In March of 2021, the industry giant and WRC icon Audi told the world that they would stop developing new internal combustion motors. This news comes shortly after fellow European rival Mercedes announced similar plans. Are we facing the end of the internal combustion engine? Should you be buying them now because they’re going to be a better investment than Gamestonks? Let’s discuss it.
What Is Audi Doing?
From big V8s to humble turbo-fours, internal combustion engines are slowly disappearing and being replaced by electric alternatives, and Audi is one of the companies pushing the change. They just released their e-tron, which is frankly pretty sweet, and unfortunately, their announcement wasn’t any kind of surprise.
So, what did they announce anyway? Basically, because emission standards keep getting stricter and stricter, Audi will not develop any new gas or diesel motors. That’s part of the larger Volkswagen plan. We already have the Porsche Taycan, and now the Audi e-tron, but Volkswagen wants to have more than 70 different EVs available by 2030, and they’ve invested billions into that idea. We guess the whole Dieselgate thing made them paranoid, and they’re really trying to get back on the good side of the Earth.
Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop selling ICE motors anytime soon. Engine design cycles are measured in decades, which means we’re probably safe for at least 10 years. And Audi said that they won’t be cancelling any internal combustion cars anytime soon.
The R8 might be a hybrid this next generation, which is what all supercars are becoming after they dominated the Le Mans, but they don’t have any plans to just cancel it or anything. But, it does mean there’s a time limit. And, yes, we’re approaching a time when you won’t be able to buy a gas-powered car at all.
What About Other Companies?
Now, Audi definitely isn’t alone here in going fully electric in the future. Like we said, the entire Volkswagen Group is going greener, shooting for a majority of their cars to be electric in the near future, and they’re making huge developments in compressed gas and hydrogen vehicles too, which means you might see a hydrogen-powered Lambo with electric motors soon. Hopefully, it’ll be just as insane as we’ve come to expect from Lamborghini.
Mercedes recently announced that they were not going to develop new ICE engines as well, and GM here in the States has been pushing their electric cars for a while. Both Ford and GM have pledged to have EVs on the road cheaper than their gas-powered equivalents by 2025, and last I checked, that’s only a few years away! Crazy!
Perhaps the most interesting place to look, though, is China. China is the world’s largest buyer of cars. And, as of 2021, they are by far the largest consumers of electric cars. Part of the reason is that China has laws forcing manufacturers to make EVs, or they’ll be charged huge fines, which is why Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Kia, and just about everyone else is now pushing electric vehicles worldwide.
Even more crazy might be NIO, the Chinese Tesla. Their cars can be charged in minutes because of battery swapping technology, they have great performance, and unlike Tesla, NIO actually makes money.
Now, right now NIO doesn’t sell any of their cars in the USA, but that could change soon, and their cars are cheap. You could have a Kia Soul or a high-performance EV from NIO. Which would you go with given that choice? Exactly. And does that mean internal combustion engines are going away completely?
Are Gas Engines Going Away?
Not yet, and probably not for at least 20 years. First, although it’s getting more difficult to keep older cars on the road, there are billions of fuel-powered vehicles roaming the streets. They aren’t going to just magically disappear.
Plus, there are companies like Dodge and BMW who seem hell-bent on bucking the electric trend. Knowing Dodge, though, they’ll figure out how to run a Hellcat on pure grain alcohol or something. You know, just totally embrace their moonshine-running roots. That’d actually be pretty cool.
And BMW just flat-out said that they will continue to invest and develop combustion engines for the next 20 years. The M3 isn’t going anywhere, which makes us wonder if the next great German rivalry will be between gas and electric, not just BMW and Mercedes.
What we are definitely going to see is fewer and fewer new ICE cars on the road. EV sales represent 5% of all cars sold right now, and that’s projected to rise to 7% by the end of the year. If that 60% growth trend continues, EVs will represent a majority of cars sold in 2031.
There are some big hurdles to overcome still, for instance, we don’t have the infrastructure yet, and the mining of the materials needed to make batteries is hard. That’s a small hurdle in the scheme of things, though, and Tesla, Ford, and Volkswagen all believe they’ll have those kinks worked out shortly.
Long story short, you will probably be able to wrench on and enjoy gas motors for at least a couple of decades and probably longer, especially since more people buying electric cars means more gas for the rest of us.
But, the change is coming, and if you have the resources, it might be a good idea to preserve the cars you love.
Should You Buy a Gas Car Now as an Investment?
The very first vehicles that will be phased out are the vehicles with big V8s and other fuel-gulping engines. Ford is already trying to make people comfortable with electric and four-cylinder Mustangs, and even traditionally V8-powered trucks are being replaced left and right with small diesels and more efficient turbocharged six-cylinders.
There’s a good case to be made for buying these V8s as an investment for the future. While something like the Camry probably won’t explode in value anytime, a car that’s already a bit rare, like the GT500, is about to get really, really rare. And the same forces that drove the price of the Mark IV Supra into the stratosphere will cause the price of the last American V8s to skyrocket.
Although, in our opinion, your time would be better spent enjoying it while you can. That way you can be one of those old guys that sits around talking about how much better everything was in the old days when we burned ancient plants for energy.
That’s a hard note to end on, so instead, let’s be optimistic. Can we be excited for the electric future?
Can We Be Excited for Electric?
There’s no question about it, we’ll miss the sound. Nothing compares to the music created by a flat-plane V8 leaving the light. Plus, charging an electric car can be a b*tch. You need to find a fast charger or run an extension cord from your apartment to the street, and that might violate your lease and the lady next door might trip and try to sue you. It’s a huge ordeal.
However, in almost every other metric, electric is better. It’s something that car people don’t like to admit. The torque from an electric motor is unreal, and it’s the reason a Tesla Model S can hang with a Hellcat in a straight line. Plus, the low center of gravity from the batteries mounted way down low means that the handling of these cars is only going to get more insane as time goes on.
There’s even a lot of practical benefits to electric cars too. As much as we want to believe the only thing worth talking about is performance, the lack of an engine and a gas tank means that electric cars have a lot more space to work with, which is why cars like the Porsche Taycan can have four seats and a huge trunk despite competing with supercars on the track.
Plus, the electric car customization world is just starting. People are finally modding their electric cars in order to push the limit. You have RTR pushing out 1,400-horsepower electric drift cars, and companies like EV West that are converting your favorite cars into high-power electrics. Check out this Beetle! When they were new, a Beetle had like 30 horsepower, the EV conversion gives it over 100 and drops the 0-to-60 time from minutes to sub-4 seconds.
The excitement for our future as automotive enthusiasts? Well, it’s going to be up to us. It’s going to be people like you and me that love customizing cars to learn to adapt and push our ideas into the future along with the cars we love.
There’s no doubt that we’ll be sad to see the V8s leave us, but the Earth is really important, and we can look forward to some really amazing electric cars.