VW Talks Future Tech: Plug-Ins, Natural Gas, 10-Speed Transmissions

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Volkswagen chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn covered virtually every area of green technology in his talk at the recent Vienna Motor Symposium.

Plug-in cars, natural gas vehicles, diesels and a new ten-speed dual-clutch transmission were all discussed, pointing to a bright future for Volkswagen's future vehicles.

Winterkorn emphasized that several different techologies will be used to reach future emissions and fuel economy targets, and Volkswagen's own intention is to bring the carbon dioxide emissions of its European fleet down to as low as 95 g/km by 2020.

For comparison, that's fleet-wide emissions lower than that of the company's current range of 1.6-liter turbodiesel vehicles sold in Europe.

Electric cars are expected to be part of that mix, though the VW chairman didn't note them directly.

Instead, he highlighted the importance of a technology the group is beginning to take more seriously--plug-in hybrids.

The ease by which new cars can be produced on VW's new modular platforms means plug-ins will spread rapidly throughout the group's models.

“Over the coming years we will electrify all vehicle classes in this way and help electrically powered motoring to make the breakthrough,” said Winterkorn.

Most of VW's plug-ins will feature an electric range of around 30 miles. Two of the group's more upmarket models, the Audi A3 e-tron and Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid, will be first to debut the technology. VW says the Golf, Passat, Audi A6 and Porsche Cayenne will all follow with similar systems.

Diesel will remain part of the company's plans, offering increasingly impressive economy while emissions tumble all the time.

Variable valve timing, high-pressure injection and an 'e-booster' electric turbocharger will all contribute to 134 horsepower-per-liter outputs, plus--one expects--more usable torque and better gas mileage.

Natural gas is also on VW's radar, first demonstrated by the eco-Up, based on the company's smallest vehicle. At 79 g/km of CO2 it's the cleanest and most economical natural gas car on the market, and it'll be joined by a Golf TGI BlueMotion and Audi A3 g-tron--albeit unconfirmed for the U.S.

“The gas engine is environmentally friendly, economical and suitable for everyday use. The technology is fully developed and the vehicles are already on the market," added Winterkorn.

He also announced that VW has started development of a new ten-speed version of its DSG dual-clutch transmission.

Like other multi-speed units announced recently, the new DSG should enhance both performance and economy wherever it's installed--while allowing drivers the same fingertip control and quick shifts as previous 6- and 7-speed units.

The eclectic mix of technologies certainly shows VW isn't falling behind in its pursuit of cleaner vehicles--and they should continue getting better to drive, too.


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Comments (6)
  1. I wonder how big and heavy a 10-speed transmission will be.

  2. 10 speed, that is impressive. Of course EVs only need one.

    I know the official narrative is that the ICE is supposed to be with us for many decades to come but the escalating cost and complexity involved in keeping the thing emission/mpg standard compliant tells a different story.

    There is a reason VW is also into plug-ins these days.

  3. Yes, EV's only need a single reduction gear - or direct drive with no gears at all!


  4. 'Volkswagen's own intention is to bring the carbon dioxide emissions of its European fleet down to as low as 95 g/km by 2020.'
    I don't think this is VW's intention. It is a mandate recently approved by the European Commision, so there's really no other way for VW or any other car manufacturer trying to sell cars on the other side of the Atlantic.

  5. VW is finally embracing plugins. But still no talks of BEVs...

  6. I fail to see the advantage of a ten speed automatic over a CVT like my Prius has. Can you imagine what happens when the transmission fails and the car is out of warranty? Given what a transmission shop charges to overhaul a common four speed automatic, I'd junk the car if the price went up in a linear fashion compared to the number of gears.

    {I've never seen a transmission shop repair a malfunctioning transmission, they always tell you it has to be overhauled.}

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