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Report: Volkswagen Changing Strategy for Hybrids

31 January 2007

Germany’s Automobilewoche reports that with the change in Volkswagen’s top management is coming a change in strategy for hybrids.

Martin Winterkorn, who formerly headed the company’s Audi AG unit, became CEO after Bernd Pischetsrieder resigned at the end of 2006. Pischetsrieder had brought in Wolfgang Bernhard from DaimlerChrysler to run the Volkswagen unit. Berhard has now left (as of today), and Winterkorn will personally oversee the VW brand for the time being.

Now, rather than target a mild hybrid Jetta for sale into the California market in 2008 as described by Pischetsrieder, Volkswagen will focus first on a full hybrid Touareg SUV. VW has announced a 50-state compliant (Tier 2 Bin 5) diesel Jetta will go on sale in the US in 2008. (Earlier post.)

The additional cost of the compact hybrid or of a hybrid drivetrain applied in a Touran van didn’t make sense for management, given price-sensitivity of the consumers, and a negligible gain in fuel efficiency compared to a diesel powertrain. VW was exploring the use of the Continental mild hybrid system in those applications. (Earlier post.)

Now, Volkswagen will concentrate on developing a hybrid application of the Touareg (along with Porsche with its Cayenne) for the end of 2008, with Bosch providing the full hybrid system, according to the report. (Earlier post.)

January 31, 2007 in Diesel, Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments


Oh, Christ. Yet another bloated pig competing in an ever shrinking market - put a little green lipstick on it with the hybrid stuff and see if they can sucker consumers one more time.

VW/Audi did have a plug-in hybrid on public roads about ten years ago (the Audi Duo). Maybe they will surprise us again?

It will still be better than the non-hybrid pig.

The real story here imo, is that, like Nissan, VW once was tottaly opposed to hybrids and vowed never to make one, now they seem to be rushing to get something to market.


--Ash

Bloated pigs have all the money...

Sure, reserve full hybrid for the SUV but they could still do an idle start/stop system on the cars. It would be better than nothing and have little cost increase over not having it versus the "green credibility" they get for such an initiative...well, when surveying the average consumer not the people who comment on this blog.

VW is doing this because

(a) it needs to comply with the California ZEV mandate; T2B5 diesel cannot do that

(b) it wants to head off the EU Commission's plans to mandate a 120 g CO2/km fleet average per company by 2012. The voluntary ACEA commitment of 140 g CO2/km - which is unlikely to be kept - applied to the sum total of all cars produced in by ACEA members rather than to each manufacturer individually. It reflects a 25% reduction relative to 1995 levels (e.g. Fiat's target is actually below 140, whereas VW's is actually higher). ACEA completely bungled the PR on this. Now, of course, the French and Italians are in no mood to give their German competitors another opportunity to corner the European market in lucrative high-powered vehicles.

(c) The margins on SUVs are high enough to absorb part of the high cost of a full hybrid system. In terms of bang for buck, mild hybrids do indeed make more sense for the gasoline side of the more competitive C/D segments. Even VW knows there is only so much diesel European refineries can deliver and, that the green lobby will demand NOx levels comparable to T2B5 in the future Euro 6 directive because the technology for it arguably exists. History suggests that public health arguments ultimately trounce economic considerations.

don't forget that an suv that used to get 20 mpg and now gets 30 mpg saves us all way more resources than a sedan that got 40 and now gets 50.

I think VW/Audi have been pretty good as far as fuel efficiency standards go for its diesel motors.

The golf diesel range is capable of 50+ UKmpg, not followed far behind by the Passat.

In fact my Fiancee has a 1997 2.5 litre Audi A6 2.5TDi (140bhp). It gets anywhere between 45 and 50 UKmpg. Excellent for a car of that size and age for that matter. It needs to be with diesel being almost the equivalent $7 per US gallon.

If VW builds it and they will come. Of course not a Toureg that runs on gas. Gas is passe'. It pollutes. Not ethanol, it too pollutes and is not renewable. Honda and Toyota will keep winning until VW getsgets serious about sustainability. How about an affordable all-wheel drive mini-bus that gets 60mpg, emits no EMF's, and runs on something renewable? A people mobile not a look-at-me mobile. Isn't VW the company that designed, built, then stopped building the 1 Liter Car that gets 256mpg.

Randy -

that 1-Liter car was made of carbon fiber etc. It would have been prohibitively expensive to manufacture. It was also small, low to the ground and the two seats were behind each other.

VW also manufactured the Lupo, a 3L/100km diesel subcompact with idle stop. Unfortunately, it was otherwise bare-boned to trim cost, so it did not sell well enough. Perhaps 4-5L/100km is a more reasonable target to shoot for in an affordable but still attractive small car that can be built in high volume.

Randy, Rafael -

The problem with the 3L Lupo is even in Europe is was a hard sell. Too stripped down and driving habits had to change to get the mpg.

Now they offer the Polo BlueMotion that gets nearly the same mpg, better emissions (better than Euro Prius) and still has some creature comforts. They planned on making a BM version of all the vehicles in their line up.

I think if they bring that concept over to the USA, it might sell as a "green" alternative. At least I can hope.

Jason

It's not just that it was "stripped down" It was too expensive for what you got. The stripped down version would have sold MUCH better and probaly have been a sucess had it also had a stripped down PRICE.

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