Cherish the 8, because it could be the end of an era.
Few cars are quite as accomplished as the Volkswagen Golf. For nearly 50 years, the German hatchback has been a true people's car. It transcends class, fits in everywhere, and offers something for everyone. But as the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end. Speaking to Germany's Welt publication, VW's Thomas Schafer said that while the company is working on a revised Golf 8, the future of the nameplate is currently unknown. "We will know more in twelve months," he said.
While we can't imagine a world without the VW Golf, Schafer says the hatchback's future is down to the numbers. "We will have to see whether it is worth developing a new vehicle that does not last the full seven or eight years . [It is] extremely expensive". He is referencing the fast-changing automotive world. With the gas-powered engine on life support, it would make little sense for Volkswagen to develop a new Golf with Europe's looming combustion ban in the mix. The Golf 8 remains one of the best-selling vehicles in the region.
It's not just the combustion ban that threatens the Golf's existence, either. Schafer said he expects European vehicle pricing to increase considerably in the coming years, thanks to the planned Euro 7 emissions legislation. This would make ICE vehicles between €3,000-€5,000 (approximately $3,050-$5,085) more expensive than before. "With a small car, these additional costs can hardly be absorbed. Entry-level mobility with combustion engines will be significantly more expensive ... starting prices at €10,000 will no longer exist in the future."
Of course, electromobility is being touted as the solution, and aside from the Golf-sized ID.3 (a hatchback not sold in the United States), the German giant is currently developing a range of small electric vehicles. "We plan to offer the ID.2 for less than €25,000. In three years' time, that will be a super attractive price for an electric vehicle," added Schafer. Currently, the cheapest Golf 8 derivative retails for around the €30,000 (approximately $30,450) mark in several European countries.
Schafer further explained that market share is no longer of importance but rather profits. He explained that in an attempt to become the world's largest automaker, the company created niche vehicles (Phaeton, anyone?) to plug several gaps. The ethos has since changed; now it's all about removing complexity from the system. However, he admits that iconic models are imperative to the company's success. "[We want to] make the brand shine again. To do this, we need core models that run really well, like the Beetle or the Golf."
We're guessing it would be better for VW to rebrand the ID.3 as a Golf before losing the iconic nameplate. Vehicles like the Golf GTI have an incredible cult following across the globe, particularly in America and Europe. In fact, in an exclusive interview with CarBuzz, the company's Hein Schafer told us that as many as 40% of GTI and R models are sold with manual transmissions. If the Golf 8 turns out to be the last variant, performance variants will undoubtedly become collectible in the years to come.