. “It will take time” before plug-ins take off in the U.S. market, Jacoby said during a discussion at Georgetown University in Washington.

General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. plan to roll out electric vehicles in the U.S. this year, and other companies will follow suit in subsequent years.
President Barack Obama has said he wants 1 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads by 2015.

  • Randarmax

    I think Stefan should rethink his projection given recent world events in Libya and the Middle East. Comments like these show how VW (at least people they hire for the NA market) so out of touch with the ground floor VW fan base- i.e. the people who are willing to spend 25K on a new electric VW. Many of my colleagues- young and old- are getting sick and tired of the ever-increasing gasoline price and no we've not forgotten about 2008. We're not going to wait for 6 or 7 dollar per gallon prices. In fact I just had a discussion with a business partner yesterday about the latency of car manufacturers to get these vehicles to show room floors. We resolved that perhaps the oil and gas lobbyists have already influenced the likes of Stefan Jacoby and others. I live in the highly conservative gas-happy state of Texas. There are people in my town building their own electric vehicles and converting their TDIs to run on vegetable oil. In fact there are so many people using vegetable oil from all the restaurants in their vehicles that the traditional companies that were making a business of simply hauling away the oil are trying to sue the individuals who are taking it for free for motor fuel. The market IS ready Stefan and VW would do well to strike while the iron is hot so the company can meet demand and not have a waiting list like there was for Toyota Prius buyers just a short while ago.

    Hey here's an idea, how about visiting some of your strongest sales markets in the U.S. and conduct focus groups, town hall meetings, etc., then you'll have a better idea of what the rest of the U.S. consumers already know. We are tired of waiting for stylish electric vehicles. Get your media relations staff going on this effort and publicize. Americans like to see effort and when it comes time to purchase decisions, they remember the companies that sought input first. Yes to it's a feel-good thing but it works in the long run.

    I would think media training would also be in order for Mr. Jacoby before and if he were to visit any of the research events or interact with the public/media again. Number one rule: "Don't insult your client by making assumptive remarks."