Starting from 2035, Volkswagen plans to stop selling cars with internal combustion engines, gasoline or diesel. From then on it will only sell battery electric cars.
Somewhat later, the German brand plans to do the same in the United States and China. It was the head of sales and marketing at Volkswagen, Klaus Zellmer, who explained it in an interview with the Muenchner Merkur.
“In Europe, we will phase out internal combustion vehicles between 2033 and 2035, and in the United States and China somewhat later. In South America and Africa, it will take much more time ”.
Zellmer’s statements represent a very dark future for gasoline and diesel cars. In that sense it goes even further than Audi. The Ingolstadt firm did not put an expiration date on those engines, it limited itself to announcing that by 2026 all its new models would be electric. Basically, the gasoline and diesel Audi for sale in 2026 will remain in the brand’s catalog as long as there is demand.
There is talk of a 60% reduction in average CO2 emissions by 2030 and even zero emissions by 2030. To meet zero emissions, the fastest solution is the electric car.
At Volkswagen they estimate that the share of battery electric cars in the brand’s total sales will reach 70% by 2030. However, Zellmer explains in the same interview that “you have to leave a certain margin of maneuver with regard to the combustion engines and battery electric vehicles. In the end, the freedom of choice always rests with the customer ”.
For Zellmer, there will be markets where, in a first phase, only battery electric vehicles will be allowed. But there will also be markets where “battery electric cars would not make much sense from an ecological point of view, because in the future electricity will also be generated mainly from coal,” Zellmer explained.
Volkswagen and the electric car: a confusing message
On the one hand, at Volkswagen they assure us that they want to sell only electric cars, but at the same time they recognize that sometimes it is not the most ecological car and that we must leave the freedom of choice to the end customer, according to Zellmer. In the end, the message that is sent is confusing and reflects very well the uncertainty with which brands navigate.
On the one hand, it is feared that the EU will end up imposing the electric car, be it battery or fuel cell (hydrogen), and on the other hand it is feared that the market will not agree with this premise. Electric car sales continue to grow in Europe. But they are still far from reaching a really significant volume in terms of volume for manufacturers.
For example, in the first quarter of 2021, 202,410 electric cars were sold on the European continent. But only 11,983 Volkswagen ID.3 were registered, a far cry from what Tesla sold (30,500 units) and somewhat behind the Renault Zoe (12,200 units) and just ahead of the Hyundai Kona Electric.
In the same quarter, 458,685 compacts with internal combustion engines were sold (including plug-in hybrid versions). In the case of Volkswagen, there were more than 58,000 units of the Golf 8. And we speak only of compact, we do not mention the million SUV, approximately, that were sold in the first quarter of 2021.
The trend is upward, certainly, but it is not as fast as previously thought. In addition, we must add Europe’s commitment to hydrogen . And if hydrogen ends up gaining a niche in road transport, accompanied by the necessary development of refueling infrastructures, fuel cell electric cars could have more of a future than we think.
At the same time, Volkswagen group brands, such as Audi and Porsche, are developing synthetic fuels (also called e-fuels ), capturing the existing CO2, to release it again in combustion in a gasoline or diesel engine. And thus achieving the much desired CO2 neutrality.
In the end, Zellmer’s statements, which leave the door open to the combustion engine, are a reflection of the thick fog in which manufacturers move regarding the mobility of the future. That is why many manufacturers do not close to any eventuality. Volkswagen, on the other hand, bet everything on battery power, with the immense investment that this implies.
They have only left the door open to the internal combustion engine and the e-fuels via other brands of the group, such as hiding, and closing the door to hydrogen. And in the end, at Volkswagen they need us as motorists to adopt the electric car as soon as possible and therefore to buy Volkswagen ID.3 and Volkswagen ID.4 and the IDs that are to come. Only in this way are Zellmer’s statements understood.