German Carmakers Losing Speed in the EV Race

A man talking on the phone stands outside his Tesla Model S while it is plugged in at a charging station

This week, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz both had debacles related to electric vehicle development, costing the German car industry their chance to dethrone Tesla.

After software trouble, VW has pushed back its Trinity EV project by two years at least, raising doubts about the rollout it had boasted would be biggest in the industry worth 52 billion euro. In addition, Mercedes lowered the cost of the EQS EV by $33,000 in China after misjudging customer demand.

The recent developments in the automotive industry are a cause for concern. Carmakers have funneled tremendous amounts of money into transitioning away from combustion engines, but the timelines are ambitious and there is no guarantee of success. For German manufacturers, in particular, this transition could be disastrous; they have based their premium prices on cutting-edge technology and luxurious features, neither of which may be possible with electric vehicles.

Despite years of continuously losing to Tesla, and with the continuous threat of Chinese startups, German carmakers still want to come out on top of the EV race, but are trying a new strategy. They are no longer focusing on making small changes to their combustion-engine cars and instead are planning something different that will hopefully allow them to gain back the ground they have lost.

The three largest German brands, VW, Mercedes, and BMW, Mercedes, have spent not less than a hundred billion euros on the development and expansion of brand-new platform infrastructure, battery production, and software in order to release the newest, best EV yet. In fact, they plan to spend more, up to 1.1 trillion euro. They aim to make EVs capable of driving farther and longer than no other EVs have, as well as make the most out of newer, digital sources of revenue to win over their competition.

Troubles with Volkswagen’s Trinity

VW has made a big bet on its MEB platform, which stands for Modularer E-Antriebs Baukasten (or modular modular electric drive matrix). It’s a platform that the carmaker plants to use in all tits small- and medium-sized cars, but despite its already large budget, the carmaker may have invest more into the platform. VW will also share this platform with Mahindra, which plans to use it in 5 of their SUVs.

These events demonstrate the fact that VW Group is revisiting and adjusting the strategies let to them by Herbert Diess, former VW CEO, who was taken off and supplanted by Porsche boss Oliver Blume in September following several issues.

As VW pushes back the Trinity EV release date, these is a huge possibility that their plans of opening a 2 billion-euro factory in Germany will be delayed or even abandoned. Regardless of whether this does come to fruition, the delays are another sure sign that VW is way behind Tesla in terms of releases, mirroring their falling behind in terms of technological advancements, (specifically automated driving features).

VW’s answer to Tesla, the luxury Audi Artemis, has been pushed back three years. With the flagship Trinity’s delay, they risk putting themselves at a massive loss. The Trinity release date push-back is due to software-development unit Cariad’s struggles with disruptions and mismanagement.

Any delay in Volkswagen’s Trinity project could result in the company investing more money into its MEB platform, which is what its ID electric-vehicle series is based on. These cars have had multiple software issues, such as sudden braking from an incorrect traffic-detection system and car displays that freeze.

An EV car battery charger plugged in with a ring of lights around it

Consumer Problems with Specialized EV Platforms

One major problem with specialized EV platforms and advanced technology is that it discourages owners from repairing their own vehicles. Take Tesla, for example. It’s no secret that Tesla has had its share of troubles as a company. However, one issue that doesn’t often get talked about is the fact that Tesla tries to prohibit and discourage owner repairs. This can be a huge problem for consumers, as it means that they may not be able to get their Tesla fixed if something goes wrong. There have been several cases in which Tesla has refused to sell replacement parts to owners who have attempted to fix their cars on their own. This can be a huge problem for consumers, as it means that they may not be able to get their car fixed if something goes wrong. They have been improving, but they are still not where they should be.

Apart from that, many auto repair shops¬†cannot repair them until very recently; you will have to look for repair shops that partnered up with them (like GM’s repair shops that have partnered up with Tesla). This is much easier nowadays for some companies, like Tesla, but for overseas car brands that have not yet created the infrastructure or networks needed for their cars, this will be a huge drawback for consumers to consider.

Final Thoughts

It’s evident that VW is facing a lot of challenges as it tries to keep up with the competition. Tesla has been leading the way in terms of advancements in technology and releasing new models, while VW has been struggling to meet deadlines and overcome software issues. This could result in them investing more money into their MEB platform, which is what their ID electric-vehicle series is based on. These cars have had multiple software issues, such as sudden braking from an incorrect traffic-detection system and car displays that freeze. While this may be discouraging for some consumers, there are still many benefits to owning an EV over a traditional petrol or diesel car. EVs are becoming more affordable each year, they’re better for the environment, and they’re much easier to maintain than traditional cars. We hope that VW can overcome these challenges and continue to produce high-quality electric vehicles that benefit everyone involved.

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