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Volkswagen to introduce Passat Plug-in hybrid “soon”; Group electrifying more than 40 more models over next few years

In remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show, Volkswagen Group Chairman of the Board of Management Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said that a plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat would join the Group’s range of low-CO2 vehicles “soon.”

In his remarks, Winterkorn noted that Group research and development expenditure rose by 15% last year to the record value of €10.2 billion (US $14 billion), with the “lion’s share going to green technologies.” Winterkorn said that the Group was reinforcing its objective to become the world’s leading automaker, also in ecological terms, by 2018.

Customers can currently choose between 54 model variants from Volkswagen Group brands that emit less than 100 grams CO2/km, with 324 model variants below 120 grams.

The range includes “3-liter cars” (i.e., cars with fuel consumption in the range of 3.x liters/100 km) such as the Golf TDI BlueMotion (3.2 l/100 km combine) or the Audi A3 TDI ultra (3.2 l/100 km combined) as well as “3-euro cars” such as the eco up! (2.9 kg CNG/100 km), which can travel 100 kilometers for about three euros (US$4.12).

He said that the plug-in hybrids Golf GTE (1.5 l/100 km) and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (1.5 l/100 km) were now being added to the range of electric vehicles from the e-up! (11.7 kWh/100 km) to the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid (3.1 l/100km).

Further high-efficiency models such as the Audi A8, A6 and Q7 or the plug-in hybrid version of the Volkswagen Passat are to follow soon. Because this technology has a future.

—Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn

The Group’s modular strategy in production—i.e., the use of the modular Baukästen (assembly kits such as the MQB, MLB or MSB, earlier post)—means that it will be possible to electrify more than 40 models over the next few years, Winterkorn said.

Our modular toolkits place us in a position to develop and build our cars faster, more flexibly and more economically than in the past. We can offer even greater variety—as well as producing niche models in a profitable way. Our toolkits also mean that we can offer all our innovations and powertrains in all segments and markets within a very short space of time.

—Martin Winterkorn

Winterkorn also announced that Volkswagen would consistently expand its sustainability program, with life cycle assessments to be produced for more vehicles, in line with the life cycle engineering approach.

We are not satisfied with just making eco-friendly cars at eco-friendly plants. We conceive and shape mobility in holistic terms. From power generation, through development, production, sale and operation to the recycling stage. With an environmental strategy that is firmly anchored and measurable with respect to all the brands and regions of the Volkswagen Group.

—Martin Winterkorn

The environmental strategy of the Group is being implemented in a binding, measurable way in all relevant business areas along the value stream. The high sustainability requirements of the Group are now also a firm component of contracts with suppliers. Volkswagen is also the first German automaker to have joined the Clean Shipping Network in order to analyze and reduce the environmental impact of marine transport. Another example is energy efficiency advice for all Volkswagen brand dealerships in Germany, with a view to reducing the CO2 emissions of partner companies by 25% by 2020.



This is great stuff as long as the PHEVs don't cost too much extra.I assume they are relying on CO2 based taxation (and urban access rules) to make the sums come out.

The Passat is a good place to start as it is quite a large car and would have the space for the extra gear required to make a PHEV.

I would hope they make several variants with different battery capacities.

This is an important announcement as VW is such a huge company - it will have a big effect on European motoring for the next 20 years.

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It is easy to see what VW does. They are making a modular platform for nearly all of its vehicle types so that each of these vehicle types can be build on the same assembly line with either gasoline engine, diesel, bi-fuel natural gas/gasoline, PHEV drive-train or short-range BEV. That is fine as VW can bring down the costs using the same platform and the battery cells that are used for the short range BEVs and PHEVs across all platforms might be identical, (with high power and long cycle life) in order to achieve volume and cost reduction there as well.

What is missing in VWs strategy is three long-range BEV platforms for small, midsize and large vehicle types all using the same battery cell (with high volumetric energy density and short cycle life (read a Panasonic 18650 cell)). That is of cause Tesla's skateboard platform solution where the engine, transmission and cooling/heat pump system resides in the floor between the two pair of wheels and the battery pack is a large flat rectangle spanning the entire floor between the four wheels. This design is unsuited for PHEVs, gasser etc. but it is perfect for a long-range BEVs because it makes a car with more luggage space than any gasser, etc can achieve. It also makes a car with a lower gravity point than any gasser car can achieve. Finally, electric vehicles can exploit that high power electric engines are inexpensive to produce. In mass production a 225kW electric motor/transmission/cooling system will cost less than a 80kW system for a gasser. Moreover, unlike the engines in vehicle gassers electric engine are more efficient the more power they have. You can even do four wheel drive in a BEV that are just as efficient as a two wheel drive BEV. This is impossible for gassers.

