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Future of the Volkswagen Golf in doubt, but what about the Polo?

Published Aug 5, 2022

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Wolfsburg - The Volkswagen Golf has been such a fundamental part of the German carmaker’s past that it’s hard to imagine a future without it.

But the latest insights out of Germany are casting doubt on whether we’ll even see another generation of the venerable hatchback. According to Welt, internal combustion engined cars are set to become significantly more expensive in the coming years, due to the costs of keeping them compliant with ever-stricter emissions regulations.

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In an interview with the aforementioned German publication, Volkswagen’s new international brand head Thomas Schäfer, who also headed VWSA until fairly recently, said the company had not decided on whether there would be a Golf 9.

"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, while adding that developing a new one would be extremely expensive.

Will the Volkswagen Golf 8 be the last?

He did say, however, that the company was working on an upgraded version of the current Golf 8, and that a decision on a new model would be made in the coming year.

The reason Schäfer said it might not last the full seven or eight year life cycle is due to the fact that the European market will be almost exclusively electric by the early 2030s, and Volkswagen expects EVs to account for at least 70% of its EU sales before the end of the decade.

If the current Golf 8 was first launched in 2019, that would mean a Golf 9 would be due in 2026/2027, and that would theoretically need to run until 2033/2034.

Perhaps the biggest factor threatening to make internal combustion cars like the Golf unviable in the near future is that upcoming Euro 7 directives are expected to make them between €3 000 (about R50 000) and €5 000 more expensive, Welt reported. This is largely due to the more complex exhaust gas cleaning systems that will be required.

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However, what Volkswagen loses in the ICE market it could well make up for in the electric car race. To that end, the carmaker is planning to launch a new ID.2 entry-level electric hatchback in 2025, with a starting price of less than €25 000.

But where would this leave the Volkswagen Polo? That’s perhaps a more pertinent question for South Africa as the hatch is the lifeblood of VWSA’s assembly plant in Kariega, which produces it for all right-hand drive markets.

The above mentioned cost factors would surely weigh against it as per the Golf, but the Polo does at least have time on its side. With the current generation introduced in 2017, a new version could be launched by 2024, which may leave enough time for a full life cycle before things go all-electric.

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As far as we know, Volkswagen has not confirmed whether there will be a new-generation Polo. However various publications in India have reported that the seventh-generation Polo is under consideration for that country, where the current generation is being skipped. Is that confirmation that there will be a new Polo for global markets? Only time will tell.

We hate to say this, but given the monumental rise of the SUV, it might make more sense to merge the next Polo and Taigo models into a single crossover model. The Cross thing certainly seems to have worked for the Toyota Corolla, although the latter has at least continued to offer the sedan and hatch alongside it.

IOL Motoring

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