By on June 23, 2021

Volkswagen Group has been prattling on about electrification for years and ultimately decided that Audi would be the tip of its progressive spear. The brand has cachet as both a luxury and performance division, while simultaneously possessing VW’s magical ability to produce vehicles that don’t become an eyesore after you’ve had them in the garage for a decade.

While transitioning toward EVs runs the risk of spoiling that, Audi is clearly the VW property best positioned to come after would-be Tesla customers and is not hesitant to issue reminders that it’s serious about being a global leader when it comes to battery-driven vehicles. On Tuesday, the Ingolstadt-based company announced plans to exclusively launch electrically driven automobiles from 2026 onward — adding that it doesn’t even plan on selling internal-combustion vehicles by 2033.

But these rules won’t apply to the Chinese market, which will be flush with internal-combustion vehicles produced within its borders years after the rest of the world has apparently lost the option to purchase them. 

“Through our innovative strength, we offer individuals sustainable and carbon-neutral mobility options,” Audi CEO Duesmann told attendees of the Climate Neutrality Foundation conference. “I don’t believe in the success of bans. I believe in the success of technology and innovation.”

Audi’s release stated that the EV timetable will primarily be dictated by consumer interest and governmental legislation (e.g. bans). But it’s vying to be carbon neutral by 2050 and feels it’s already on the path to get there. China doesn’t seem to enter into that equation, however.

From Audi:

The exact timing of the combustion engine’s discontinuation at Audi will ultimately be decided by customers and legislation. The company expects to see continued demand in China beyond 2033, which is why there could be a supply of vehicles there with combustion engines manufactured locally. At the same time, Audi will significantly expand its range of all-electric models. With the new e-tron GT, RS e-tron GT, Q4 e-tron, and Q4 Sportback e-tron models, Audi is already launching more electric cars than models with combustion engines this year. By 2025, the brand aims to have more than 20 e-models in its lineup. “With this roadmap, we are creating the clarity necessary to make a decisive and powerful transition to the electric age. We’re sending the signal that Audi is ready,” said Duesmann.

The expansion of a widespread charging infrastructure and renewable energy sources is also crucial for the ramp-up of e-mobility and its acceptance by society. Audi is actively involved in both areas. For example, just a few weeks ago the company from Ingolstadt unveiled the Audi charging hub pilot project as its own premium charging solution with a reservation system and lounge. On top of that, the carmaker has partnered with energy suppliers to promote the expansion of renewable energy sources.

This is another one of those weird instances where China has committed itself to environmental reforms in a manner that requires little-to-no action. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stated that it intends to require all new cars sold after 2035 to be eco-friendly. But the actual breakdown splits new vehicles in half, forcing 50 percent to be wholly electric, plug-in hybrid, or fuel cell vehicles. The other half get to be conventional hybrid cars, which are still entirely dependent upon gasoline to get where they’re going.

It’s a curious solution for a country that has everything to gain from convincing other nations to go all-in on EVs. China is already the world’s leading battery supplier and previously subsidized domestic electric vehicle companies on a massive scale. Provided it can keep suppliers in a favorable position and continue advancing its own technological base, it would find itself in an ideal situation when the whole world has gone electric. But China’s actions aren’t indicative of environmentalism being its first concern.

Despite the CCP being part of the Paris Climate Agreement (which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change claims is legally binding), it technically doesn’t have to do anything for another decade. While other nations are tamping down greenhouse emissions, China frequently goads them into upping the ante and has vowed to try and peak its own carbon dioxide emissions before 2030. It’s the equivalent of saying “just one more bite” at a dinner party and slowly finishing the food left on everyone else’s plate. Meanwhile, China produces more greenhouse gasses than any other country on the planet and currently accounts for around 28 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions. It’s also building coal-fired power plants at an accelerated rate to contend with its own swelling energy needs.

Audi has shrewdly realized that the world’s largest automotive market probably isn’t going to be dropping the hammer on gasoline-powered cars quite so aggressively as the European Union and tailored long-term production strategies accordingly. But remember that automakers frequently shift the goalpost and will likely delay whatever EV targets they’ve set, even if they’re committed to phasing out ICEs eventually. That 2033 target is likely to be pushed back to 2043 in a few years.

[Images: Audi]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

30 Comments on “Audi Transitioning Solely to EVs Doesn’t Include Chinese Market...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    One minor factor helping to drive electrification is the rise of 4 cyl premium vehicles. You have an attractive car, it’s quite, it drives beautifully but then you hit the gas and it’s either fake engine sounds or a droning moan. Electric is so much more premium feeling in terms of smoothness/NVH.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yup. The 2.0T luxury sedan or CUV is a strong argument in favor of electrification.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I know I’m not the only one who pointed this out, but the strategy seems to be make cars suck so much buyers overlook EV’s current flaws. Thank you Comrade CARB.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Displacement taxes and CAFE footprint rules were probably the biggest drivers.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Well, based on my personal car search that I just wrapped up, if CARB’s mission is to make cars suck, they’ve failed miserably.