The future of the automobile is therefore long-range battery electric because it produces the ultimate car that has better luggage space, better handling, more power, less noise and vibration than possible for any gasser or PHEV. BEVs can also be charged at home at one third of the cost of a gasser per mile driven. However, this future of the automobile is being delayed by traditional car makes because they focus on developing traditional platforms for gassers and PHEVs and because of their spending on fruitless fuel cell vehicle research. The sooner more car makers start making the long-range BEVs that Tesla does the sooner we will get the price down for the type of battery cells that are needed for that long-range battery electric platform, namely, battery cells that excel in volumetric energy density.


Well said Henrik.

Wonder if majors like VW will eventually design and mass produce two type of units, one standard design for ICEVs and PHEVs and a Tesla like light weight unit for extended range BEVs?

Next generation battery packs will push Tesla like EVs close to and even over 500 Km range by 2017 or so?

Wonder how long will Tesla offer free quick recharges?

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Tesla will support free charging at the supercharging stations forever because it is not that costly as long as Tesla does not build these chargers closer than 150 miles apart which is within the range of all of the vehicles they will ever sell.

The average Tesla owner will probably only use the supercharger 100 times during the 16 years of the life of the vehicle. The rest is home charging or flying. These 100 times will cost Tesla 60kwh*100*0.1 USD or 600 USD. Also with 150 miles apart Tesla only need about 250 stations in North America, 120 stations in Europe and 250 stations in Asia to cover it all. That is 620 stations costing 0.3 million USD a peace or about 200 million USD. Split that on 100k Model S and you get 2000 USD per vehicle. So you see this is very doable.

Even people living close to a supercharger station will not drive there to use it in order to spend 30 minutes to get 6 USD worth of free electricity as that does not make sense even on a minimum wage which Tesla owners are not subject to. You only use it if it is absolutely necessary to do what you have to do. The supercharger network has real practical value but its marketing value is more important because it sounds truly incredibly good with free long distance driving for life. No such offer will ever be possible for gassers and the phantom fuel cell vehicles.


If a small starting firm can install quick charge and supply free energy in USA, EU and Asia, why so many posters claim that the richest countries cannot collectively to even more?

You beat me to it, Henrik. That is the formula, except that the supercharge sessions are actually only 30-40kWh on average. (data from Tesla Supercharger dashboard in Hawthorne). Tesla is way ahead on the net income for "free" Supercharging.

Although you're right that most people living close to a supercharger station will not drive there to use it, believe it or not, there is a small but persistent pool of people who do. I don't think this is so much to save the $6, it's more a matter of convenience that a fast charge to full range represents.

Tesla has already recognized the need for fast charge public infrastructure in metro areas, and we'll see some solutions later this year.

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@EV insider thank you for that info. I guess that at some point Tesla should stop this unintended behavior of people using superchargers close to their home address by making it explicit in the purchasing contract of the Tesla that free supercharging for life only apply for superchargers that are over say 70 miles away from your home address. However, if you say that the net income from free supercharging is still sound and only a small number of people exhibit this unintended behavior then perhaps for marketing purposes it is best to do nothing to stop this behavior as it does not matter much. Nevertheless, I think I would put the limitation of charger use in the contract right now but not currently enforce it. That would prevent costly future court cases from Tesla owners suing Tesla the day Tesla find out they have to make that limitation in order to ensure healthy net profits from free supercharging. Better be safe than sorry.

@Harvey don't worry about blog posts. Elon Musk is probably the entrepreneurial genius of our century and the rest of us are just morons grasping to understand the world we live in. The good thing is we only need a few clever people to steer this world in the right direction making it a better place for most of us. Tesla's strategy is brilliant and it will be recognized as such the more cars they sell. Eventually other automakers will copy Tesla's strategy or they will perish in the competition.


@Henrik ..hope you're right about Tesla's commercial approach and about copy cats so that we get more and more mass produced extended range BEVs soon.

Eventually, something will have to be done to replace Fed and States fuel taxes. A distance travelled fee multiplied by vehicle weight or an equivalent e-energy tax would do. The latter may be easier to collect in most cases except for people equipped with their own solar panels where a minimum average fee would apply? The first method could be automated and appropriate charges could be added to your credit card daily, weekly or on regular basis? People driving vehicles with unpaid road usage fees could loose their vehicle.



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