Here’s the easy part: the combustion engine is living on borrowed time. And here’s the harder part: predicting exactly when we'll see the last one sold in a new vehicle. One by one, automakers are moving toward electrification, and each one has set their own schedule for completing the transition. And while things are moving fast, each one is also leaving themselves room for wiggle in order to react to new conditions and realities.
This week we learned what Mercedes-Benz has in mind, courtesy the European site of Automotive News. It reported that a “high-ranking” official with the automaker told them the plan is to eliminate most combustion engines by the end of the decade. “We are switching from EV first to EV only,” they said.
In the short term, Mercedes will continue to offer vehicles powered by hybrid and plug-in hybrid technologies, but combustion engines, and some Diesels to which they are associated, will no longer be available in any market after 2030.
Mercedes is counting on demand for plug-in hybrid models remaining throughout the next decade in some parts of the world, but it expects that fairly soon, the vast majority of new vehicles will be all-electric, along with, perhaps, some hydrogen models. Given those conclusions, it’s quite possible that we won’t see any more gas-engine vehicles in North America from the carmaker by 10 yearts from now. This is according to Automotive News, of course, and Mercedes-Benz itself has made no official announcement. Yet.
Details to come
That could come soon, perhaps at an upcoming event that will feature company CEO Ola Källenius, who is expected to announce plans to design new platforms with their own operating systems. The first of these new electric vehicles could be launched as early as 2024. This is a radical change from the German automaker's original plans for the introduction of electric models.
Indeed, recall that not long ago, the company projected that plug-in hybrid and fully electric models would account for just over 50 percent of its consumer sales by 2030. Those expectations are being revised upward as the popularity of electric models is believed to increase dramatically. The company's flagship vehicle for advancing this technology, the EQS sedan, is just the beginning. Many of its features will soon be found on less expensive models.
It will also be very interesting to see how Mercedes-AMG reacts to this news. It will be very difficult and expensive for the performance division to develop and build combustion engines on its own. We should have a better idea of Mercedes' short- and long-term plans on July 22 when the company presents a scheduled update on its strategy.