Electric vehicles are a must have segment for automakers looking to compete in the long term, although traditional engine types will continue to be important, Jonathan Browning, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, told CNBC on Monday,
Browning said that the German automaker's strategy is to roll out a 10-year growth plan, which includes a ramp-up in electric vehicle production. He said on "Squawk on the Street" that the first of an "array" of electric vehicles to be released by Volkswagen over the next few years is the e-Golf, which will be available to consumers in early 2015.
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Consumer acceptance of electric cars is a combination of pricing, usage and confidence that people have in the vehicles, he said. "Electrification won't be the only solution," he said, as traditional combustion engines, hybrids and diesel technologies remain important for consumers. "Electric vehicles will be part of the landscape, but certainly not the only part," he said.
Browning pointed out that many precursors of the future technologies people expect are already present in cars, such as adaptive cruise control and radar systems. However, he expects that self-driving or autopilot cars will only serve a minority of consumers and the question is how these technologies can be employed in the market to improve safety, fuel efficiency and driving behaviors.
Volkswagen has been in talks with the United Auto Workers (UAW) regarding union membership for employees at the company's Tennessee manufacturing plant. "It is important to look at what's going on in Tennessee as a part of the global conversation," he said.
"What we're trying to do in Tennessee is to allow our employees to have a voice in the business," he added. "Our employees will decide how they want to have representation. ... We're simply looking for the right structure to put that in place in the U.S. context"