The R performance vehicles, a sub-brand of the Volkswagen automaker, would be the first to go electric. The target for this transformation is 2030 in line with the company’s ‘Way to Zero’ pledge. This is a huge milestone considering that the parent brand earlier set a target of 2035 to go full-electric.
Volkswagen has hinted that it is “slowly converting its existing portfolio starting with the R models.” The company further said “We are currently evaluating different ideas and potentials but will only roll out R models that meet our requirements. Without a doubt, the future of R is electric.”
For the parent brand, the electric-only ID models may be the first to get new variants. Earlier in 2021, Thomas Ulbrich, the Research and Development Chief hinted at the coming of the ID4 R.
According to Volkswagen, any electric R model that will be produced will likely have the technology from the super-fast 671bhp IDR prototype, just like the ICE-powered predecessors. Thus, they will feature tweaked aerodynamics, powerful electric motors, and a more compact chassis setup.
“To become fully electric by 2030,” said Reinhold Ivenz, the head of the R sub-brand, “we are currently taking the required steps in line with our upcoming transformation. The successful Volkswagen R products are part of this thrilling transformation process and will stand the test of time for sustainable electric mobility.”
Consequently, all future R models will be built on the Volkswagen Group’s proposed all-electric Scalable Systems Platform (SSP). This will be the only EV chassis that will be used across all brands starting from 2026—but there will still be performance tweaks to different models.
Furthermore, Volkswagen said the R sub-brand EVs will wear a new look and prioritize “quick and convenient” charging. The company also announced “exclusive charging options” for R EV owners—although it is not clear what this means.
The R models that will likely be the first to get the electric upgrade include the Touareg R PHEV, Tiguan R, T-Roc R, and Golf R. The majority of them are pure ICE.
Although there are several R models in the planning stage, there is no clear timeline for their release. However, considering the amount of work that goes into planning and development, it is unlikely that the first R EV from Volkswagen will be commercially available before the second half of the decade.
Volkswagen is planning to streamline production
Since the decision by the European government to ban all ICE-powered cars by 2035, automakers have been strategizing on ways to beat the deadline—but Volkswagen is not in a hurry. The CEO of Volkswagen, Thomas Schäfer, hinted that the company will only start making EVs in Europe in 2033.
Schäfer also said that the VW brand will be streamlining the number of models it offers as well as effect an 8% rise in profit margin on all volume brands—Skoda, SEAT, Volkswagen, and commercial vehicles—by 2025.
Other key management personnel at the company have echoed a similar view of streamlining production to focus more on quality as the German automaker joins the battle to become the dominant EV manufacturer on the market.
The German automaker also made another key alteration to its production line. Instead of making every brand in a separate factory, Schäfer said the VW brand will change the strategy to “platform idea”.
In this concept, different models can be made using the same basic design. This concept in addition to the standardized battery chemistry will make it possible for the automaker to produce an entry-level EV priced under $25,000.
“Having 30 to 40 diverse battery packs and cell formats will be hard to manage,” said Schäfer. “However, having a standard across the brand makes it easier to scale. At the moment, we are the only company in this niche that can scale.”