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Audi disappointingly pumps the brakes on its promised EV rollout: 'We decided to spread it out to not overwhelm the team'

Automakers backing down from EV pledges means fewer electric options for consumers.

Automakers backing down from EV pledges means fewer electric options for consumers.

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With electric vehicles making up 10% of new car sales in 2022 and with America's recent policy changes to encourage more EV sales, it seems like a good time for automakers to pivot to electric. 

Audi had big plans in that arena. But with the arrival of its new CEO, the company has now walked back those promises, Electrek reported.

What happened?

Audi previously announced having 20 new vehicle releases by 2026, 10 of which would have been EVs, Electrek said. The company has also promised to switch to releasing only electric models by 2026 and to phase out combustion engines by 2033.

But recently appointed CEO Gernot Döllner announced a revised schedule that would likely impact these targets. 

"We first looked at what order and density of launches the organization could handle," he told Bloomberg. "In the end, we decided to spread it out to not overwhelm the team and the dealerships."

As Electrek explained, Döllner blamed a supposed "slowdown" in EV sales and a need to "avoid burdening" both manufacturing facilities and dealerships.

Electrek also pointed out that the Volkswagen-owned company is having trouble with the PPE platform, a new EV chassis that Audi relied on for several new EV models. The PPE platform has been delayed due to problems with VW's in-house software unit, Cariad.

In response to all these factors, Audi will focus on combustion and plug-in hybrid models for now, with a few EVs to come in the future, as Electrek noted — rather than the full pivot it initially promised.

Why does the revised schedule matter?

Combustion engines are a huge source of pollution, with passenger cars alone dumping about 3.3 billion tons of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere yearly. That pollution is not only a source of health problems for people and the cause of unpleasant smog in cities; it has also contributed to the accelerated rise in Earth's temperature in recent years.

EVs don't produce air pollution when driven, and they can be charged using non-polluting clean energy. The fewer gas-powered cars we drive, the bigger the dent we can put in planet-warming pollution. Plus, electric cars are cheaper to drive once you've purchased them.

But automakers backing down from EV pledges means fewer electric options for American consumers. It's also part of an ongoing pattern in which big companies get good press for making promises about the environment — then fail to deliver.

What can I do about the bait-and-switch?

If you're in the market for a new car, the best thing you can do is vote with your dollar. EVs have become much more affordable, making them a realistic choice for more people, especially as charging stations multiply across the country.

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