Audi recently made a bold announcement that it would no longer sell gasoline- or diesel-burning vehicles come 2033, and that it would stop development of new internal combustion power plants as of 2026. But there was an asterisk attached to the announcement - it did not refer to China, where the manufacturer will keep selling fuel-burning vehicles even after 2033.
Now even though China is the world’s largest single market for EVs, the vast majority of new cars purchased in the PRC are still conventional internal combustion-engined vehicles - of of a total of 25.3-million new vehicles bought in 2020, only 1.4-million were electric (10.9 percent more than in 2019). So while the market for EVs is growing steadily (EV penetration in the market is around 6 percent, which is better than in many other countries, such as Japan), the shift won’t happen quite as quickly as in some other markets and this goes some way to explain Audi’s decision.
Automakers’ primary concern is still protecting their business, and if that means not going fully-electric in some markets, then that’s exactly what they will do. Automotive News published this official statement from Audi which said that
The exact timing of the combustion engine's discontinuation at Audi will ultimately be decided by customers and legislation. The company expects to see continued demand in China beyond 2033, which is why there could be a supply of vehicles there with combustion engines manufactured locally.
Audi plans to expand its lineup of fully-electric models to 20 by 2025, but even after it completely switches to electric, it will still build ICE vehicles in China for the Chinese market. It is also worth noting that the automaker may apply this tactic in other markets as well, for instance, it may also keep selling ICE cars in the US (and other markets where ICE will still be in demand) after 2033.
And in case you were wondering what the last global gas-burning Audi will be, well, there is a strong chance it will be the next-gen Q8, which is set to launch in 2026. Naturally, Audi will also offer a fully-electric Q8 E-Tron too.