Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon
Magna providing composite liftgate assembly for BMW i3 EV

Promised VW Passat plug-in hybrid to debut at Paris show; both sedan and wagon

Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

In his remarks before the opening of the Geneva Motora Show in March 2014, 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.” (Earlier post.)

Accordingly, at the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen will introduce the new Passat GTE plug-in hybrid, the Volkswagen brand’s third plug-in hybrid (after the XL1, earlier post and Golf GTE, earlier post) and its first plug-in hybrid offered in both sedan and wagon styles. The Passat GTE leverages the Volkswagen Group’s MQB-based plug-in hybrid powertrain, also seen in the VW Golf GTE and the Audi A3 e-tron. (Earlier post.) The Passat GTE will be launched in the second half of next year in Europe.

Passat GTE wagon. Click to enlarge.   Passat GTE sedan. Click to enlarge.

Based on the new eight-generation Passat (earlier post), the new Passat GTE combines a 1.4-liter TSI engine and electric motor for maximum power output of 218 PS (215 hp, 160 kW) and a driving range of more than 600 miles (965 km), with up to 31 miles (50 km) of that in all-electric mode.

The engine develops 156 PS (115 kW) at 5,000 rpm; the electric motor, powered by a 9.9 kWh Li-ion battery pack, produces 85 kW / 15 PS. The maximum torque of the plug-in hybrid drive system is 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). The NEDC consumption (for hybrid vehicles) is more than 117 mpg US (under 2.0 l/100 km) and 13.0 kWh/100 km; these values equate to CO2 emissions lower than 45 g/km.

Under the hood. Click to enlarge.

The gearbox is the DQ400E six-speed DSG with three clutches (dual clutch plus disengagement clutch) that was specially developed for hybrid use. Whenever possible, the disengagement clutch disengages the TSI from the driven front axle and shuts it off—such as in phases of coasting; in this case, the Passat GTE makes use of the car’s kinetic energy and coasts without any added propulsive power.

Additional components of the hybrid drive include the power electronics (converts DC power from the battery to AC power for the electric motor) and a charger. An electro-mechanical brake servo and an electric air conditioning compressor also ensure optimal and energy-efficient operation of the brakes and air conditioner in “E-Mode”.

The MQB-based Passat GTE accelerates to 62 mph (100 km/h) in less than 8.0 seconds and achieves a top speed of more than 136 mph (219 km/h); in “E-Mode,” 80 mph (129 km/h).

The Passat GTE can be driven in four different modes: “EMode”, “Hybrid”, “Battery Charge” and “GTE”. The driver can always see which mode is active on the multifunction display of the instrument cluster.

Upon starting the car, the Passat GTE is automatically in “E-Mode” (except when the battery is not sufficiently charged or the outside temperature is very low, in which case the TSI takes over immediately). When a minimum charge level of the battery has been reached or when there is very high demand for power, the drive system automatically switches over to the “Hybrid” mode.

In this state, “E-Mode” is deactivated, and the Passat GTE now behaves like a classic full hybrid vehicle that charges the battery regeneratively during deceleration and automatically uses the TSI and/or electric motor, depending on the situation. The charge state of the battery is maintained at a constant level in this mode.

By pressing the “E-Mode” button (to the left of the gear lever), the driver can manually switch to “E-Mode.” This button simultaneously opens a window in the infotainment system, in which the three “E-Mode”, “Hybrid” and “Battery Charge” modes can be directly selected.

In addition to the “E-Mode” and “Hybrid” modes, the driver can set another mode via the infotainment system menu: “Battery Charge”. In this mode, the high-voltage battery is charged during driving. By pressing the “GTE” button (also to the left of the gear lever), the driver can switch to “GTE” mode which activates the sporty nature of the Passat GTE.

In this mode the characteristics of the accelerator pedal, gearbox and steering are made sportier. In connection with optional DCC, the chassis is firmer. The tuning of the TSI is also more performance oriented. In addition, in the “GTE” mode the TSI and electric motor work together to make the full system power and the maximum system torque available.

