Detroit— A Volkswagen AG executive said Tuesday that the automaker will phase out conventional gas engines in three or four years in favor of more powerful and fuel-efficient turbocharged gas and diesel powertrains.
Mark Trahan, VW’s executive vice president for group quality, said the automaker plans to replace its three remaining naturally aspirated or conventional gas engines — a five-cylinder 2.5-liter and two six-cylinder variants — with turbocharged engines.
“You have to have a turbo these days,” Trahan told The Detroit News following an Automotive Press Association event. “We only have one normally aspirated gas engine, and when we go to the next generation vehicle that it’s in, it will be replaced. So three, four years maximum.”
Volkswagen is the second automaker in two days to imply that naturally aspirated engines could soon be a thing of the past as turbocharged engines become more popular.
On Monday, Joe Bakaj, Ford Motor Co. vice president of powertrain engineering, said conventional engines could become extinct in Ford’s lineup.
“At some point in the future that will be an option,” he said. He said that hybrid vehicles, which have conventional gas engines and electric motors, would be exceptions.
Automakers in North America plan to offer 3 million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles with turbocharged engines in 2013, according to estimates from Troy-based forecaster LMC Automotive. That's an increase from 2.1 million in 2012.
Bakaj on Monday said he could not predict when conventional gas engines could go away. And he was unsure which alternative powertrain type — whether EcoBoost or diesel engines, for example — could become the norm.