Back in 2020, regular contributor, Lance Branquinho, penned an excellent opinion piece entitled, Last Round of Golf?, which then highlighted the potential demise of the beloved Golf as the firm presses firmly towards an electrified future. If you haven’t read it, please do.
Less than a year later, in March 2021, Volkswagen announced its Accelerate strategy and therein, models such as the Golf, T-Roc, Tiguan, Passat and Tayron were all pegged to receive successors, albeit with increased electrification.
One of the key takeaways from the Accelerate strategy was that VW’s combustion engine fleet would continue to be developed in parallel to the firm’s significant Electric Vehicle (EV) ambitions.
Fast forward to the present and a change in sentiment is afoot in Wolfsburg. Volkswagen’s new CEO, Thomas Schäfer, in an interview with German publication, Welt, highlights that a decision on the future of the Golf has yet to be taken and that the fate of the popular model will be decided within the next 12 months.
More stringent Euro 7 emissions regulations are due in 2025 which is expected to hike prices for Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles as development costs increase in an effort to make combustion engines comply with the incoming regulations. These increasing costs may very well spell the end for Golf and other combustion-engined models in Europe. More so, Schäfer comments that it’s “extremely expensive” to develop a new Euro 7 compliant ICE vehicle. Many brands have already committed themselves to electrification and pressing on with ICE development for some brands is more than likely to be unprofitable going forward.
The European Union (EU) plans to ban the sale ICE vehicles by 2035, which means that we may not see next-generation Golf 9 come to fruition as Europe and indeed the world shift to electric mobility.
It’s also worth noting that profit margins on small vehicles are less palatable when the cost to develop them reaches breaking point. It’s for this very reason that some brands are wielding the axe on their smaller models — the Audi A1 and Q2 crossover and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class are good examples of this and more widespread product culling can be expected in coming months and years.
With that said, it’s not only the future of the Golf that’s hanging precariously in the balance but perhaps the locally-assembled Polo too.
This article was originally published on Cars.co.za.
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