Outgoing managing director of Volkswagen Australia, John White, revealed that although hybrid models are pre-approved for sale in this market, no change will be made to the current powertrain strategy.
Mr. White revealed this to TMR just one day ahead of a global statement from the CEO of Volkswagen passenger cars, Dr Herbert Diess, in which he announced that Volkswagen would realign its future product strategy with a range of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.
This announcement comes in response to the diesel emissions controversy the Volkswagen Group is currently facing.
In time Australia is likely to follow suit, but right now Volkswagen Australia has opted to stand by the mix of diesel cars in its range.
“We have no plans to introduce anything else.” Mr White told TMR
“Hybrid is always an option for us to introduce into the marketplace, it’s approved for the market, but there’s not a lot of demand in this market for that.”
Mr White has no concerns for any drop in sales of vehicles which aren’t affected by the ‘dieselgate’ emissions crisis either.
“I think it’s important to note our number-one selling car is Golf, it’s not affected by this, and on the truck side, Amarok is not affected by this, so I really don’t see an effect happening there,” he said
Despite these comments, Mr White conceded that no product was out of the question for this market, given that Volkswagen is progressively expanding its range of plug-in hybrid options overseas.
Already Volkswagen has shown the Passat GTE, a plug-in hybrid with up to 50 kilometres of electric range, and most recently the new Tiguan SUV debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show with a GTE concept of its own.
“We believe there continues to be a place for diesel, (but) our petrol engines are becoming more and more efficient.” Mr White said.
“Obviously we’ll take a look at our mixes on our affected cars, and our affected models, and we’ll follow very closely, and we’ll adjust as we need.”
“I think at this point, from what I’m seeing, I’m not seeing a big cry-out in Australia for hybrid or electric technology as of yet.”
It still remains to be seen what long-term damage Volkswagen, and even diesel passenger car sales in general, will suffer in response to the dieselgate scandal.
Other European marques, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have made tentative steps into the hybrid field, and future models will go further, offering plug-in variants of new or existing models in Australia.
As well as current diesel-powered Golf and Amarok models, which aren’t affected by the diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen has also introduced a range-topping diesel variant of the new Passat, which we’ll bring you the full details of later today.