Wolfsburg — If Volkswagen (VW) realises its ambition of becoming the global leader in electric cars, it will be thanks to a radical and risky bet born out of the biggest calamity in its history. The German giant has staked its future, to the tune of €80bn ($91bn), on being able to profitably mass-produce electric vehicles — a feat no car maker has come close to achieving. So far, mainstream car makers’ electric plans have had one main goal: to protect profits gleaned from high-margin conventional cars by adding enough zero-emission vehicles to their fleet to meet clean-air rules. Customers have, meanwhile, largely shunned electric vehicles because they are too expensive, can be inconvenient to charge and lack range. The biggest strategy shift in VS’s 80 years has its roots in a weekend crisis meeting at the Rothehof guesthouse in Wolfsburg on October 10 2015, senior executives told Reuters. At the meeting hosted by then VW brand chief Herbert Diess, nine top managers gathered on a c...

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