Despite focusing on its new ID. EV range, Volkswagen won't ditch combustion engines any time soon.
After the disastrous Dieselgate scandal caused significant damage to its reputation, Volkswagen wants to reinvent itself as a leading electric car manufacturer. This started last year when the German automaker unveiled the ID.3 as its first-ever fully electric vehicle, but this is just the start of VW's electric onslaught.
In the next few years, Volkswagen's ID. family will expand with the ID.4 electric crossover, production versions of the ID. Buzz, and ID. Vizzion concepts, and two smaller electric cars that will slot below the ID.3. However, despite a huge investment in developing EV technology and tougher emissions regulations, VW still thinks combustion engines have a future in the car industry.
Speaking to Autocar, Volkswagen technical chief Matthias Rabe thinks combustion engines "will have a longer future than some people predict," as automakers are likely to utilize synthetic fuels made from biomass or other materials in the future.
Gasoline features a limited amount of ethanol produced from crops, but Volkswagen has been researching e-fuels synthetically produced from natural materials that don't emit any harmful emissions. Bentley is also researching the technology, but it will be a long time before it becomes production-ready.
While the strict emissions regulations have forced Volkswagen to focus on EVs to reduce emissions, Rabe believes the limitations of electric technology in other transport segments such as the weight and size of current batteries will lead to e-fuel development.
"We will come to e-fuels," he said. "If you look at the aviation industry, e-fuels are in high demand because [planes] won't go electric, otherwise you won't cross the Atlantic. We take our CO2 targets very seriously and want to be a role model on CO2, but that doesn't mean we will exclude the combustion engine."
Rabe added that Volkswagen is also committed to "a broad field" of powertrain options for at least the next decade and that the firm is introducing compressed natural gas powertrains in some markets. Mercedes is also researching alternative eco-friendly powertrain options previewed by the radical AVTR Concept, including lithium-metal anodes, lithium-sulphur batteries, and lithium-oxygen batteries.