Volkswagen (VW) has delayed its rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) in South Africa due to the global pandemic. While its flagship ID.3 is available in other countries, VW South Africa will hold off on the launch for now. In fact, VWSA is likely to diverge from the global brand’s plans for electrification and carry on producing combustion engines for the next 30 years.

In an interview with a German publication, Muenchner Merkur, VW’s head of sales, Klaus Zellmer, confirmed that the vehicle brand will discontinue combustion engines in Europe after 2035. However, this reality for South Africa may be delayed until at least 2050. Hybrid engines may form a larger section of local sales, but full electrification is not yet on the cards for Africa.

VW is a direct customer of Formex Industries and our partnership has grown from strength to strength. The automotive components and assemblies manufactured by Formex are used on modern VW vehicles, whether sold locally or overseas. Formex is set to be a key component manufacturer for over 1-million VW vehicles over the next seven years.

VW engine

VW South Africa will still produce combustion engines

While the European division of VW has set a hard deadline for electrification, the African facilities are on a different timeline. Zellmer indicated a more long-term strategy for Africa and its local markets, which means that South Africa is likely to still have combustion engine choices for another three decades.

VW has committed to a carbon-zero goal in Africa by 2050. Petrol and diesel engines will be phased out by that time, but many other vehicle brands in Africa may already be offering electric alternatives. VW has confirmed that hybridisation will form a larger share of its offerings in Africa before 2050, so environmentally-friendly options will be offered to consumers.

The challenge will lie in keeping combustion engines current, in terms of software and technology, when the global brand has long since moved on to EVs. This timeline may be reduced if the local uptake of EVs is well-received in Africa, but right now it is a more realistic goal.


Formex Industries is a metal forming and assembly company that supplies a variety of complex products to the local automotive industry and the export market. The company is based in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropole, South Africa’s foremost region for automotive manufacturing and export.

Formex is a supplier with 69% black ownership, of which 37% are black women. The company is owned by Deneb Investments Limited – a subsidiary of Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited (HCI) – one of South Africa’s biggest true B-BBEE companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

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