Volkswagen will have 20 electric or plug-in hybrid models by 2020

Speaking at the Frankfurt auto show, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn told reporters his company will have 20 electric or plug-in hybrid models in showrooms by 2020. Not only that, he says his company will have the most connected cars on the road of any manufacturer.

“No commitment to electro-mobility can be any clearer than that,” Winterkorn said in a press release. “Our Group already has the largest connected vehicle fleet on the road. By 2020 we will have transformed all of our new cars into smartphones on wheels.” Winterkorn went on to say that the auto industry has turned a corner. “Technological leadership is no longer solely defined in terms of horsepower and torque,” he said. “We are taking the precision, enduring value and quality of our cars into the new, digital world.”

Porsche’s new Mission E electric sports car made a big splash in Frankfurt, followed closely by the Audi e-tron quattro concept. The VW Group also is showcasing its Tiguan GTE sport utility vehicle. The chairman indicated in his remarks that the next VW Phaeton and Audi A8 would also offer plug-in versions in the near future. “We are in the process of reinventing Europe’s largest automaker, laying the technological, economic and structural foundations,” he said.

“At a time of major social and technological upheaval, people expect new answers, new solutions and new directions from us. The Porsche Mission E and the Audi e-tron quattro concept are nothing less than a quantum leap for our industry,” Winterkorn says. Volkswagen is also taking the lead in devising advanced ways to recharge the electric cars of the future. The Porsche Mission E will be the first car in the world to support 800 volt charging, using a system it calls “Turbo Charging,” which can recharge the battery of an electric car to 80% capacity in about 15 minutes. The same system will be known as “V-Charge” on Volkswagen models.

In his remarks, Winterkorn issued a call to government leaders and policy makers to support the creation of charging networks for electric cars. “We have the right cars. Now what is needed is the right framework for this key technology to really catch on.” The European Union and the US are both pressing car makers to make more efficient automobiles with fewer carbon emissions, but the political will has been lacking to make sure the charging infrastructure is in place to support those mandates.