Volkswagen Might Kill The Ninth-Generation Golf

Morning Dump Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen might not make another generation of Golf, new car demand may be falling, BMW gives hydrogen another whirl. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

There Might Not Be A Mark 9 Golf On The Way

Volkswagen Golf R 20 Years
Photo credit: Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Golf is more than a car, it’s a standard. Just as the Golf GTI is the archetypal hot hatch, the standard Golf is often a benchmark for every compact hatchback the world over. More than 35 million Golfs have been sold since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback entered production in 1974, or roughly one for every 1.086 people in Canada. However, the Golf’s legendary tenure may come to an end. Volkswagen boss Thomas Schäfer stated in German newspaper Welt (as noticed by Motor1) that Volkswagen’s not sure if a ninth-generation Golf will be made. Now, we’re working with Google Translate here, so bear with me. However, if you are fluent in German, I’ll drop a link to the article here.

The new head of the Volkswagen brand, Thomas Schäfer, expects vehicle prices to rise significantly as a result of the planned EU emissions directive Euro 7.

Schäfer left open whether there will be a new edition for the VW Golf, Europe’s best-selling car. Because the political course is set for electromobility and the demand for it is developing rapidly, “we will have to see whether it is worth developing a new vehicle that does not last the full seven or eight years,” he said. That is “extremely expensive”. They are currently working on an upgrade of the current Golf 8. It has not yet been decided whether a Golf 9 will come onto the market after that: “We will know more in twelve months.”

It makes sense that a ninth-generation Golf is up in the air. German production of the Mark 7 Golf ran for roughly eight years, so a mid-cycle refresh of the current Mark 8 Golf in the next year or two isn’t unprecedented. If we’re looking at an eight-year production cycle for the Mark 8 Golf, a Mark 9 would likely launch towards the end of this decade, possibly closing out new combustion car production in Europe. Plus, with the expected costs of Euro 7 compliance, it might not be a huge stretch to simply make an entry-level EV. I guess we’ll just have to hang tight and see what decision Volkswagen lands on. [Editor’s Note: I think we’re going to hear German automotive executives make these giant pronouncements to prep the market, tweak the unions, and get concessions as they head towards a terrible winter without enough gas to make cars. This could very much be real, but buckle up for a weird year. – MH]. [Another Editor’s Note: The Golf brand is too strong to ditch entirely, so despite the cryptic messaging in this news report, I wouldn’t worry about the Golf actually going away anytime soon. Then again, the Beetle is gone, so who knows what the distant future holds. -DT]

New Car Demand Is Finally Falling

Last Finish: Visual Check Of Flush And Gap Dimensions On The Id.4
Photo credit: Volkswagen

Well, it took a while, but it seems like new car demand may actually be falling. Reuters reports that several automakers including Stellantis, Volkswagen, and BMW are seeing fewer consumers hungry for new cars.

“New incoming orders are falling,” BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse said in an earnings call on Wednesday, pointing in particular to Europe.

Carmakers have until now protected margins by bumping up prices, but the steep rise in inflation in North America and Europe could make it more difficult to pass on rising costs.

“Demand is coming down,” Volkswagen’s chief financial officer Arno Antlitz said last week, though he said order books were still full for the coming months. “The warning signs are for Europe and North America, less for the Chinese region.”

Reuters pins the drop in reported demand on inflation which, while fair, likely isn’t the only cause. We’re still seeing low inventory, long lead times on orders, and some equipment fluctuations that may affect new car desirability. A drop in demand is likely good news for the car market overall. If excess production capacity returns, manufacturers can slowly ramp up building of stock units, easing pain for dealers and consumers alike. In addition, Reuters reports that Ford CFO John Lawler is mulling incentives, saying “That’s a relief valve going forwards.” I don’t know about you but possible incentives sound pretty nice to me.

BMW Gives Hydrogen Another Whirl

Bmw Ix5 Hydrogen In Arjeplog Feb 22
Photo credit: BMW

While battery electric vehicles seem to be the popular way forward for green cars, they do come with some limitations. Energy density is fairly low, charging takes time, and weight impacts performance. However, battery power isn’t the only way to make a car with no tailpipe emissions. Automotive News Europe reports that BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said on an earnings call that the company is considering hydrogen propulsion for its upcoming Neue Klasse platform.

The first cars on the Neue Klasse platform are due in 2025 and will initially include a sedan similar in size to the 3-Series midsize car and a “sporty SUV,” Zipse said on the call. “We could also imagine a hydrogen drivetrain for this new vehicle generation,” he added.

