Volkswagen to stop CNG development
In an interview with Handelsblatt, Volkswagen Group has announced it will stop development of CNG technology. The group sold CNG-powered vehicles under the Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat brands. Instead, VW will focus on full-electric cars.
Natural gas has long been seen as a relatively clean alternative to diesel and petrol as we are waiting for the big breakthrough of full-electric cars. Volkswagen invested heavily in the fuel, offering the technology as a powertrain choice for 19 different Volkswagen, Skoda and Seat cars.
However, sales didn’t follow. “Market response hasn’t grown,” Frank Welsch told Handelsblatt. He is chief development officer for Volkswagen Group.
Last year, only 77,000 CNG cars were sold in Germany, reports Handelsblatt. In all, 3.5 million cars were sold in the country in the same period.
Mr Welsch added: “If we take the mobility revolution seriously, we have to concentrate on battery-electric powertrains. Everything else is a waste of limited regenerative energy.”
That’s also why Volkswagen’s CEO, Herbert Diess, has decided to focus on fully electric vehicle technology.
At first sight, this position appears to conflict with the recent launch of the latest generation of Caddy light commercial vehicles. Indeed, a CNG option was announced for the new Caddy. Nevertheless, this can be explained by the long development cycles in the automotive industry. Most likely, this Caddy will indeed receive a CNG powertrain, but future generations will not.
According to the report in Handelsblatt, production of CNG models will not seize immediately. Instead, Volkswagen will continue offering CNG models for current generation models until demand reaches a point where continued production no longer makes sense. This may be at the end of a model’s lifespan, or earlier.
Image: is CNG variant of the all-new Volkswagen Caddy has been announced (copyright: Volkswagen)