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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