          I drove probably 10-15 different models as part of my car search. Some were better than others, but none of them sucked. I suppose the CUVs I tried out sucked by comparison to what I ended up with, but they’re not bad cars by any means.

          Meanwhile, I can think of a whole list of cars from back in the day that sucked…badly. Unreliable, slow, poor handling, lousy in crashes, rustbuckets…you name it. About the only thing old sucky cars had over the new ones is that they were easier to fix. But once they were fixed, you still had a sucky car.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            So what did you get?

            The Jaguar XE was the last car I drove that I think deserved a “sucks” label. And every Subaru I’ve ever driven.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, I submitted a “reader review,” so watch this space. :)

            I’ll reveal the finalists, though: Honda Accord 2.0T Sport, VW GTI/Jetta GLI, and Hyundai Sonata N-line. All were darn solid drivers. I drove a ton of other stuff too, and none of it sucked, unless you count the Elantra N-line, which sucked to look at but drove quite nicely (Hyundai has really upped their DCT game).

            And no more used Audis…LOL. Mitzi the A3 is off to new-owner-land, where she can consume water pumps and sunroof motors on someone else’s dime.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m gonna bet you ended up with the Sonata, but we’ll see.

            The most recent car I drove that deserved a “sucks” label was a previous-gen Sentra. What a turd.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            dal, not revealing anything, but the Sonata N is actually quite the undercover hot rod. And Hyundai has definitely upped their DCT game.

            But when we say something sucks, I think some context is needed. I’m sure a Sentra sucks compared to what you drive, but taken on its’ own merits, it’s probably a perfectly competent commuter car.

            Growing up, a sucky car was one that flat out didn’t work, or was so slow that a kid on a bike could have outrun it. Hell, my dad had an Audi 5000 wagon that all the buff books drooled over back in the day. It was so underpowered that if you wanted to go up a hill and maintain your speed, you had to turn the A/C off. This, in a car that would go for sixty grand or so in today’s money. THAT sucks. In fact, the Sentra you drove could probably demolish that old 5000, plus it’s safer, gets better mileage, and will probably run flawlessly for 100,000 miles. Not so bad, when you think about it.

  • avatar
    aja8888

    “But China’s actions aren’t indicative of environmentalism being its first concern.”

    You mean you just now figured this out? They are not G7 members and will never be. The Silk Road initiative is first and foremost.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    China’s retention of gas-powered vehicles as the rest of the world supposedly shifts to EVs is just one more way that it will retain its crown as the planet’s most prolific producer of pollution and greenhouse gases. Fortunately for the Chinese, none of the well-intentioned “climate change” treaties and high-minded manifestos impose any restraints on it all, testifying to what a bunch of hooey all that diplomatic virtue signaling amounts to.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed; China will do its own thing, with no regard for ‘treaties’.

      “China produces more greenhouse gasses than any other country on the planet and currently accounts for around 28 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions”

      Yes, and when reduced to CO2 on a per-capita GDP basis, it’s even worse. Translation: Pollution should be commensurate with GDP output, but in China’s case, they are the worst offender.
      –> However, SCE doesn’t subscribe to the notion that CO2 is a pollutant, but even the CO2 measuring stick makes China look bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Cicero

        I agree with your point about greenhouse gases as pollution but in addition to CO2 output China pumps out a horrendous amount of “real” pollution as well. Everyone looks the other way.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      By the same logic:

      I’m 350 pounds, I smoke like a fiend, and I eat McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The same is true of my neighbor, Fred. I’m waiting for Fred to make some changes before I do. I mean, if Fred won’t change, why should I?

      Brilliant logic…if your plan is to keel over of a heart attack at age 55.

      • 0 avatar
        jeffmete

        It’s way more complicated than that. We can be as virtuous as we want, and nothing will change in the world (c02 levels) unless every country gets involved. China is a competitor for our dollars and manufacturing jobs, if they don’t change, they will continue to suck away both. Especially if our laws get restrictive in ways that increase the price of products made here.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          “We can be as virtuous as we want, and nothing will change in the world (c02 levels) unless every country gets involved.”

          Change the words “c02 levels” to something else – say, “voting rights” – and tell me that still makes as much sense.

          I’d say other countries doing the wrong thing doesn’t justify us not doing the right thing.

          And if you want to look at China as an economic competitor, then let’s do that. Historically speaking, has developing and selling new energy sources been a money maker for any country you can think of? The answer is a big, fat “yes,” the new energy source was petroleum, and the country that developed and sold it was the United States. This country wouldn’t be where it is today without petroleum…which, by the way, was also a far cleaner source of energy than anything that had been used before.

