Speaking to the media at the launch of the facelifted Golf, Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess spoke about how the current trend of engine downsizing was at an end, as increasingly stringent emissions testing and revised fuel consumption standards were showing the downsides of shrunken powerplants.
“The trend of downsizing is over,” he said. “Emissions tend to go up as engines get smaller.” Diess said that the Volkswagen Group would not be pursuing engines that are smaller than their already-tiny 3-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol unit, and that oil burners weren’t going to shrink any further than the 1.6-litre turbodiesel the firm already uses.
Talking about diesels, Diess said the “Polo is currently 30% diesel [in terms of sales], but as diesel gets more expensive [to meet stringent testing], it will not be as popular. Small diesels are just not economic.” He went on to explain that the popularity of oil burners in some markets (with certain European countries boasting take up rates higher than 50%) were largely due to government incentive. It’s “a result of favourable tax regimes. Once you have a price advantage, people will play along.”
So strong is Volkswagen’s move away from diesels (we wonder how much of it is due to Dieselgate), that the firm isn’t sure about offering a diesel option at all once the current Polo’s successor is succeeded. “It’s difficult to predict. Today, diesel take up is still strong. but if you look at the difference between the current [economy] cycle and [real-world Driving Emissions test] RDE it is worse in Germany, where the test only requires between nine and 10 kilowatts to do, but on the autobahn you need 100kW to do 200kmh.”
Will we see a resurgence of larger motors, then?