The Volkswagen Group is in for a massive shakeup over the next decade as it transitions toward a fully electrified lineup and develops autonomous driving technology. All of this will come at significant cost which, together with the almost $30 billion the automaker's diesel scandal has cost, means the VW Group must ensure future product decisions are backed by expectations of adequate returns, i.e. no more vanity projects.
In an effort to drive profitability, the VW Group has already committed to dropping the number of variants it offers. The automaker also plans to reduce its number of available powertrains and increase sharing of components, including whole vehicle platforms, across its brands. Unfortunately, this drive for profitability has come at the cost of a next-generation electric sports car platform that Porsche was to develop, Automobile reported on Monday.
First detailed in early 2018, the new platform, code-named SPE, an acronym for Sports Platform Electric, was expected to spawn electric sports cars for Audi, Porsche and possibly Lamborghini around the middle of the next decade.
VW MEB platform
Given the low volume of sports cars and the speed at which EV technology is advancing, especially with more stable, higher density solid-state batteries on the horizon, it makes sense that the VW Group would want to hold off the SPE's development. This way the automaker will have resources to focus on higher volume models based on existing electric platforms like the C-BEV (Audi e-tron) and J1 (Porsche Taycan) platforms, as well as the highly modular MEB and PPE platforms designed for mainstream and premium EVs, respectively.
The good news is that Porsche may still go ahead with an electric 718 sports car rumored to debut around 2022. This model would use the current 718's platform with the battery squeezed in where the gasoline engine and fuel tank normally sit, according to Automobile.
Perhaps a bigger shock (pun intended) is that the VW Group may offload its low-volume, ultra-luxury brands such as Bentley, Bugatti and even Lamborghini, as well as the Ducati motorcycle brand and Italdesign design house and coachbuilder. Automobile reported that the sale of Ducati and Italdesign is already locked in and that Bentley may also go, to be replaced by a dedicated EV brand with affordable offerings aimed at young urban dwellers. Stay tuned.
Bentley Continental GT V8