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Will Volkswagen Completely Quit Internal Combustion In Seven Years?

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One official says 'yes.' Another says 'no.' Who is correct?

Volkswagen is desperate to move on following that whole Dieselgate scandal. Since the fallout, it has replaced its CEO twice along with many other high-level executives. Heck, former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was arrested and spent time in jail for his alleged role. Now that diesel is out, electrification is in, and VW will begin launching its I.D. lineup of all-electric vehicles next year. But what does the future hold for internal combustion at the German automaker? Will it completely change over its massive product lineup to all EVs or a blend of the two powertrain technologies?

Autocar recently spoke to VW’s technical chief, Frank Welsch, at a summit in Wolfsburg, Germany where he clarified a colleague’s previous comments that indicated an all-EV future was in store beginning in 2026.

“It is not correct to say we will stop developing internal combustion engines from 2026,” Welsch said, correcting VW head of strategy Michael Jost’s previous statement that engineers “are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren’t C02-neutral.”

That sentence alone sure sounds like VW is prepared to go all-in with EVs. Welsch, however, has confirmed that’s not exactly correct. "What I think has happened is that people were talking about the 2040 date widely talked about for stopping selling ICE cars in Europe and then worked backwards in a logical way. But Europe is not the only market, other regions have their own regulations and requirements, and I can see us developing more and more efficient ICE cars long beyond the quoted 2026 date.”

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So, in other words, Europe is quickly moving towards an all-electric car (to varying degrees) future. China is too. Other countries, including the US, are not pushing EV legislation at that same fast pace. In addition, developing countries where charging infrastructure does not yet exist will depend on internal combustion, both gasoline and diesel, for quite some time.

Volkswagen Group pledged last year it will invest nearly $40 billion in electrification, autonomy, and other related technologies by 2022. Along with the upcoming I.D. lineup, Audi has already launched its all-electric e-tron SUV. The e-tron GT, revealed in concept form last month at LA, will arrive in 2021. It will share a platform with the also upcoming Porsche Taycan EV.

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