A new generation of the Volkswagen Golf – one of Europe’s top-selling vehicles – is yet to be locked in, according to a new report.
In an interview with German publication Welt, Volkswagen Group CEO Thomas Schäfer said the company has yet to decide whether to develop a ninth-generation Golf.
According to the newly-appointed CEO, who took the position on July 1, Volkswagen will make that decision within the next 12 months.
The future of the Golf is set back by the increasing cost of development for internal combustion (ICE) vehicles, with Euro 7 emissions standards arriving in the coming years and the European Union agreeing to ban ICE cars by 2035.
“We will have to see whether it is worth developing a new vehicle that does not last the full seven or eight years,” he said, adding: “We will know more in twelve months.”
In addition, Schäfer added that it is “extremely expensive” to develop Euro 7-compliant vehicles, with retail prices expected to increase between €3,000 and €5,000 (AU$4400 to $7300).
The current, eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf debuted in 2019, with a traditional seven- to eight-year lifespan expected, meaning a new-generation Golf would not launch until around 2027.
This would leave approximately five years before Volkswagen begins removing ICE-powered vehicles from its European lineup and seven years before the Europe-wide ban in 2035 – strictly limiting the availability of the Golf going forward.
“In Europe, we will exit the combustion engine vehicle business between 2033 and 2035, and a little later in the USA and China,” said VW sales director Klaus Zellmer last year.
Nevertheless, Schäfer confirmed a facelifted version of the current Volkswagen Golf is under development. It should launch within the next 24 months, based on the timing of previous Volkswagen mid-life updates.
While the report focused on the Golf, it could mean the future of the Polo light hatch is also bleak, while Audi has confirmed the mechanically-related A1 and Q2 are unlikely to survive once the current generation models reach the end of the road.
The potential axing of the Golf joins a number of similar moves across Europe, with the once-popular shape facing competition from crossover SUVs and electric vehicles.
For instance, the Ford Focus and Renault Megane will be axed in the coming years, while reports claim the Hyundai i30 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class are likely to be replaced by SUVs.
A new-generation Audi A3 will shift to electric power in line with the brand’s transition to an EV-only line-up from 2026.
Volkswagen currently sells the Golf-sized ID.3 electric hatchback, which would indirectly replace the current Golf 8 if the ninth-generation model isn’t secured.
As part of a small EV project led by VW’s Spanish performance marque Cupra, a smaller, Polo-sized city hatchback – likely badged ID.2 – will arrive in 2025, alongside the Cupra UrbanRebel, a model from Skoda, and according to Welt, another version from Volkswagen.
“We plan to offer the ID.2 for less than 25,000 euros. In three years’ time, that will be a super attractive price for an electric vehicle,” added Schäfer.
The targeted driving range for the vehicles will be 350 to 400 kilometres, which is “the psychological sell point at the moment,” according to Schäfer.
Volkswagen Australia will kickstart its electric vehicle rollout with the ID.4 and ID.5 mid-size SUVs, with both models due next year.