ITS to Showcase Heavy-Duty Plug-in Hybrid Retrofit at Sydney Truck Show
California Air Resources Board Releases GHG Emissions Reduction Plan

Volkswagen Unveils PHEV Prototype at Launch of German Government PHEV Fleet Project

The Golf TwinDrive PHEV.

Volkswagen chairman and CEO Prof. Martin Winterkorn and German Federal Environment Minister (Bundesumweltminister) Sigmar Gabriel introduced a prototype VW plug-in hybrid electric vehicle—the Golf TwinDrive—at the launch of a four-year PHEV fleet and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) demonstration project supported by the German Federal Government.

Eight German alliance partners are participating in the “Fleet test: electric drive vehicles” (“Flottenversuch Elektromobilität”). Volkswagen AG is leading the project, with E.ON (energy provider) and LTC/GAIA and Evonik/Li-Tec (lithium-ion battery providers) as principal partners. Also contributing from the research side are Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, Heidelberg Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (Ifeu), the German Center for Aerospace Technology (DLR), and the Westphalian Wilhelms University at Münster.

TwinDrive under the hood. Click to enlarge.

The project will demonstrate the use of electricity generated by renewable energy such as wind and solar for powering up to 20 PHEVs in a fleet trial under real-world conditions. The project will also evaluate the use of various vehicle-to-grid (V2G) methods of integrating these vehicles into the electric power grid for stabilization purposes.

At the present time the automobile is unthinkable without a highly efficient diesel or gasoline engine. The future however, and that is certain, will belong to the electric motors fueled by the wall power plug. On this way to the future, our innovative motors (TDI/TSI) combined with electric motors and highly efficient battery systems create advanced propulsion systems.

In the framework of the fleet test, we will be deploying up to twenty vehicles with the newly developed drive concept. Different than today’s hybrid vehicles, it should be emphasized that TwinDrive—and this is decisive—enables long ranges in the city in electric mode. While the E-motor on a typical hybrid model just supplements the combustion engine, the exact opposite is true on the TwinDrive: here the diesel or gasoline engine supplements the E-motor.

“In the framework of “Fleet test: electric drive vehicles”, Volkswagen will be investing double-digit millions in advanced development of this technology.

—Prof. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG

On a typical commuting route of 100 km (62 miles), the Golf TwinDrive consumes 8 kWh of electricity and 2.5 liters of fuel. Together, the electric motor and engine provide output of up to 130 kW (174 hp).

Lithium Technology Corporation’s (LTC) German subsidiary, GAIA Akkumulatorenwerke GmbH (GAIA), will deliver a total of seven lithium-ion battery packs based on iron phosphate cathode chemistry with energy capacity of about 12kWh for the project.

In 2006, LTC said that it was developing, in conjunction with a then-unnamed automaker (VW), a 12 kWh Li-ion battery system that should support a plug-in hybrid application in a four-passenger vehicle. (Earlier post.)

This fleet test can make a contribution toward unifying mobility and climate protection in an entirely novel way. That is because it is only through close cooperation of partners from the automotive, battery and energy producing industries that we will be able to utilize electrical power obtained from renewable sources in personal transportation with very high efficiency.

—Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel



I get 8kWh at .08 = $.64 and 2.5 liters is .6604 gallons at $4.20 = $2.77. So .64 + 2.77 is $3.41 to go 62 miles. The current Prius or TDI costs roughly $5.79 to travel the same distance.

The most fuel efficient cars we have = .093 cents per mile.
The Golf Twin Drive PHEV = .055 cents per mile.


Big difference between the Golf Twin drive and the Prius:

The Prius is for sale (and has been for the past 10 years), the Golf is vaporware, and will end up abandoneware in 2 years time, end of story.


"Our tax incentives ought to be based not on whether a car is a hybrid, but whether a car is fuel efficient" an elected representative is quoted as saying recently. I respectfully suggest our representatives consider the many ways hybrids prove to be much, much more than merely a fuel efficient car, and deserving of subsidy more than most people realize.

The next generation "plug-in" hybrids are finally receiving some credit, but not nearly enough. Sure, plug-in Pruis hybrids readily increase mileage to 100mpg, but this mileage gain is not their only benefit nor main advantage.

The plug-in hybrid adds an extra battery pack mounted low on the frame which can improve stability and handling, especially important for top-heavy, roll-prone SUVs, and for any car as well. The extra battery pack need not be lightweight lithium-ion. The somewhat heavier (but perfected) NiMh battery technology thus takes advantage of its weight. Hybrids have other safety factors -- regenerative braking and stable accelleration. Compact, lightweight, high fuel economy cars offer no such advantage and do not similarly merit subsidy. These safety factors are worthy of legislative appeal.

