Since its humiliation in the Dirty Diesel Debacle, the Volkswagen Group has been preaching the EV gospel with the zeal of the newly converted. Several automakers have forecast that substantial percentages of their sales would soon consist of plug-in vehicles, but as far as we know VW is the first to set a date for the eventual extinction of ICE models.
“Our colleagues are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2-neutral,” said Volkswagen Head of Strategy Michael Jost at a recent industry conference. “We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum.”
Don’t start shorting oil stocks just yet, however. As usual, the automaker’s tentative timeline is much longer than those of eco-futurists and EVangelists. Jost said his company would roll out a new and final generation of gas and diesel cars beginning in 2026. After this point, fossil-burning cars will slowly fade away, although VW will continue to improve its combustion engine technology. Even after 2050, says Jost, some dinosaur-burners may still be sold in regions where there is insufficient charging infrastructure.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, VW plans to begin production of the first of its new line of EVs, the I.D. Neo hatchback, in 12 months in Germany. Other models from the I.D. line will be assembled at two sites in China beginning in 2020.
The Volkswagen Group is “fully committed” to the emissions reduction goals outlined in the Paris climate accord, said Jost. “We have a clear responsibility here. We made mistakes.”