By on December 5, 2018

2018 volkswagen golf family - image: Volkswagen

Certain green-tinged websites would sure want you to believe it. At the Handelsblatt automotive summit in Volkswagen’s home base of Wolfsburg, Germany this week, VW strategy chief Michael Jost etched a tombstone for the internal combustion engine.

But is the coming decade really the last one to feature VWs with exhaust pipes?

Nope, but that’s when the *end* of the beginning of the end arrives.

The automaker sure talks a great game when it comes to electric vehicles (VW Group targets 3 million EV sales per year by 2025), and has set aside billions for the development and assembly of electric vehicles across the globe. The first I.D.-badged vehicles should begin rolling out of factories at the dawn of the new decade.

Still, look around and what do you see? Tiguans and Atlases. Jettas and Golfs. Can VW persuade the roadgoing public to shun ICEs for battery packs and charging cords? The company’s banking on it. Jost told the crowd his company was working on “the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2 neutral.”

This platform will start underpinning vehicles in 2026, he said.

“We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum,” he added. This platform will carry VW vehicles and those of other VW Group brands into the 2030s, presumably as EV sales gather in the background. It’s possible that, at that point, gasoline-powered vehicles could be relegated to a niche market in ICE-unfriendly Europe and other regions. Not in North America, though.

As EV market share grows, more and more vehicles are coming outfitted with standard mild hybrid systems, while the plug-in hybrid market is also on the upswing. Slowly, pure ICE vehicles will be bled out of automaker lineups, including VW’s.

So, exactly when does Jost envision the last VW vehicle with an internal combustion engine to roll out of the factory? There’s an answer for that: 2040.

[Source: The Local] [Image: Volkswagen]

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33 Comments on “The End of the Line for Internal Combustion Volkswagens?...”


  • avatar
    d4rksabre

    I’m ready for electric vans.

  • avatar

    pull the plug, burn that oil.

  • avatar
    gasser

    In California, summer already brings “brownouts” and “blackouts” when the electrical demands for air conditioning exceed the capacity of the grid system. How are we planning to add the recharging of 5 million electric vehicles to this???
    Add to the future cost of vehicle electrification; the rebuilding of the entire national power grid; (including additional power generating facilities); providing some system for apartment dwellers who lack a dedicated parking space to hook up their vehicles for several hours; a new, interstate highway charging system for people driving long distances (like 3 states over.)

    • 0 avatar
      DweezilSFV

      Gasser: stop talking sense. Utopia is just this close without your throwing turds in the punch bowl.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      1. The cars would charging primarily at night not during peak AC load.

      2. With the average commute less than 20 miles the cars won’t need to be drawing a full charge all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Whatnext

      British Columbia has a surplus of electricity California can buy.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      gasser, parts of the electric power distribution system are getting repaired or replaced all the time, at least in states where you can build new infrastructure. The extra load from electric cars charging at night will happen gradually and only in those places where the car owner has permission for an electrician to install new electrical wiring. These will be home owners with a garage and only a small percentage buy a new car in any one year. Electric vehicles are so unsuitable for long trips that I don’t expect any need for a interstate highway charging system. The easier, cheaper solution is to use electric vehicles for local commutes and gasoline engine cars for long trips. It’s not that unusual to rent a car for a long trip independent of what you use to drive to work.

      • 0 avatar
        Kendahl

        I once rented a minivan to haul several hundred pounds of equipment to a work site 1,200 miles from home base. When I tried again a year later, the rental company added a restriction that it could not be taken out of town. They might look on long distance rentals as a new business opportunity but I suspect there would be significant mileage charges.

        I also suspect that automobiles would no longer be practical for long trips. Instead, travelers would be expected to go by aircraft, bus or train and rent electric vehicles or hire electric taxis at their destination. No more using the family vehicle for the entire trip.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Fact is that with the PHEVs many people just use the 110v cord and an existing outlet. You do not need permission to install a 240v charging circuit. You need a permit from a gov’t agency and as long as you’ve got the payment you get the permit. They do not care if the electrical distribution system in your area can handle increased load or not, and the electrical company will not be a party to approving your permit or not.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    On one hand, I salute them for making this big gamble. On the other hand, I’m not sold on the idea that EV will ever be viable for 100% of the driving population, or desirable for even 50%. I would personally love an EV, but I wouldn’t not want to have an ICE vehicle in my household at all, and I doubt that will change in 1 or even 2 decades.

    There’s also the issue of efficient battery use. Normal hybrids generally chop 1/3 of consumption/emissions. With current power grids and like 60-100x more batteries, you can get to another 1/3. Getting to the last 1/3 requires tech that simply doesn’t exist at scale. You need fully carbon neutral electric production everywhere… lots of solar, wind, tidal, and even more batteries to match supply to demand.