Following on the heals of plug-in hybrid technology is "V2G" (vehicle to grid), whereby the batteries are not only recharged, they may act as a household back-up power supply, invaluable in an emergency or grid failure. The batteries can store electricity during periods when main utility generators produce a surplus, and they're a perfect technological match with rooftop solar photovoltiac panels.

Believe it or not, these AMAZING advantages and benefits of plug-in hybrids are not at the top of the longer list. Development of the plug-in hybrid is indeed an Apollo Project.



I think the handwriting is on the wall. @ $4 plus gas prices, all the car companies will need hybrids or they will be left to dye.


Strange how they equate hybrid with what the Japanese have produced and now that they are being driven in the same direction, they now have to rebrand their idea as a twindrive after downplaying hybrid for diesels for years.

Everyone tries to market their idea as some unique thing when it's not. This is a series hybrid. The idea is no different than the Volt, which tries to brand itself as something different as well. They are all basically electric cars with some type of conventional range extender with the power primaily (hopefully) coming from the grid.

That being said, I hope them well in their endevours and hope that it makes it to the market soon along with all the other PHEV's they are trying to create.


A transportation based SMES storage system would be the ultimate V2G system.


[quote]On a typical commuting route of 100 km (62 miles), the Golf TwinDrive consumes 8 kWh of electricity and 2.5 liters of fuel. Together, the electric motor and engine provide output of up to 130 kW (174 hp)[/quote]

BOUT ****ing time that they offered numbers like these rather than (this golf got 170 mpg!)

hm although i expected better numbers...


“Flottenversuch Elektromobilität” ... I find the ability of German speakers to take little words, put them together and call them a new word (5 miles long) to be endlessly amusing (I know, small things ...). Think how big the pages of a German dictionary must be.


Wells, are you serious. Do you seriously think that plug in hybrids are deserving of a subsidy because their heavy and low-mounted batteries lower the cars' center of gravity? This can be done in a number of ways and most regular cars don't need their center of gravity lowered any more. As for lowering the center of gravity of an SUV, here's an idea: buy a station wagon. And using the car as a generator for one's home in a blackout? There's nothing stopping anybody from installing a generator in their home.

I'd like to know the size of the trunk on this car. Hybrids and particularly plug-in hybrids have small trunks thanks to large battery packs. I don't know what the point of a long distance car is if has a very small trunk. Hence, the continued desirability of diesel. I actually wonder if two cars, electric for commuting and diesel for long distance/larger loads, the latter perhaps being a rental when needed, wouldn't be a better alternative.


"This is a series hybrid."
Where does the text say it is a series hybrid?
"Together, the electric motor and engine provide output of..." - This sounds more like combined (power-split) hybrid to me.

Well, you'd need very low temperatures (20K?). Therefore you need cooling.
AFAIK, when the storage is too small you need more energy for cooling than you can store in the system. e.g.: IIRC, you need round about 10% of the stored energy of a 1MWh SMES for cooling.
The capacity of a SMES for a car would be a lot smaller. So, I don't think it's a viable option.


VW has woken up and smelled the coffee.

But now their going to spend 4 years on a demo! When the demo finishes Volts and Priuses will have been on sale for 2 years. Nissan / Renault will have BEVs.

What is VW playing at?


VW has woken up and smelled the coffee.

But now their going to spend 4 years on a demo! When the demo finishes Volts and Priuses will have been on sale for 2 years. Nissan / Renault will have BEVs.

What is VW playing at?


"What is VW playing at?" ... thinking very much restricted to the current paradigm, that's what. They were so obsessed by squeezing the last drop out of diesel (and there is still room there) that they didn't look beyond the world of ICE. Now they will pay the price by being late to the EV party. The one bright spot is that they look to be the first major OEM to seriously implement V2G which could put them back in the game if they can implement this ahead of other major car companies.


I don't know anywhere where the typical commuting route is 100km. I find this bizarre coming from Germany which is a relatively compact country. There will always be a few maniacs that do massive commutes but studies keep showing that the most people will put up with for any length of time is one hour per day.

That's a tangent. As to the main point. Fair enough to be sceptical but at least VW has the runs on the board when it come to energy efficient vehicles. We might actually see a market product in a few years.


Peter, I am serious, but I won't argue the matter with you. Since you've made an arrogant dismissal of my viewpoint, so too must I dismiss yours. Which car gets better mileage: a Chevy Suburban or a Honda Insight? It's the Chevy Suburban, a roll-prone SUV that could improve stability by reducing its center-of-gravity. It takes 5 Honda Insights to transport the same number of people as 1 Suburban. You like diesel? Then pair it to a hybrid drivetrain and further improve mileage and reduce emissions. Ford and GM produced hybrid 4-door sedan prototypes in the mid-90's. Both used turbo-charged diesel engines and achieved 70 and 80mpg respectively. BURNNN!!!

