VW Is Happy to Let Tesla, Daimler Take the Lead on Self-Driving Trucks

VW is a "second mover" in electric commercial vehicles, an executive said.

Volkswagen

Despite ambitious plans for electric cars, Volkswagen is taking a conservative approach to electric commercial vehicles, one executive has gone on record saying. While companies like Daimler and Tesla are launching electric commercial trucks, Volkswagen is a "second mover" in this segment, said VW commercial-vehicle boss Andreas Renschler in an interview with German newspaper Tagesspiegel (via Reuters).

"Tesla has some important and good impulses in the industry," Renschler said. But he also said Volkswagen "would rather check a couple of times more whether the standards are right."

Renschler said that VW "had emissions-free alternatives to to conventional trucks and buses on offer," according to Reuters. At the 2016 IAA Commercial Vehicles show, Volkswagen unveiled an electric version of its Crafter commercial van and discussed plans for sales in Europe. 

However, other German manufacturers are taking a more aggressive approach to electric commercial vehicles than VW. Daimler recently launched its Fuso eCanter electric truck, and plans to build electric versions of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Deutsche Post DHL, the German postal service, is already building its own electric vans and partnering with Ford to build even more.

But most of the attention these days is being drawn by Tesla and its upcoming electric semi-truck. Set to be unveiled next month, the Tesla semi could be the first all-electric vehicle of its kind to enter mass production. Other companies are working on competitors, with Cummins recently unveiling its own prototype electric truck, and Daimler indicating it will compete with Tesla on some level.

In the meantime, Volkswagen will concentrate on electric passenger cars. At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, it announced plans to electrify every model across its assortment of brands by 2030. While many of those models will get hybrid powertrains, VW does plan to launch 50 new all-electric models by 2025.