We’ve got another story about Volkswagen playing with numbers related to the performance of their vehicles, but this time it’s not about vehicle emissions. It’s actually about their solution to those vehicle emissions: electric cars.
Volkswagen has yet to reveal its next flagship electric vehicle, which it aims to compete with the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevy Bolt EV, but it is already comparing it to Tesla and using at best questionable methods to do so.
Electric vehicle buyers have a partly justified obsession with range. Most drivers don’t need half the range they think they do but automakers strive to make vehicles with longer range to alleviate customers’ anxieties. It means that having the longest range possible is a market advantage and therefore, it’s something electric automakers use as a comparison point.
The way they calculate and advertise their range varies on the standard applicable in each market. In Europe, automakers use the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which is much more forgiving than the EPA rating used in the US and doesn’t really reflect real-world range.
In a press conference at their Wolfsburg HQ last week, Volkswagen released a few details about the EV they have been teasing for a debut in Paris at the end of the month. The German automaker released this chart to explain the range of the car, which is expected to be a Golf-size car (via Andrew Brady on Twitter):
First off, it’s not clear why the Tesla Model X has been thrown in there as a comparison point since it’s a large luxury SUV – not really in the same segment as an electric Golf or the Model 3. It is also comparing the range of the Model X P100D, the performance version, something that is even more outside the parameters of what Volkswagen is aiming for. There is going to be much more range in the standard 100D version coming soon.
But more importantly, VW is mislabeling the range displayed for the Tesla Model 3. The footnote clearly shows that the range should be ‘NEFZ’, which is the German abbreviation for ‘NEDC’, but they used the only range Tesla disclosed for the Model 3 which is “a minimum of 215 EPA-estimated miles” (345 km) – not NEDC.
Tesla didn’t release estimated NEDC range for the Model 3 yet, but by extrapolating the figure, it should be closer to 250 miles (~403 km) or pretty much the same as the upcoming VW, unlike what this chart suggests.
Furthermore, Tesla CEO Elon Musk clearly stated when introducing the Model 3 that 215 miles will be the minimum and that other versions will be offered with higher capacity. So maybe VW should have included the little “scalable” add-on for the Model 3 too. We’ve heard that the Model 3 options will take it over 300 miles range which gets it pretty close to the 600km Volkswagen is hoping to achieve.
In other words, VW could have done a way better job at representing the electric range numbers in its presentation, which would have made it much more credible going into the Paris Motor Show where it is unveiling its new vehicle platform that some would see as the automaker’s attempt to redeem itself following the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.