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.)