          And today, there’s an even bigger market for energy than there was 100 years ago when petroleum revolutionized the world. Someone is going to develop the technology. Would you rather it be China, or have us be the country SELLING it to China? I know where I’d like us to be.

          There’s no reason why progress and profits should be mutually exclusive.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Change the words “c02 levels” to something else – say, “voting rights” – and tell me that still makes as much sense.”

            Pollution and GHG emissions don’t work the same way as voting rights though. It is a “public/common good” situation.

            I don’t think the answer is “do nothing”. I *do* think the answer is to sanction China if they don’t appear willing to actually improve.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’d love to see China sanctioned – I just have no idea how that would work without it blowing back on us.

          • 0 avatar
            jeffmete

            I’m not talking voting rights I’m talking a global issues that can’t be changed by one country. I understand your point that that it is not an excuse to do nothing, but, we have to do something that will not make us less competitive or it will be like the old adage, cut off your nose to spite your face. Your energy argument is slightly twisted also,(if you lived through the ‘70’s fuel embargo, it would be clear). While money was made on oil, importing oil nearly crippled us. And batteries are not an energy source, but energy storage. We are starting the same thing with batteries and magnets, importing key components and materials.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Only one who believes the virtue signaling of their corporate overlords would be at all surprised by this.

      Do you really believe this has anything to do with saving the planet? It’s about making more money for VG. If China won’t play along (and they won’t) then they’ll get gas powered vehicles. The rest of the world will be fed more expensive electric vehicle.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    seemingly every big public Western corp:

    (insert topical issue here) IS the Most Important Thing Ever—unless it gets in the way of making money in China or any other major non-Western market.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “(insert topical issue here) IS the Most Important Thing Ever—unless it gets in the way of making money in China or any other major non-Western market.”

      It’s because in Western (non)markets, “making money” pretty much resolves to getting subsidies, massive redistributions of of other people’s value add, and special favors by now. Hence, over here, it makes no difference if whatever nonsense they sell, isn’t competitive with even gold plated horse drawn carriages. After all, The Fed will pump up their stock prices regardless, as long as they spew enough regime friendly, PC pap for the indoctrinati’s to uncritically fall for.

      In places with less seedcorn to redistribute to regime connected nonsense peddlers, that’s not an option. There, they hence need to buy tings which work, and work reasonably efficiently.

  • avatar

    The new upcoming EU regulation on emissions (forget what it’s called) makes it so difficult to make a compliant fuel-burning engine that it’s forcing EVs.

    Thanks EU legislature!

  • avatar
    downunder

    So China will still produce ICE/Hybrids when the rest of the world goes total ev. Hooray! Australians will still have ICE vehicles in the future as the current governments, both state (some) & federal don’t believe in EV’s and are trying to tax them out of contention, believe in green coal (it’s only green if you paint it) and LPG is the best thing since sliced bread. Amongst their arsenal is the fact that EV’s can’t tow, will ruin the weekend, and kill the Aussie ute (don’t tell them there hasn’t been an Aussie ute since they ran Holden out of town). I for one welcome my Chinese overlords/car dealers!
    Disclaimer I own a HAVAL H9.

  • avatar
    stuki

    “It’s a curious solution for a country that has everything to gain from convincing other nations to go all-in on EVs.”

    They are still a productive country. hence need stuff which works. Not just mindless nonsense to babble about while living off of burning seedcorn and robbing an ever dwindling class of productive people.

    Communism ain’t all that as far as encouraging efficient resource allocation and production. But compared to some run-amuck financialized ambulance-chaser-and-FIRE-leech-topia, it’s light years ahead.

    As for Audi: Blah, Blah. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, plan. While babbling to anyone dumb enough to pay attention about all great things they will do tomorrow. Just not today.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Names aside, the Chinese form of government has about as much to do with “communism” as my attempts to heave a basketball in the general direction of a hoop have with the NBA. It’s oligarchic state capitalism.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @dal20402 – Exactly. No different than Russia claiming to be a democratic republic.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Whatever you call it, it’s pretty sad, unfree and inefficient allocator of both resources and spoils.

        Which would have been rather obvious to all by now, if it wasn’t for The once-was-West; 50 years post Nixon fully opening the floodgates to 100% undifferentiated kleptocratic rule; being even worse. On all accounts. And not just by a little, either.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Lou_BC: “Never Mask, Never Vax!” This message is approved by Morticians of America Association.
  • Lou_BC: @chuckrs – pubmed and the cochrane library database are good sources of information. Cochrane is great...
  • jkross22: @Mike and @Lou, It might indeed be rare to have side effects. Then again, if the company that produced the...
  • Lou_BC: @bunkie – there are experts who want to re-impliment mask wearing due to the increased infection rate...
  • Lou_BC: Deaths are predominantly in unvaccinated people. Once again, Your comments are inaccurate and misleading.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber