Whilst its profound contribution to the motoring world is difficult to overstate, the impending electrification of the lower segments of the automobile market, wedded to the marked shift in global attitudes away from combustion engine vehicles, may have already begun to draw the curtain on the Volkswagen Golf imperium.
As a result, it seems increasingly likely that the Mk8 Golf, upon reaching the end of its natural life cycle around 2027-2028 will not be succeeded by a replacement model: instead, the Golf will be rendered entirely obsolete by a whole range of compact electric vehicles currently being developed by VW. The beginning of the Golf’s twilight appears even more certain when examining the very recent and very steep rises in the production costs of internal combustion vehicles due to the necessity to incorporate more complex exhaust systems that comply with Euro 7 emission regulations.
As governments, particularly in Europe where the Golf’s primary market is situated, continue to strangle emissions and transition towards greater sustainability, traditional diesel and petrol vehicles are becoming far less economically feasible for manufacturers such as VW. Moreover, this is occurring against a backdrop of technological advancements in battery and assembly line technology, and favourable economic and consumer climates that are making electric vehicles significantly cheaper to produce.
Consequently, the day may soon arrive where compact electric vehicles, after years of being less profitable, become less expensive to manufacture than internal combustion vehicles. This will inevitably spell the end for hot hatchbacks such as the Mk8 Golf not underpinned by an electric powertrain.
Thomas Schafer, the CEO of VW, has acknowledged this emerging reality, stating that the costs of combustion vehicles are expected to rise by between €3000 and €5000 to counteract the climb in production expense. Thus “entry-level mobility with combustion engines will be significantly more expensive”. Furthermore, when considering the EU’s policy to ban the sale of non-zero emission vehicles by 2035, dreams of a Mk9 Golf seem all the more fanciful as the vehicle would inexorably struggle to fulfil the standard 8-year life cycle envisioned by manufacturers for all production vehicles.
This bleak forecast for the Golf is dealt yet another decisive blow by VW’s unwavering commitment to e-mobility, with the firm anticipating electric vehicles to account for 80% of their sales in Europe by 2030. To facilitate this, VW have announced that they are planning four separate compact and affordable electric vehicle models for 2025, with one of these being the upcoming ID.2, which utilises a truncated variant of the MEB architecture used in the Volkswagen ID.3 and will boast a range of slightly above 200 miles. When factoring in that the most rudimentary ID.2 will float around the price of €25,000, which is the region currently inhabited by the Mk8 Golf, all fingers seem to gesture towards the Golf being completely retired in favour of an electric substitute in the near future, even if the ID.2 is not intended for this monumental task.
Though this fact may disappoint many motoring enthusiasts, Schafer has confirmed that VW are working on a facelift model for the Mk8 that will aim to reinvigorate the model as it approaches the later stages of its life, with many of its other combustion engine cousins such as the Tiguan and T-Roc likely to also receive facelift models before their expiry.
The loss of the Golf will signify the closing of an era yet a crucial step towards electrification and a more sustainable future for the automobile industry. Hopefully VW will be able to complete this transition whilst conserving the bountiful supplies of affordable enjoyment and driving exhilaration deeply ingrained in the Golf DNA