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Volkswagen will debut an electric concept car at CES next month

Volkswagen will debut an electric concept car at CES next month

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Volkswagen would probably like to generate some buzz around... well, something that doesn't involve diesel or cheating or scandals or emissions tests right now. It might get that next month: the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CES's parent organization, just announced that Volkswagen Passenger Cars CEO Herbert Diess will be taking the CES stage the evening of January 5th to show off "an all-electric concept car while focusing his remarks on electric mobility driving the automotive market." In other words, it's safe to say that diesel won't be a topic of conversation.

VW, like most big automakers at this point, has dipped its toe in the production EV waters — it currently sells its e-Golf in some markets, including the US — but the next holy grail is gasoline-like range at a gasoline-like price. GM's Chevrolet Bolt, which will also be shown at CES 2016 for the first time in production trim, promises at least 200 miles between charges; Tesla's Model 3 will offer similar range without breaking the bank as a Model S does.

It'll have to turn into something real very, very quickly

CTA boss Gary Shapiro didn't avoid the diesel issue altogether, though. "When we agreed to a Volkswagen keynote earlier this year we, along with the world, did not know much about emissions testing, but after talking with Dr. Diess I felt the CES audience would be interested in his vision and curious about his plans for a new type of sustainable car. Now, VW has an opportunity at CES to show the world its designs for the future and how the company views electric mobility and sustainability," his press release quote reads.

But considering the "concept" label — and the fact that other automakers will be showing plenty of production EVs in 2016 — VW won't buy itself much leeway with consumers or the media unless it can commit to turning the concept into a real-world car quickly. The Porsche Mission E, which debuted as a concept in September, won't be ready until the end of the decade; by then, Tesla could very well have a second-generation Model S on the road.