BMW will start limited production at the end of the year of a hydrogen fuel-cell version of the X5 large SUV, called iX5 Hydrogen. “We are already thinking about a possible next generation,” Zipse said.

This isn’t the first time BMW’s given hydrogen a shake. You might remember the Hydrogen 7 made from 2005 until 2007 that burned hydrogen in a massively detuned N73 V12 engine. It was a bit crap, but that’s how early implementations of technology usually are. Honestly, hydrogen fuel cells sound quite promising providing proper infrastructure investments are made. Hydrogen filling stations are currently far and few between, although I will admit that filling up with hydrogen seems much more appealing than waiting around at charging stations.

Lucid Appears To Be Having A Rough Time

2023 Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance front three-quarter view
Photo credit: Lucid Motors

Between component shortages and inflation, it’s been a rough year for the automotive industry. While mainstream automakers like Ford and Toyota are certainly feeling some effects, the current economic situation has really played havoc with startup automakers. Take Lucid, for example. Automotive News reports that Lucid’s expected production figures are down by half to between 6,000 and 7,000 vehicles this year, not great numbers by any means.

Lucid delivered 679 vehicles in the second quarter. First-quarter deliveries were 360. Production out of its Arizona factory for the first half of the year was 1,405, the company said in a press release.

“Our revised production guidance reflects the extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges we encountered,” said CEO Peter Rawlinson. “We’ve identified the primary bottlenecks, and we are taking appropriate measures — bringing our logistics operations in-house, adding key hires to the executive team, and restructuring our logistics and manufacturing organization.”

Wow, that’s an aggressive second-half ramp-up if Lucid only built 1,405 vehicles in the first half of the year. The good news is that Lucid isn’t in huge financial peril, as the company states it has $4.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and investments. That should be good for a while.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Thursday, everyone! The weekend is just around the corner. I’d love to ask you a question: What’s the first thing you replace when you buy a car? It could be as simple as changing the oil or as much of an investment as throwing on new tires. Personally, I like to roll on tires that aren’t older than five years, have good tread, and aren’t unevenly worn. Replacement tires have been among the first things I’ve done on my past three daily drivers as those four black circles are the only things keeping a car on the road. Whatever the case, I’d love to know what your immediate go-to is after picking up a new-to-you car.

Lead photo credit: Volkswagen

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45 Responses

  1. For a car that’s not factory new, definitely a fluids change to establish a baseline for periodic maintenance items going forward. Then whatever it needs (motor mounts, shocks, bulbs, filters, belts, etc. etc. ad infinitum) until I feel a level of trust that it’s not going to leave me stranded.

  2. “Plus, with the expected costs of Euro 7 compliance, it might not be a huge stretch to simply make an entry-level EV.”

    The ID.3 is already a EV Golf in everything but name. So they could bring the name over, but the future is already here.

    1. That’s what they should have just done from the beginning, made it part of a multi-model “Golf family”, like the Mustang or the Oldsmobile Cutlass.

      I don’t know why so many automakers think they need to create special sub-brands for electric cars (ID, Ioniq, E, etc), when every single car made is going to be electric within the next 7-10 years. Eventually, the “sub brand” will be their entire product line, does Volkswagen really want every single car in the showroom badged as Volkswagen IDsomething and no other names? Because come 2030-2035, that’s how it’s going to be when their current ICE models phase out

      1. Agreed. These special electric sub-brands are going to seem outdated pretty quickly, too, once everything is electric. I’m glad that GM changed course after the EV-1, Volt, and Bolt. They are now just making electric versions of their current nameplates. Eventually, the “Electric” or “EV” will just be dropped when ICE goes away. Volkswagen should have done the same. Any established maker with some history is stupid to dump their catalog of historic nameplates and waste the hard-earned brand equity on stupid, trendy alpha numeric names or names dominated by references to electricity or ecology. “I.D”? What the hell is that, anyway? Hardly timeless.

    2. the e-Golf is a lot better than the ID.3 and the sales prove that. I’m pretty sure they had to restart production of it and the e-Up! because of demand while there were plenty of ID.3s available for purchase.

      The Golf did something extremely well that few electric cars do: Look normal and be built for practicality.

      Not everyone who wants to own a BEV want’s to shout to the world “I HAVE A BEV, LOOK AT MY BEV! Look at these cool all electric door handles that don’t work and look at how the internal storage is compromised because range trumps all!”

