Audi announced today that it will produce its last internal combustion engine in 2033 (if people are still buying them by then), and it will only launch new vehicles that are electric by 2026.
At this point, every single automaker, except for just a handful of them — looking at you, Toyota — agrees that battery-electric vehicles are the future of the auto industry.
However, they don’t all agree on when to transition to only producing all-electric vehicles.
That’s where automakers like Tesla and few other startups have a big advantage.
They only produce all-electric vehicles, and therefore, they can just try to produce and sell as many as they can as the industry transitions.
Automakers who carry a legacy gas-powered vehicle business have to gauge customer adoption over time and try to phase out their internal combustion engine production in order not to disrupt their business too much as they transition to an electric future.
Now, it’s Audi’s turn.
At the Berlin climate conference today, Audi CEO Markus Duesmann made two announcements regarding the German automaker’s electric transition:
- Starting in 2026, Audi will only launch new all-electric models on the global market
- Audi will phase out production of the last internal combustion engines by 2033
The CEO said in his speech:
“Through our innovative strength, we offer individuals sustainable and carbon-neutral mobility options. I don’t believe in the success of bans. I believe in the success of technology and innovation. The exact timing of the combustion engine’s discontinuation at Audi will ultimately be decided by customers and legislation. The company expects to see continued demand in China beyond 2033, which is why there could be a supply of vehicles there with combustion engines manufactured locally. At the same time, Audi will significantly expand its range of all-electric models. With the new e-tron GT, RS e-tron GT, Q4 e-tron, and Q4 Sportback e-tron models, Audi is already launching more electric cars than models with combustion engines this year. By 2025, the brand aims to have more than 20 e-models in its lineup. “With this roadmap, we are creating the clarity necessary to make a decisive and powerful transition to the electric age. We’re sending the signal that Audi is ready,”
As you are already well aware, if you have been following my takes, I agree with Markus when he says that “the exact timing of the combustion engine’s discontinuation at Audi will ultimately be decided by customers.”
However, I think he is way off by thinking the combustion engine will last as long as 2033.
That’s 12 years from now.
People who are making those estimates are too closely looking at things like current EV trends, which are greatly limited by the availability of a variety of EV models.
I even see many analysts trying to compare EV adoption to cellphone adoption and other technologies, but that’s not a good idea either.
The purchase of a car is approached differently by consumers than less expensive electronics, where things like cost of ownership and resale value have little to no impact.
With over 100 new compelling BEVs hitting the market in the next three to four years, I think we will see a massive shift in consumer perception of all-electric vehicles, and the internal combustion engine is going to become undesirable for the vast majority of new car buyers.
It will take a few more years to completely phase it out and several more years after that for EV production to catch up, but it’s going to happen a lot faster than some automakers who are still counting on making money selling polluting gas-guzzler might think.
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