Volkswagen is recalling some examples of the VW Jetta Hybrid sedan for an issue that could literally leave the driver effectively in neutral.
In the issue that potentially affects vehicles from the 2013-2015 model years, hairline cracks can appear within the transmission's mechatronic unit, leading to an internal transmission-oil leak and a decrease in oil pressure. That in turn leads to a situation in which the clutch will fail to engage, resulting in “a sudden loss of drive power.”
Volkswagen says that 2,167 vehicles are potentially involved in the recall but just 1% are estimated to have the defect. Production dates affected by the issue are November 7, 2011 through March 27, 2015.
VW canceled the Jetta Hybrid after the 2016 model year, with total U.S. sales in the vicinity of 9,000 cars over four model years. It's the only hybrid model it’s attempted to widely sell in the U.S.—beyond the even lower-volume Touareg Hybrid.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
The Jetta Hybrid arrived for the 2013 model year and was the most fuel-efficient variant in the Jetta lineup—much more so than the Jetta TDI diesel version. It packaged a 27-hp electric motor and a 150-hp, 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine to VW's 7-speed version of VW's dual-clutch automatic transmission, sometimes called or badged DSG. We found it at the time (and in follow-up drives) to feel far sportier-driving than the Toyota Prius, and it earned 45 mpg combined in EPA ratings.
While the Jetta Hybrid was a limited-availability model, it was also going to be a precursor to a full line of Volkswagen plug-in hybrid models. The automaker’s plans changed after its diesel scandal, and it chose to focus toward the mass-market electric vehicles it's readying (and releasing) today.
Audi followed a similar setup with its A3 E-Tron Sportback plug-in hybrid, which supplemented the system with a much larger battery, a 102-hp motor, and many other upgraded components.
This Jetta Hybrid recall effort is due to start on February 2, 2020. Owners may either contact VW at 800-893-5298 or NHTSA at 800-327-4236.