      The e-Golf is just an electric Golf, there are tons of performance parts for ICE Golfs that fit the e-Golf and you have all the regular parts availability and practicality of a regular Golf but without the pollution, oil changes, SMOG testing, etc..

      I don’t want a BEV that’s a technophilic POS that puts range and tech above things like having functional door handles, practical storage space, physical buttons/levers/switches/keys, etc.

      I want a normal car that doesn’t pollute.

      1. Yup. I don’t want an ID anything. They are ugly blobby things. I want a Golf (a GTI really) that happens to be electric.

        Why car companies keep shoving electric cars down our throats opposed to cars that happen to be electric is mind boggling.

  3. For a used car, I do the oil change/tire rotation/general check. After that look for small items that need addressing. I want it to look as new a possible so I am inclined to fix it’s issues.

    New car, nothing. That is the dealer’s problem.

  4. I expect VW to slap the “Golf” name on some sort of bloated “crossover” (or whatever the current term is for a puffed-up body and high seating position on a car chassis is) rather than giving those of us who actually want small cars that don’t consume excess real estate maneuverable, economical, fun little runabouts. After all, that — or simply quitting the car business altogether in favor of churning out SUVs of various sizes, plus Monster Trucks — has worked for damn near everyone else, hasn’t it? Maybe, if BMW and VW’s whingeing about falling sales is true, they went overboard on current fashion trends. Stellantis just has a bunch of superannuated rides, and their Italian imports are not really offering much beyond the supposed “magic” of their nameplates.

    When I bought my Corolla — couldn’t find a decent pre-touchscreen Golf in any sort of presentable condition for twice the money — I had the oil changed, spent six hours or so cleaning it thoroughly, and bought new wiper blades. Tires are next, though I’m not looking for anything but a little less noise and harshness than I get from the current cheap rubber. Then brake pads and linings. After that, I’ll drive until it keels over. Or I do. I mean, it’s a Corolla….

    1. The Golf hasn’t been #1 in Europe for some time:

      https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/best-selling-cars-europe-2022

      It is a top 10, but going down the volume list against lower cost competition. The Golf has been moving up-market and becoming less affordable over time. To combat loss of volume, VAG has cheaper versions of the “Golf” from Skoda and Seat. Europe is a big place with widely varying median family incomes, so the Golf is a luxury car in many parts of the EU.

  5. First thing I replace is the spare tire. If it’s a donut I get a full size spare (usually with the same tire I plan on using to replace the others with when the time comes).
    While I’m at it I replace the scissor jack with a floor jack and tire iron with a proper four way.
    I want to spend as little time on the side of any highway as possible.

  6. After purchasing a used car, assuming fluids look good, levels are good and all the basics look solid, I tend to drive it for a few weeks. The oil change, filters and any other projects that may crop up in that time. Our Mazda 5 got new plugs and rear shocks in the first month. Turns out the shocks were fine until you put more than 2 adults in there. The plugs I assumed (correctly) were probably original so a few bucks for those was a no brainer.

  7. “I think we’re going to hear German automotive executives make these giant pronouncements to prep the market, tweak the unions, and get concessions as they head towards a terrible winter without enough gas to make cars. This could very much be real, but buckle up for a weird year.”

    MH has it right here, folks. Trust me on this. It is not even remotely limited to the automotive space, that’s just what we discuss here on the Autopian. But it is ALL manufacturing. Every big manufacturing firm in Germany is bracing for severe shortages and telling Works Councils to be ready for temporary layoffs or even total shutdowns that are outside of their control.

    “Honestly, hydrogen fuel cells sound quite promising providing proper infrastructure investments are made. Hydrogen filling stations are currently far and few between, although I will admit that filling up with hydrogen seems much more appealing than waiting around at charging stations.”

    Hydrogen. Works. Say it with me now. Hydrogen. Works. It gives you all the advantages of gas, with virtually none of the downsides. 5 minute fill ups, 300+ miles of range, and no emissions. It works for pure combustion, PHEV, and more. If you say hydrogen doesn’t work, then you absolutely do not know what you are talking about. Simple as that.
    And believe me, I would certainly know. I’m very limited in what I can say for employment reasons here. But the adoption of hydrogen ICE and PHEVs in fleet usage is definitely accelerating significantly. Because, surprise, fleets can build their own hydrogen fueling station. And hydrogen refinery. For cheaper than gas. And when you put it in a PHEV, you also solve the noise and start/stop problems, and make for happier customers and communities. And the technology doesn’t really need to advance; H2 is very similar to CNG, so both are already very mature technologies.

