Volkswagen CEO welcomes potential entry of Apple into electric vehicle market

The German automaker plans to rollout 22 million EVs in 10 years and almost 70 new electric models by 2028

FILE PHOTO: Herbert Diess, CEO of German carmaker Volkswagen AG, poses in an ID.3 pre-production prototype during the presentation of Volkswagen's new electric car on the eve of the International Frankfurt Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt, Germany September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo/File Photo
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Volkswagen’s chief executive Herbert Diess welcomed media reports that Apple is considering the launch of an electric car by 2024.

Mr Diess said Apple's entry will “accelerate” the growth of the electric vehicle industry.

"We look forward to new competitors who will certainly accelerate the change in our industry … and bring new skills," Mr Diess said in a post on LinkedIn.

“The unbelievable rating and thus the practically unlimited access to resources instill a lot of respect in us [the industry],” he added.

Mr Diess's comments followed reports on Tuesday that Apple aims to produce its first EV by 2024 after secretly starting its automated and electric vehicles development progamme dubbed Project Titan in 2014.

The company has yet to publicly discuss any of its self-driving goals, but nearly 5,000 engineers and scientists are reported to be working on the project as of 2018.

Germany's Volkswagen comprises nearly 12 automobile brands from seven European countries including Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Skoda and Bentley. It plans to rollout 22 million EVs in 10 years and almost 70 new electric models by 2028.

The company has committed to boost the proportion of hybrid and EVs in its European car sales to 60 per cent by 2030, up from an earlier 40 per cent target. Last month, it increased its planned investment in EV technologies to $86 billion over the next five years.

The EV share of global car sales is forecast to rise to 2.5 per cent by 2020, from 1 per cent in 2017, according to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which predicts that EVs will constitute 90 per cent of sales by 2050.

“The most valuable company in the world will be a mobility company … it could be Tesla, Apple or Volkswagen,” Mr Diess said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the focus on the future of cars. With Tesla joining the S&P 500 index this month, some industry analysts say EVs are set to dominate the global auto market. President-elect Joe Biden’s triumph in the US elections and China announcing plans to boost the sector bode well for the industry.

Other tech giants, such as Amazon and Alphabet, are also backing autonomous-electric initiatives but they are more focused on mass transport.

Alphabet’s Waymo is operating a commercial self-driving taxi service, whereas Amazon-backed Zoox is working to create an autonomous ride-hailing fleet.