Volkswagen tipped to keep Golf but not Polo come 2025November 21, 2022
A reported U-turn on the retention by Volkswagen of the Golf nameplate for a ninth generation will reportedly have the opposite effect for the Polo nomenclature by 2025.
Earlier this year, then newly appointed Volkswagen Brand Passenger Vehicle boss, Thomas Schäfer, stated that while a decision to keep the Golf around for another generation in spite of the availability of the ID.3 had not been reached, the odds of it remaining appeared slim.
“We will have to see whether it is worth developing a new vehicle that does not last the full seven or eight years,” the former head of Wolfsburg’s South African operation told Germany’s welt.de at the time.
Speaking to Britain’s Autocar on the side-lines of the Los Angeles International Auto Show this past week though, Schäfer remarked that although the ID brand represents the future of Volkswagen as its moves towards electric-only propulsion by 2030, “we would not let go of the Golf name”.
“We have iconic brand names, Golf and GTI. It would be crazy to let them die and slip away. We will stick with the ID logic but iconic models will carry a name,” Schäfer said.
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The apparent confirmation therefore will see the Golf live past 2025 and into 2026, whereafter it will be replaced by the ninth generation that will seemingly run concurrently with the ID.3 it was supposed to be replaced with.
Back in 2020, Volkswagen’s then Head of Sales, Marketing and Aftersales, Jürgen Stackmann, alluded to the continuation of the Golf for markets outside of Europe in light of not only the looming Euro 7 emission regulations, but also the banning of all internal combustion engine vehicles come 2035.
“What technology Golf 9 will bring we will see. It will again be leading-edge as we are now seeing with Golf 8 – whenever we come with next generation Golf it will be a mark for the rest of the industry to beat for the next five or six years to come,” Britain’s Top Gear Magazine quoted him as saying at the time.
The opposite is set to be true of the Polo though that appears set to be discontinued entirely after 2025 in favour of the much rumoured ID.2
“We had a very good plan, where we thought EU7 was an insurmountable hurdle that will accelerate electrification. And that basically replaces the combustion engine in small vehicles like the Polo, as cars become so expensive, there is no point carrying on,” Schäfer told Autocar in a related interview at the North American showpiece.
Revealing that the Euro 7 regulations would result in a price hike of up to €5 000 (R89 059) per car, Schäfer added it makes no sense to keep a car such as the Polo in production as it will be simply be too expensive for the segment and out of intended buyer reach.
“Two [or] three weeks ago, word got out that EU7 was coming through and it would be on a reasonable level. And we thought, ‘okay, let’s go’, that might help us transition a little bit. It doesn’t change the plans, but it helps financially because you can transition a little easier and reinvest at the same time everywhere. But last week, another message came through and we’re back to square one. It’s even worse,” Schäfer said.
“At the moment, we have engineers evaluating what that means. But if that is true [the expected impact of EU7 on the price of cars], we definitely won’t invest anymore and we’ll just keep the plan to electrify as quickly as possible”.
.. but not in South Africa for now
The apparent departure of the Polo, similar to Ford announcing the axing of the Fiesta last month by the end of 2023, is expected to have a long-term impact on South Africa as models sold in Europe are assembled at the Kariega Plant, formerly Uitenhage.
While the South African market itself won’t be affected due to Polo and Polo Vivo assembly continuing after said year, a long-term plan still needs to be drawn up on account of exports being the facility’s main business model ever since their receiving the Polo contract almost two decades ago.
A short-term plan though involves the apparent securing of a third vehicle confirmed earlier this month described as a type of SUV that ride on the MQB-A0 platform and export to markets where the Euro 7 regulations are not enforced as a means of offsetting production and financial losses should the Polo bow out in Europe officially.
“Discussions [about production] are still taking place, but [I can confirm] that Polo and Polo Vivo will remain [in production at Kariega] beyond 2025,” Volkswagen South Africa’s new Chairperson and Managing Director Martina Biene said.
Expect Volkswagen South Africa to announced more details about the Polo and indeed the still unnamed and unseen newcomer next year.