The Volkswagen Group has made several ambitious claims about its effort to go electric since it was hit by the Dieselgate scandal.

Now they make arguably their most ambitious claim yet: that they’ll have electric vehicles as good as Tesla’s for half the price by 2020.

VW boss Herbert Diess made the comment on the ZDF program “Maybrit Illner” when talking about the automaker’s electrification effort (translated from German):

“Here we come very strong now. We have invested 30 billion in electromobility, we have already rededicated a plant in Zwickau, and we are building an electric vehicle plant in Shanghai. We will come in 2020 with vehicles that can do anything like Tesla and are cheaper by half.”

It’s rare in the auto industry that automakers will acknowledge other automakers by name publicly like that, but Volkswagen has been clearly going after Tesla in its electrification effort.

Last year, Diess said that ‘ he sees Tesla as their main competitor;’.

When talking about an EV that “can do anything like Tesla” and “is half the price”, Diess is presumably referencing the I.D. Concept, which is expected to be called ‘Neo’ (pictured above), since it’s the first new EV they plan to release in 2020.

Before even unveiling the concept in 2016, VW announced that it would beat the Model 3 and Model X in electric range by misrepresenting the NEDC-rated range of the Model 3. In a presentation, it pinned the two vehicles against each other even though they are both unreleased yet and they are planned to be released years apart. vw-electric-car-presentation

VW mislabeled 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 hadn’t released estimated NEDC range for the Model 3 at the time, 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.

As for the price, VW hasn’t confirmed it yet, but they have been talking about 25,000 euros (~$28,000), which is less expensive than the Model 3, but not half the price.

The vehicle is expected to hit Europe and China in 2020 and come to North America later.

Electrek’s Take

VW is the champion of making EV claims, but it hasn’t much to show for those claims at this point.

To be clear, I think it would be great for VW to launch the Neo at ~25,000 euros (~$28,000) with similar range and capabilities as the Model 3.

I think it can be a success at that price, but I think they are doing themselves a disservice by comparing it to a Model 3.

They don’t compete in the segment and it’s not even the same form-factor. It’s no ‘Tesla Killer’.

What it can do though is open the market for more affordable long-range EVs, which is something that is much-needed. They should focus on that instead of comparing a hatchback to a premium midsize sedan just because they are both electric.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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