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The Good and Bad News That Volkswagen is Investing $25 Billion on Electric Vehicles


By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

Marc J. Rauch
Yesterday I received a press release from Thomas Publishing Company about a story written by David Mantey, one of THOMAS' contributing editors. The story is titled, "VW Bets $25B on Electric Vehicles." The story is available via the link just below. Visitors to the site will also see a video with David presenting the story directly to camera.

David's story describes Volkswagen's decision to invest a fairly large amount of money on manufacturing electric versions of their great vehicles (I love driving VW and Audi vehicles, they may in general be the best driving cars on the road - but this is not germane to this article). David's story reads, in part:

"It looks like those pesky fines and settlements from their diesel emissions scandal didn’t hit Volkswagen too hard after all. The company recently announced the signing of $25 billion in supplier contracts that will allow the company to ramp up battery production for electric vehicles.

"VW had previously announced plans to have as many as 16 EV plants up and running by 2022 as part of their Roadmap E strategy. This number compares to the three currently in place. The company is looking to ramp electric vehicle production up to three million vehicles annually by 2025, with no fewer than 80 EV models throughout a collection of brands that includes Audi and Porsche.

"It’s estimated that 50 of these vehicles will be powered by batteries and 30 will be plug-in hybrids. By 2030, VW wants to offer an electric version of all 300 of their vehicle models. Many insiders feel this push is brought about by a need to aggressively move past the diesel-gate scandal.

"Others state that this level of investment is VW’s way of throwing down the gauntlet as it takes aim at Tesla, which reportedly has similar deals worth about $15 billion in place through 2022, primarily for lithium-ion cells from Panasonic."

(I apologize if David or THOMAS feel I have reprinted too much of their article, and will happily reduce the quotation to a much briefer version if requested. I just want the flavor of David's story to really come through. Please visit the link to read and/or watch the video in its entirety).

I have no problem with David's story, I think it's a good story for him, and a good story for VW. This is the "GOOD" news about VW's decision to pursue electric cars so strongly.

The BAD news is the information that David shares with readers about electric vehicles in the last paragraph of the story. It refers to the rare element cobalt, which is needed for the vehicle batteries. The paragraph reads, in part:

"Cobalt is an element that is mined as a by-product of nickel and the Democratic Republic of the the most unstable countries in the world."

Being an unstable country isn't the bad part, the bad part is how and by whom the cobalt is mined. It is a disgusting, filthy business that is as close to ancient slave mining as anything could possibly be. The promise of electric vehicles is that it's supposed to fix most or all of the evils of internal combustion engine powered cars and trucks. But the problems with cobalt mining makes electric vehicles as bad as the worst problems caused by lead-gasoline spewing cars and trucks. It is an unconscionable problem. This situation should not exist in any country of the world. And while it is not VW's problem alone, given VW's recent diesel emissions scandal, not to mention the elephant in the room issue of certain in-humane events of the last century, Volkswagen should never ever, ever, ever, be associated with anything like this.

The Auto Channel has reported on the revelations made by other media outlets of the horrendous conditions related to cobalt mining. Unless the reports are completely and totally inaccurate, any consideration of electric vehicles that require the use of cobalt in their batteries should be immediately curtailed until a clean, heathy solution is put in place.

SEE: EV's Dirty Secret: The Daily Mail Exposes Cobalt Mining - The Human Tragedy Behind Lithium Battery Production