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VW, Audi, Porsche Lay Out Plug-In Hybrid Plans: Paris Auto Show

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Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept live photos, 2012 Paris Auto Show

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept live photos, 2012 Paris Auto Show

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After a brisk run-through of new models from all of its many brands, Volkswagen Group closed last night's preview event before the Paris Auto Show with a few words on its plans for plug-in hybrids.

"Many companies are reducing their plans for electric vehicles," said VW Group chief Martin Winterkorn.

"We at Volkswagen don't have to do that; we have always looked rationally at this transition."

"The new powertrain [that is] taking shape as very promising," he said, "is the best of electric and engine power: the plug-in hybrid."

VW Group believes this gives the best flexibilities for drivers and families who need the range of gasoline vehicles to drive on holiday, but want zero-emission capability for a range up to 50 kilometers (31 miles).

"On holiday, there is no alternative to the internal combustion engine," Winterkorn said.

To provide green vehicles that are "economical, refined, comfortable, and flexible," the plug-in hybrid system offers the best blend of capabilities.

"This technology is not pie in the sky," Winterkorn said confidently. "It will soon become a reality on our roads," and he promised that the executives and reporters in the audience would soon be driving them.

Then he dove into a detailed listing of the plug-in cars that would emerge from the group's Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche brands over the next few years.

The list he gave consists of cars that will be introduced in European markets; VW Group's U.S. operations will have to decide which, if any, of them to offer.

Indeed, the first hybrid in a volume segment will be the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, which will arrive in U.S. dealerships later this year.

For Europe, the Audi R8 e-tron and Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf are already in the works and will hit the roads this year or next, Winterkorn said.

Next year, he continued, will come a Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid--using the system shown in the Panamera Sport Turismo Concept first unveiled at his event--and also the limited-edition Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid sports car.

Then for 2014, the group will show plug-in hybrid versions of the following vehicles:

  • Audi: A3, Q7
  • Porsche: Cayenne
  • Volkswagen: Golf, Passat

And the Audi A5 and A6 will follow shortly thereafter, plus "numerous other derivatives" to fill out the rest of the decade.

"We will take this pioneering technology out of its niche," Winterkorn concluded, "and make it accessible to as many people as possible."

As for the U.S. market, further details emerged during a technical roundtable this morning with Ulrich Hackenberg, head of development for the Volkswagen brand.

Volkswagen Golf Blue e-Motion

Volkswagen Golf Blue e-Motion

Enlarge Photo

The one plug-in vehicle already confirmed is the Volkswagen e-Golf, a battery electric version of the new Golf that was just introduced this month.

Prototypes of the e-Golf have been tested, using the current generation of Golf, for several years now.

The Volkswagen e-Golf will arrive in the U.S. in 2014, most likely as a 2015 model-year car to comply with an expanded set of California Zero-Emission Vehicle requirements.

Asked whether VW would attempt to sell high volumes of the e-Golf in the States--or whether it was merely a "compliance car" to meet the California rules--Hackenberg said, in effect, "Well, we'll see if people want to buy them."

The Audi A3 e-tron, a plug-in hybrid version of the same hybrid system to be used in the upcoming Jetta Hybrid, may be Audi's first foray into selling plug-in vehicles in the States.

No firm plans for that vehicle have been announced, although dozens of prototypes are now being tested by Audi employees across the country.

The group's MQB architecture--which underlies the new VW Golf, the new Audi A3, and a large number of vehicles to come--has been designed to accommodate a wide range of different energy sources and motive power.

Those include gasoline, diesel, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid models, as well as battery electric and, perhaps surprisingly, even hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains.

Volkswagen provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to cover the Paris Auto Show.

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Comments (17)
  1. The Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept may have just taken the ugly out of the Panamera.

    It is great to hear of all these plans for plug-ins, but it is clearly a "wait and see" approach.
     
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  2. If Porsche does bring this better looking Panamera to market with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, I wonder what effect it will have on Fisker? It could push Fisker closer to the brink.
     
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  3. It sounds as if the good old boys are sobering :) Interesting talk, not clearly saying EV is the way to go for the future, although they hint at it but taking the pragmatic approach is what I would expect from the Germans.
     
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  4. Did VW just "confirm" the GM approach with the Volt concept instead of pure EV?
     
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  5. @Xialong: I do not believe these VW plug-in hybrids will be Volt-style range-extended electric cars that operate as series hybrids. Instead, they are likely to be Toyota- or Ford-style hybrids, though with one motor instead of two, with a larger grid-chargeable pack.
     
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  6. GM's series hybrid design was / is intended to be a stepping stone to BEV's and FCV's. GM could certainly add a plug to their 2 mode hybrid, but they won't burn cash to tool up for a dead-end tech (even if it would be viable for a decade or two). The series hybrid tech allows GM to tool up for the motors, controllers, charge buffers, alternator-generators, etc. required to propel an electric propulsion vehicle at all speeds, regardless of whether the electricity comes from an ICE, battery or fuel cell.
     
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  7. Sure, I have always said that EREV is the bridge to the BEV future. Since the Volt design is EV first and hybrid later, its gas engine can be easily swapped out for larger battery, Fuel Cell, Diesel...etc. Its main electric motor/battery/controller modules wouldn't have to change at all...