  • avatar
    ScarecrowRepair

    For my own driving pleasure, I would both regret never having a clutch and stick again, but I would also relish not having all those damned kluges which make internal combustion engines so complicated — water pumps, oil pumps, fuel pumps, radiators, turbos, injectors, air and oil filters, mufflers, catalytic converters, spark plugs … vacuum lines, what else would I not miss?

    But as complicated as internal combustion engines are, they are still far cheaper than electric drive trains, and I can still refuel in 5 minutes without having to sweat where the next refueling station is until the idiot light comes on.

    When I can have even close to the same range anxiety (ie, none) with an electric car, and when the price comes down even close, then I will be damned glad to give up my clutch and stick.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      There’s really no reason you can’t have a manual transmission in an EV. A clutch may not be necessary, however.

      https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/a12138370/could-an-electric-car-have-a-manual-gearbox-and-clutch/

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Good point. I’ve rarely had problems inside my engines, but I’ve been bled dry by the array of pumps, sensors, injectors, starters and exhaust gadgets that keep the engine in cool running trim. The simplicity of pure EV seems tempting. But I’d rather have the kitchen sink option, like my Ford plug-in hybrid. Seems complex, with two powerplants, but they work so well together that I expect a long, trouble-free service life. The ICE barely lights up in slow traffic, even after the EV range is exhausted, so I figure that the engine has been still for about half the car’s hours on the road. Almost every short local shopping trip is done electrically, eliminating a major cause of engine wear. The car recaptures about 90% of available momentum through regen braking, so the brake pads should last much longer. Power handoffs are unnoticeable, far smoother than I ever accomplished with a clutch. It all works so well together, like a symphony.

      Best of all, I have no range anxiety. If my tank runs dry after 600 miles or so, I can refill anywhere in minutes. It’s the best of both worlds. So I’m sad that so many folks ignore PHEVs, to lust after next years’ EVs while they continue to drive their 20 MPG guzzlers. “The perfect is the enemy of the good…”

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @Wheatridger: Don’t forget transmissions. Lovely gems like the CVT. Nothing like the simplicity and fast response of direct drive. If you are used to manuals, the regen gives you the same feel as a manuals engine braking.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      I think we have to loosen our expectations of driving fun. Here is an extreme example to prove my point… what is more fun to drive, a Cayman with a PDK box, or a dump truck with a manual?

      EVs remove most of the need for a gearbox for driving fun by essentially giving you access to full power all the time. EVs are always in the right gear, or close enough that a gearbox is mostly pointless.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @sportyaccordy: I’ve had manuals for decades and still have them on my ICE cars (although I’ll probably get an electric sports car to replace them at some point). Part of the fun of an EV is that instant response. It’s a blast. ICEs seem unresponsive and sluggish after you get used to an EV.

  • avatar
    darex

    Once again, VW is touting(?) a phenomenon to which their own corrupt and diabolical actions contributed greatly. It’s something akin to “insider trading,” to my mind. They are neither to be commended, nor rewarded for their “efforts” to promulgate the EV future.

  • avatar
    George B

    I don’t believe that Volkswagen will follow through with high volume electric vehicle sales. So far they haven’t gained significant experience building gas-electric hybrid vehicles that can be a drop in replacement for existing customers. No need to have a garage for a charger if you buy a hybrid. Once a high volume car manufacturer masters building hybrids at a profit, it’s not too much of a stretch to also sell a plug in hybrid variant. Helps to have a charger, but the car isn’t stranded if one isn’t available. However, a full EV absolutely requires a place to charge it which narrows the potential customer base while requiring the customer to get the charger installed at their home.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      George B: No need to have a garage with a charger. All you need is an outdoor outlet. Yeah, you still need an outlet which is a barrier for some.

      What’s the alternative? For one thing, quick charging has gone from 50 kW to 350kW. Chargepoint has 500 kW chargers, but so far there are no cars on the horizon that can handle that sort of charge rate.

      For charging locations, the gas station industry is getting into the business. https://support.shell.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115005909229-What-is-Shell-Recharge-

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        mcs, people with an RV or an arc welder might have a 240V outlet outside the living area of the house. Most everyone else just has 120V 15A outlets available where you can run an extension cord to a car. Very slow charging. I guess a consumer might plausibly recharge their car while it’s parked at work, but not many are going to tolerate waiting at charging station. If charging is both inconvenient and much more expensive than residential electric rates, it will fail for sure.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          When I still had our Southwind RV, I made a 30ft 40-amp extension cord from the Elec Clothes Dryer plug in the garage to the RV.