Justin VP

I am glad that VW will take 4 years to get a hybrid to market. VW is excellent at mechanical engineering, but their electrical track record is poor. They can't even put out a car with a reliable electric system (locks, windows, radios), so I'd guess that a full-blown hybrid implementation would have lots of problems.

Let the Japanese and Americans do it first so that the public has confidence in hybrids and full-on EVs. After that, VW producing a car with too many electric drive service issues won't damage the market for electrified vehicles.


Justin VP, how can you be so cruel (even if it is true). This all goes back to the days when Lucas Industries provided most auto electrical parts, particularly the early headlights called "King of the Road". And so Joseph Lucas became known as the Prince of Darkness.
Wells, for your own sake, don’t touch a keyboard until the effects wear off. Whatever you do, don’t add any ballast to your SUV to equal the batteries and motors of a hybrid.
Actually non-hybrids should get a 10% handicap to qualify for the HOV lane. They have less weight and material consumption. With all that extra weight; it’s a wonder hybrids do better than a TDI. And no wonder they cost more than they can ever save (Ohooo heresy).



Remember that VW/Audi already, 10 years ago, had a working PHEV for sale and operating on the public roads (the Audi Duo).

It didn't take off last time due to stupid battery choice (lead acid!) and cheap gasoline, but it certainly will this time.


Wells, I have no problem with diesel-hybrids. I think they would be great.

So, the Suburban can hold more people and stuff than an Insight. I think everyone here already knew that. Unfortunately many people who own a Suburban use it for commuting with no passengers. I was visiting a friend near Charlotte a few months ago. Her neighbor had two Suburbans. The mother is a stay at home Mom and hauls all the kids around. There are only two kids, so right there, even her Suburban is far larger than necessary. The guy commutes to work alone is his Suburban. Why can't he drive an Insight or take the train? BTW, most Suburbans only seat 8 people, that's 4 Insights, not 5. And a Sprinter holds 10 people and is way more fuel efficient than a Suburban. In Europe, there are alternatives that seat 7-9 people and are even more efficient than a Sprinter, such as a Renault Espace 2.0D or Renault Trafic 2.0D.

I'm sorry you think my dismissal of your viewpoint was "arrogant", but we have safety standards for cars and trucks. If you don't think they are strict enough, advocate for stricter ones. Just like I don't think we should subsidize plug in hybrids over other similarly fuel efficient vehicles, I don't think we should subsidize plug in hybrids over other vehicles with similarly low centers of gravity. So, rather than an arrogant dismissal, I have considered your viewpoint and fail to see the logic.


The article says: "Volkswagen will be investing double-digit millions in advanced development of this technology."

A commitment of as little as $10M Euro. And V2G requires and entirely new infrastructure on the household/business side. Nice talk - little action.

Are we forgeting that the humble Auris/Yaris 1.4 D4D outsels the prius 10-1 in Europe... horses for courses guys, horses for courses.


The logic of a subsidy, Peter, is the public benefit. If accidents can be prevented and lives saved, the person who invests in the more expensive plug-in hybrid technology merits a tax break for the eventual, even if only statistical or hypothetical, benefit. Plus, there are a host of technological advancements that go along with the safety benefit. Capitalism and the free market are progress killers. Wall Street advisors concur: saving civilization and the planet from destruction is too expensive.


Which car gets better mileage: a Chevy Suburban or a Honda Insight? It's the Chevy Suburban, a roll-prone SUV that could improve stability by reducing its center-of-gravity. It takes 5 Honda Insights to transport the same number of people as 1 Suburban.

Wells, you are living in a fairy land where people love each other and all drive cars that are sized to their needs.

stas peterson

The comment on the Suburban is all the more clear when the talk turns to "mass transit". Conventioanal wisdom is that its efficent. But it is nothing og the sort. Bus fleets a average from 1.5 to 1.9 mpg. How many passengers does a bus have to carry just to break even? And that icludes the portion of the bus route when a few or no passengers reamain, except the driver. The Surbaban goes no whwere if there is not a single paying passenger who want to gio somewher. It does circle around and burn fuel, but the bus does that frequently. We all see buses wearily going about their assigned route with driver and nary a soul aboard.

It is easy to show that a bus must contain at least 17 passengers on every inch of its route, just to break even, on the fuel costs and including the capital cost differnces for a bus versus a car.

How many buses, except express commuters to and fro park & rides lots, do that? None. So riding mass transit is fuelish.

Add the drivers salary in too, and it is easy to see why private companies gave up, long ago.

Energy Crisis #2

If plug-In vehicles get their electricity from the grid and the grid is 30% efficient in delivering energy from the coal mine to the socket, and coal-electric is the largest single source of CO2 production in the world, then how can electric vehicles be considered "sustainable"?

This discussion has to shift its focus to energy production/delivery/comsumption as a combined issue. Electric vehicles will succeed (and our control of global warming) when PV and Wind electric also become successful in the market and are integrated into the grid

The comments to this entry are closed.