    It’s just a matter of demonstrating advantages, driving adoption, and getting manufacturing costs down (which comes with mass production.)

    For passenger vehicles? Eh. It’s absolutely phenomenal and should be adopted, period. It’s the path of least resistance, least risk, and least cost. A trifecta. But the infrastructure is the big problem. You can’t just turn a gas station into a hydrogen station. You also can’t just throw a shitload of H2 into an old tank trailer and haul it to distributors. You need very specialized hydrogen tube trailers that can only carry about 600kg of H2 at 250bar, limited by the weight of the storage, or you need true cryogenic tankers that can maintain -260C over the entire route including unload stops. Oh and if the refrigeration fails or you have too much boil off from start-stop unloading, the resulting explosion can easily level city blocks.
    That means a single tanker can only fill up 120 Toyota Mirais (5kg/ea,) versus a gasoline tank trailer which typically carries 9200 or 9500 gallons or 452 2022 Toyota Corollas at 21 gallons each.
    Yeah. That’s a problem.

    “The good news is that Lucid isn’t in huge financial peril, as the company states it has $4.6 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and investments. That should be good for a while.”

    I have to concur here. Lucid definitely has shown they’re supply chain crippled, so if they really have identified alternates and second sources, then they probably can ramp significantly. And they still occupy a unique space with no actual competitors – the actually fucking luxury EV segment. (Tesla is not fucking ‘luxury.’ Their interior materials make 1980’s Ford and GM look good.)
    Mercedes-Benz is decidedly NOT in this segment, either. The EQS is an SUV, and the EQE is mid-luxe at half the price. Cadillac isn’t here either – their entry competes with Rolls Royce. Which leaves exactly nobody competing with Lucid. Which was an incredibly smart move on their part.

    That’s what’s given Lucid the time and space to be late with the car but still be able to outsell their manufacturing capacity, at a $155k+ entry pricetag. But if you want an ultra-luxe EV sedan either to drive yourself or be driven in? They are your only choice. All they need to do is keep doing what they’ve been doing – building good cars, building them well, and not insert foot in mouth up to the knee – and own that niche.

  8. Hydrogen is a foolish proposal to run EVs. The fuel cell stacks are very expensive due to materials costs, have more limited lifespans than batteries, and have such a low efficiency that well to wheels hydrogen fuel cell cars tend to be about 1/3 to 1/2 that of a battery EV, or basically on par with a gasoline ICE car. And the car still needs a battery pack to run.

    The various entrenched industries that control our transportation like hydrogen precisely because it makes you dependent upon a filling station model, allowing them to charge whatever they want. Hydrogen is very leaky and energy-wasteful, and costs more to produce enough energy for a mile of travel than just putting a smaller amount of energy into a battery for that same mile of travel. With a BEV, you can throw up some solar panels on your garage and charge up, bypassing the utility grid if you want, but grid electricity is still far cheaper per mile than H2. With hydrogen, it’s not so simple to make your home a filling station. With H2, there’s electrolysis losses in production, transportation losses, storage losses, compression losses, then there’s losses at the fuel cell stack and charging the battery when running the vehicle. All of that costs the driver money, which is exactly what industry wants. Various industries spent decades trying to keep BEVs off the market precisely because of the savings offered, and they were successful until Tesla came along. We should have had commercial BEVs with 200 miles range in the 1990s, as that is when the technology allowed for it(with lots of vehicle streamlining for load reduction involved, which also would have paved the way for 80 mpg midsized cars), but the auto industry was outright hostile to the concept.

    Hydrogen ICE is a less expensive route than fuel cells when it comes to building a car powered by H2, but it is also less efficient and thus costs more per mile of “fuel”. The inside of the engine needs a nickel plating to prevent embrittlement, and there is still an issue with leaky storage solutions, but this route is more viable than fuel cells from a vehicle production cost standpoint. BMW has indeed experimented with V12 powered hydrogen cars in Europe about 20 years ago, with 700-series models.

    1. Yep, it’s likely H2 has a place in large commercial/industrial type of applications, but for passenger cars fuel cells just seem like the worst of all worlds- expensive, can’t refuel at home (or anywhere a standard outlet is within 20 feet, one month last summer I drove 1700 miles using nothing but a standard 110V outlet to charge), still have to go to dedicated filling stations for all fuel, making green hydrogen is much harder than making green electricity, for fuel cells even slight contamination can damage the thing (at least H2 ICE can deal with that). The only reason I can see it is for people who are opposed to even slightly change their habits, or perhaps the very small group of people who drive 500+ miles a day almost every day.

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