October 14, 2019 / 7:03 AM / a month ago

Volkswagen CEO says electric car shift won't hurt margins: paper

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/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

MILAN (Reuters) - Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) does not expect the shift in production toward electric cars aimed at averting billions of euros in European pollution fines to hurt its profit margins, Chief Executive Herbert Diess said in a newspaper report on Monday.

“We do not expect a deterioration in margins. Our advantage is that all our brands have the same platform for electric products and the same batteries that we buy in China,” Diess said in an interview with daily la Repubblica’s Monday supplement A&F.

Diess said the German car maker expected to sell nearly 20,000 Audi e-Tron in 2019, adding the first year’s production of the electric Porsche Taycan was already sold out.

Orders for the VW ID.3, the group’s recently unveiled compact electric model, are already covering the production planned until mid-2020, Diess said.

Last month at Frankfurt auto show Germany’s premium automakers marketed electric cars as their flagship models to lure customers away from gas-guzzling SUVs.

Diess said he was concerned by the trade war between the United States and China, which was already causing a fall in Volkswagen’s Chinese sales even if its market share in the country had been growing in the past six months, reaching 19%.

In any case, Volkswagen does not plan to cut its exposure to the Chinese market, Diess said.

Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Louise Heavens

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