Volkswagen Will Say Goodbye to the Combustion Vehicle Business in Europe by 2035

Volkswagen Will Say Goodbye to the Combustion Vehicle Business in Europe by 2035
Photo: Ronny Hartmann / AFP, Getty Images

Volkswagen will say goodbye to combustion engine vehicles in Europe between 2033 and 2035, one of the company’s board members said. It plans to do the same in the U.S. and China a little later and in South America and Africa further down the line.

In an interview with the German outlet Merkur.de published this weekend, Volkswagen sales board director Klaus Zellmer laid out the company’s roadmap for retiring the combustion engine across several regions. Zellmer said that, as a volume manufacturer, the company’s timeline for phasing out combustion technology was based on the different speeds of transformation in individual regions, according to a Google translation of the interview.

Zellmer explained that competitors who sell cars in Europe, for example, will have to deal with less complexity when it comes to transformation because of the clear political guidelines.

“We have set very clear goals and milestones. We will make our entire fleet CO2 neutral by 2050 at the latest,” Zellmer said. “In Europe we will exit the combustion engine vehicle business between 2033 and 2035, in the USA and China a little later. In South America and Africa, due to the lack of political and infrastructural framework conditions, it will take a good bit longer.”

In April, the European Union announced that it was increasing its carbon emissions reduction objective to 55% from 40% by 2030 compared and aiming for zero net emissions by 2050.

Despite the company’s plans to exit the combustion engine business, Zellmer told Merkur.de that combustion technology would be needed for a few more years. He added that the company would continue to invest in optimising its drives, which include diesel. Zellmer said that diesel is a particular challenge, but that there were driving profiles for which diesel was still in high demand, such as customers with high mileage.

In terms of battery-electric vehicles, Zellmer said Volkswagen aimed to increase the share of total sales to 70% by 2030 in Europe.

The announcement is the latest from carmakers who are making changes to their products in light of the dire situation facing our planet. Ford, for instance, has said it will only sell electric vehicles in Europe by 2030, and that it will spend $US1 ($1) billion to transform its factory in Cologne, Germany into its first European electric vehicle manufacturing centre. General Motors maintains that it will eliminate gas-powered, light-duty vehicle production by 2035 and plans to be carbon neutral by 2040. And Honda says it will stop selling gas-powered vehicles in 2040.

Gizmodo reached out to Volkswagen for comment on Zellmer’s interview but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We’ll make sure to update this blog if we hear back.