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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



Critta wrote: "I don't know anywhere where the typical commuting route is 100km."

Try living in the Detroit, Michigan area - a 60+ mile round trip commute is common, especially if you want to live outside of the ghetto but your office is in or near downtown. Same for Los Angeles (ie. barrios instead of ghettos). Actually, there are a lot of places in America where big commutes get you outside of the daily crime and grime of the city.

"The future however, and that is certain, will belong to the electric motors fueled by the wall power plug."
Prof. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG

Well, one more car company has seen the BEV future.


The promotional video for the Golf Twin Drive appears to show a 4 cylinder diesel engine with an electric motor-generator on the end of the drive shaft after the clutch.

I would have expected Volkswagen to use the 3 cylinder diesel engine used in the new Polo eco diesel.

Downsizing from 4 to 3 cylinders would be balanced by the power and weight of the electric motor.

A PHEV needs a more powerful electric motor than a mild hyrid to enable electric only mode up to 40 mph.

A diesel engine with smog reduction is heavy and expensive, so to be cost-effective a PHEV diesel needs to downsize to a small 3 cylinder engine and Volkswagen have the ideal Polo engine available to use in a Golf PHEV.

Official EU policy is plagued by old policies contradicting current policy.
For example, 1950's policy to harmonize taxes led to a daft policy that vehicle purchase tax should be phased out to avoid market distortions (rather than harmonized at agreed percentages).
New EU policy is that car purchase tax should be proportional to GHG emissions.
Some European governments have started to implement this policy with car purchase tax ranging from -10% to +40%.
Unfortunately the old EU policy to phase out car purchase tax has still not been updated even 10 years after Kyoto, so some governments have gone in the opposite direction. For example in Britain, car purchase tax was reduced from 10% to 5% then 0% and replaced by the road fuel tax escalator policy. This has resulted in a vast increase in the number of morbidly obese urban assault vehicles.

Based on the "let the polluter pay" principle, the external costs of gas guzzlers should be borne directly by the prosperous citizens who buy them, not out of general taxation.
Likewise, taxation should shift from general sales taxes like VAT to taxes on GHG emissions and green tax breaks.

The wheels of government policy turn painfully slowly, but once car taxes are proportional to GHG emissions,
the high capital cost of PHEVs and BEVs will be partly offset by the taxation differential.
This will increase the market for HEVs and create a market for PHEVs and BEVs.

Balázs Boros

Non of the articles around the topic mentions the critical option, if the driver is able to manually switch off the diesel/benzin engine, and to drive the car by purely electric power. Nowadays the batteries are having enough capacity and electric engines are efficient enough to let an electric car covering min. 30 miles with one fill, which is normally enough within a city for a full day, or a one-way trip if you commute - that is, you don't need gas at all most of the time.
In such cases the only emission is when electricity generated by power suppliers.
Why is this parameter so much forgotten?
Will the Volkswagen PHEV have this option?


A fleet of natural gas plug in hybrid vehicles would also provide a network of backup electricity generators and cogeneration plants. Lots of thermal energy is wasted by steam power plants (30-45% efficient, 50-60% for CCGT) and combustion engines (about 20% efficient over typical load profile)

Using an ICE as an 85% efficient congeneration plant (35% electrical 50% heat) to provide district heating and hotwater and sell peak electricity to the grid and then be able to charge overnight.

1 million cars would have an effective installed capacity of 50GW (assuming 50kW per vehicle) running of biomethane, they would help support a fleet of wind and solar power plants

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