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Volkswagen: The biggest electric car company by 2018?

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Christian Charisius/Reuters/File

(Read caption) The logo of German Volkswagen AG is shown atop a factory in the northern German city of Hanover. Could Volkswagen be the biggest electric car company by 2018?

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Say what you will about Volkswagen, but the company isn't afraid of setting big, bold goals for itself.

Several years ago, VW announced its intention to become the world's largest automaker by 2018. And now, according to Detroit News, it's aiming to be the world's biggest maker of electric cars by 2018, too.

It won't be easy. Volkswagen lags behind many other major automakers when it comes to electric cars. (Remember: the Nissan Leaf arrived in the U.S. nearly three years ago.) Not only that, but the highest-profile electric prototype in the company's arsenal is the Audi e-tron -- which looked great in Iron Man 3, but last we heard, Audi had pulled the plug on the entire e-tron program

What's the problem? Unlike many other automakers, VW pinned its hopes for fuel efficiencyon diesel cars. That perspective might be blamed on geography: Volkswagen is a European automaker, and diesels are big on the Continent. 

Unfortunately, while VW was developing efficient diesel engines, the rest of the world realized three things:


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