BERLIN -- Germany's auto industry expects car buyers will embrace electric vehicles much sooner than it first believed as charging infrastructure improves and costs come down, making the technology more accessible to a broader audience.
"Today we are convinced that the development will proceed considerably faster and forecast that roughly 15 percent to 25 percent of all new cars registered in 2025 will be electric," VDA industry association President Matthias Wissmann told reporters here last week. "Every fourth or fifth new car sold will then have an electric drive."
The German car industry is investing 40 billion euros in alternative drivetrains including both research and development expenditure as well as assets such as equipment and tools for production. Late last month groups BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group were among automakers that signed a declaration of intent to start next year with the construction of a quick charging network for electric cars based on the CCS standard.
As a result, the VDA expects that the country's car manufacturers will more than triple the number of electric vehicle models to nearly 100 by 2020 from 30 currently as battery costs decline and electric ranges increase toward 500 km, edging closer to the distances gasoline and diesel cars can travel on a single tank.
Wissmann cautioned that automakers such as VW, Daimler and BMW couldn't make the switch overnight by simply doing away with combustion engines, since they employ hundreds of thousands of workers around the world – many of which build diesel and gasoline engines.
"This industry is not start-up company that can constantly procure fresh funding despite persistent losses," he said, in a remark directed at electric car pioneer Tesla Motors. "An electric car whose battery is charged with electricity generated from coal is worse for the climate than a modern diesel," Wissman said.
Tesla has catered to a relatively exclusive target market of affluent customers with cars such as its the Model S, whose cumulative sales had reached 107,000 units by the end of 2015. That means it sold that year just over a fifth of the volumes of Porsche and less than 3 percent of BMW's volumes.