          Worked fine for many years but we could only use the Dryer OR the RV extension.

          While out in the wild, I used my Honda EU-6500is to provide power to the RV using the 30-amp/240 socket on the generator and another power cord to the same plug on the Southwind.

          A similar setup can be made for people who do not want to spend the big bucks for a dedicated permanent external 240 outlet and supporting wiring.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @George B: You’re not an EV owner – I am. Charging overnight on 120v does work. It’s not a problem. I’ve done it on vacation. I’ve stayed at hotels with both level 2 and level 3 chargers. When I arrive, I’ll fill up on the level 3. Once there, I just plug into the 120v outlets they have in the parking lot rather than take one of the level 2/3 slots. That way I can just leave the car in the same spot overnight once I settle in for the night.

          Let’s do some math. My car gets about 4.2 miles per kWh. Most of my errands are within 10 miles round trip, so that’s about 2.4 kW for the round trip. A 14 amp 120v charger is 1.680 kW so it would take an hour and 25 minutes to charge.

          If I was lower and my 240v charger wasn’t available and the 120v couldn’t finish the job overnight, I could stop at a higher power charger and charge just long enough to add enough juice so that the 120v charger could finish the job overnight.

          Charging isn’t bad if you learn how to work with it. It’s unattended so that gives you a lot of options. On long trips, I charge at breakfast or catch up on email. Often, I spend more time on email than it takes the car to charge. I’ve done it while shopping too. Again, I’m in stuck in a check out line while the notification that the car is charged is going off on my phone.

          Charging is getting faster too. Chargepoint just opened of their first 350 kW charging in California and we already have at least one in Massachusetts. Shell (Shell Recharge) and other companies are starting to get into the charging business. Just last month, lithium batteries with double the density of those used by current EVs started rolling off of the production lines of two different companies. So by the latter part of the next decade, we should see 600-mile range cars. Someone with a 100 mile 5 day a week commute would just fill up once a week. Multiple-port 500 kW charging will keep the charging time to a minimum.

          Some of that same battery technology will be used by charging stations to store power during off-peak periods. Grid storage will play a huge role too.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    VW certainly is late to the hybrid party. The Jetta Hybrid I tested seemed as nice as any other Jetta, but only a handful were available for one year. A decade was lost to the TDI effort, but it’s been years since that broke. New products always came slowly from VW, even when they weren’t revolutionary. Even a now Golf would be sold for two years before importation to the US. I haven’t seen any sign that VW has speeded up its pace of development, except for the large sums they say they’ve invested.

    At this point, I’d be interested in a hybrid VW if they had one, but I’m through waiting for them to bring out something new.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I’d take this goal with a grain of salt. Right now you have to wait 12-18 months if you order an e-Golf. For all the criticism of Tesla, they were smart to get the Gigafactory going, before offering a mass market product. Where is VW Group’s battery factory?

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    There is no issue with the increased use of electricity due to EV use. The reduction in usage and availability of ICE vehicles will be replaced by electric EV’s in the similar manner that the reduction of hunting/killing animals for meat was replaced by meat being made in the backroom of the local grocery. Electricity just comes out of that wall receptacle. Much ado about nothing. /s

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Anyone waiting for VW to truly get the hang of producing ICE vehicles can stop waiting. Their electrical systems will continue to constitute comedy gold.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      Don’t I know about this. I have an oil leak on my GTI that I haven’t been able to repair yet. The complex electrics on my car are marginal at best. When we all have to start driving electric vehicles, I’ll look to the Japanese brands. Bosch isn’t much better than Lucas.

  • avatar
    jatz

    It’d be cool to have a car that _couldn’t_ mess up your garage floor but I don’t want to have to learn all that Reddy Kilowatt jargon.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I heard lithium is in short supply now and there are no untapped reserves. Your employer isn’t going to wire your parking lot with outlets and give you free electricity either.

    Most of our electricity comes from fossil fuels so what’s the advantage?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Have we reached peak lithium?

    • 0 avatar
      grinchsmate

      Lithium is in short supply. There are huge untapped reserves and numerous small cap exploration companies trying to finance new mines.

      And lithium is easily recyclable, it is not like oil where you use it one then fart it into the air.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      There’s plenty of lithium in the world.

      Free charging at work is an employee perk like free coffee at work, but you can charge just fine at home, just like you can make coffee just fine at home.

      What’s the advantage if the power company burns fossil fuel anyway? The advantage is that EVs are much more efficient than gasoline cars. So you burn considerably less fossil fuel for the same number of miles traveled.

      Also, an electric car gets cleaner over time as the grid does: coal is steadily being replaced by cleaner natural gas and cleaner-still renewables.


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