End of the ICE Age? VW Halts Development of New Gas and Diesel Engines

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Photo: Volkswagen
Some people still believe the whole electric vehicles thing is nothing but a bubble waiting to burst. Things will get back to normal when it does, and perhaps a few years later, we'll forget they ever existed.
Well, these people should get in touch with Volkswagen and let them know because it sounds as though the Germans are about to make a huge mistake. Talking to German website, Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter (not to be confused with Volkswagen Group CEO, Herbert Diess) said the carmaker doesn't plan to introduce any new combustion engines. Like, ever.

At the moment, I do not expect a completely new engine family to be launched,” he told the website. Internal combustion engine enthusiasts have that "at the moment" to hang on to but considering everything else Volkswagen is doing at the moment (see the recent announcements on "Power Day"), it sure sounds like a complete phase-out isn't entirely off the cards.

The announcement shouldn't really come as a shock if you remember sister-brand Audi said it is doing the same thing not that long ago. Should we expect SEAT and Skoda to follow, then? Well, since both the Spanish and the Czech brands use Volkswagen engines, it probably goes without saying.

So, where does this leave Volkswagen's current ICE lineup? “We need them for a certain amount of time, and that’s when they need to be as efficient as possible,” Brandstätter said, hinting the obvious thing, which is that VW still relies on conventional cars for income at the moment.

However, he also talked about “financing the whole transformation,” suggesting that, at this time, ICE-powered cars are just a means to an end, and that is the switch to electric power. The CEO is cunning enough to leave a door open in case he needs to backtrack on his statement, but assuming nothing radical happens, it sounds as though Volkswagen's path for the upcoming years is pretty clear.

Current engines will continue to be developed and improved to meet the more stringent Euro 7 standards, but it's precisely these restrictions that are spelling the end for internal combustion engines. The clampdown from the authorities regarding emissions makes it more and more difficult (read less and less profitable) for carmakers to continue down the fossil fuel path. It looks like the industry decided the only other way to go is EVs.

As apocalyptic as all this may sound for the good old piston banger, there are still plenty of years left for it. Sticking to Volkswagen, the company estimates 30 percent of the cars it'll sell in 2030 will still have an internal combustion engine as part of their powertrain. How much longer than that will they manage to survive, though, is anyone's guess.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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