    Its technology will also push for charging network demand and lower cost battery demand. Not to mention the customer education and public awareness.

    IMHO, it is the "Most practical" approach to pure EV in today's environment.
     
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  8. So, isn't that a 180 deg turn. I clearly remembered that VW "president" two year ago "laughed" at GM's Volt idea and said that "nobody" wanted something like that...

    Now, after they see Volt is finally doing well, they started to jump into the game as well?
     
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  9. Actually, it is not a 180 degree turn. I generally agree to your comments very much, but regarding this news item I cannot. Everybody is happy about any success of the Volt. Still, VW already announced their plug-in plans years ago. So they don't "jump into the game" now. The Panamera hybrid is new, but Passat plug-in hybrid, Golf plug-in hybrid, even Polo plug-in hybrid are known to come out for quite some time now. The problem of the Ampera/Volt is its price. 42900 Euro. The e-Golf is probably going to be around 32000 Euro. Which is the price of lots of GTI Golfs, so it's okay. Price for plug-in hybrid Golf is unknown yet, but it will also be way below the 42900 Euro, because it requires even way less expensive kWh than the e-Golf does.
     
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  10. The e-Golf, coming to market next year in Europe, will be a game changer for electrics, at least in Europe. While in the US sedans are more popular, the Golf by far is Europe's most popular car. 484,547 Golfs were sold in Europe in 2011. (By far outselling the #2, VW Polo at 356,490 sales.) There's no US car in the US that was sold as often as the Golf is in Europe. So the e-Golf is like as if the Ford F150, which 390,661 were sold of in 2011 in the US, was going to come out as a BEV next year in the US. So now there's the e-Golf in 2013, the e-Up in 2013, the plug-in-hybrid Golf & Passat in 2014, the plug-in-hybrid Polo in 2015. It's a huge push towards electric traction. Besides Nissan/Renault there's probably no other to offer so much.
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  11. VW's advantage: no need to develop distinct new cars for new traction technology. Using the established models, just different power trains on the same platform, lowers both development and production costs. That's why the MQB architecture is so important. Ca. 60% of common parts across the Golf, Jetta, Polo, Touran,Tiguan etc models (and Audi/Skoda/Seat counterparts) lowers costs so much. (The VW Kassel plant is already set up to spit out 30,000 electric engines in 2013, even more in the years after.) That's why the VW plug-in hybrids will be much cheaper than 42900 Euro. That's what Mr. Winterkorn is talking about, when he says "We will take this pioneering technology out of its niche,and make it accessible to as many people as possible."
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  12. Volt is $42,900 Euro? That is expensive.

    It only cost about $42k here in the US before all the tax incentives...

    If VW can truly bring the Plugin hybrids here for under $30k, you will see me buying one too...
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  13. There are more comments in this thread
  14. Xiaolong, the guy was Johan de Nysschen and he was the President of Audi of America, among other roles. Now he's in charge of Infiniti. Which just killed an EV...
     
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  15. Xiaolong Li wrote:
    "Volt is $42,900 Euro? That is expensive."
    Just a sidenote, with the Euro currency no dollar sign is needed. It's not called the Euro-dollar, it's just the Euro.

    Robok2 is correct, the European Chevrolet Volts (called Vauxhall/Opel Ampera) are even more expensive, according to official MRSP. Germany: 45,900 Euro (=$59,440). France/Italy: 45,500 Euro (=$58,900). Spain: 47,305 Euro (=$61,260). UK: 34,995 GBP (=$56,370). Chevrolet also markets the Chevrolet Volts as such in Europe, but Vauxhall and Opel are the traditional brands. Their derivatives have by far the large part of the sales volume, though the Chevy Volt is offered for circa 1,000Euro less. Chevrolet Volts, though they do exist in Europe, are a very rare sight.
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  16. Xiaolong Li wrote: "[Chevy Volts] only cost about $42k here in the US before all the tax incentives."
    Yes, it's cheaper, but not as much as it might seem. Comparing prices over countrylines might sometimes be misleading. For example in Europe, sales tax is often 20%, but it's already included in all of the prices you see on display in the stores. Same with cars' MSRP. With US MSRP price, sales tax still goes on top of it. So taking 20% sales tax out of Europe's prices, they don't seem so much higher, though still somewhat.

    "If VW can truly bring the Plugin hybrids here for under $30k, you will see me buying one too."
    As seen above, US prices differ. Just because e-Golf might come as 32,000Euro in Europe, doesn't mean will under $30k in US.
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  17. robok2 wrote:
    "Xiaolong, the guy was Johan de Nysschen and he was the President of Audi of America[...]"

    Thanks for clearing it up. That 2009 comment was off the mark anyway. The Volt "is a car for idiots"? Couldn't be taken seriously any way one tries to twist it.
    Sure the Volt (and most plug-ins/BEVs) in many cases will financially not make up for the higher price by gas savings alone. There's more to it though. A $30,600 Golf GTI 4-Door Autobahn will not make up any extra costs by gas savings, compared to a $2.5L 4-Door for $19,800. Still the GTI buyers are no idiots. It's more technology that comes with it. Same with the Volt. Some are willing to pay more for the extra technology it offers. 2,500 Volt sales last month show its success.
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