There are two ways to charge the battery in the Passat GTE via the charging socket in the radiator grille. First: the standard charging cable is plugged into a 230 volt electrical socket (in Europe). The battery is then charged by alternating current (AC) from the mains at a power level of 2.3 kW. From completely flat, it can be fully charged (100% battery charge level) in four hours and 15 minutes.

Volkswagen also offers an optional wall box for a garage or carport which charges at a power level of 3.6 kW. Using this method, the battery is fully charged after only two hours and 30 minutes. There are also public charging stations that charge electric cars at a level of 3.6 kW.

The Passat GTE is an independent equipment line. On the one hand, its standard equipment includes many features also available in other models of the range, either as an option or without extra charge, depending on the equipment version: LED headlights, Driver Alert System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking system, Front Assist including City Emergency Braking function, rain sensor and ParkPilot. On the other hand, as a high-tech flagship, the Passat GTE features several unique elements and equipment upgrades which distinguish it from the rest of the Passat range.

In the upper section of the front end, the Passat GTE can be recognised by a specific chrome radiator grille unit with additional blue line. The front bumper was also redesigned, with distinctive cross panels in the lower air inlet and C-shaped LED daytime running lights.

The “C”-shaped LED daytime running light and the blue line in the radiator grille unit are stylistic devices—blue is the Volkswagen “e-mobility color” and in conjunction with the C-shaped daytime running light, it constitutes an identifying feature of all Volkswagen’s electric and plug-in hybrid models. When viewed from the side, 17-inch “Astana” alloy wheels identify the Passat GTE as a plug-in hybrid.

The interior was likewise fine-tuned for the new drive system. With a menu matrix for the functions and displays related to the drive system, the engineers and interface designers at Volkswagen TE (Technical Development Center) tailored features such as the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system and the instrument cluster (with power meter) for the plug-in hybrid drive.

Click to enlarge.

In addition, the innovative Active Info Display with specific displays will be also available as an option for the Passat GTE. Standard details such as the blue ambient lighting, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel with blue decorative stitching, GTE specific gear knob with blue stitching and seats covered in “Sevilla” cloth with a blue basic structure have also been especially configured to the Passat GTE. Furthermore, the interior was enhanced by the “Waves” design (aluminium look) and “Piano Black” (high-gloss black) as well as a GTE logo in front of the gear shift gate.

The owner of the new Passat GTE can make use of the “CAR-NET e-Remote” app, by which the charging of the battery, for instance, can be started via smartphone. Likewise, all climate control functions can be activated via the smartphone. In addition, information on the vehicle status, state of charge of the battery, recent driving data or last parking position can be queried. It is also possible to check whether the doors are closed and the lights turned off.

The new Passat GTE will be launched with the high resolution 6.5-inch display of the standard “Composition Media” infotainment system. Optional: the “Discover Media” (also with a 6.5-inch display) and “Discover Pro” (with an 8.0-inch display) radio-navigation systems. Both devices feature numerous additional functions in the Passat GTE. They include a “range monitor”, an “energy flow indicator”, “zero-emission statistics”, “e-manager” and – when the optional navigation system is installed – the “360° range” feature.

  • Range monitor: depicts the momentary electric driving range of the Passat GTE; the additional range potential that can be achieved by turning off auxiliary consumers that might be in use is also shown.

  • Energy flow indicator: this indicator utilizes animated graphics to depict the energy flow when accelerating (blue arrows) as well as braking, i.e. regenerative braking (green arrows).

  • e-Manager: up to three departure and charging times can be programmed here, and heating or cooling of the interior can be activated via the stationary air conditioning, which comes as a standard feature.

  • 360° range: the driving range in “E-Mode” is shown by the so-called 360° zone on the map of the surrounding area. The highlighted zone depicts the one-way electric driving range of the car. Charging stations can be displayed and used in route calculation.

On the left side of the instrument cluster the Passat GTE’s power meter supplements the tachometer and shows information such as whether the high-voltage battery is being charged by regeneration or whether—and how much—energy is being consumed. The speedometer is still on the right side.

A color display, which is located between the power meter and speedometer, continually displays the electric driving range and the momentary operating mode. In a separate LED field in the lower segment of the multifunction display, the “READY” message also appears after starting the e-motor, indicating that the car is ready to be driven. This is done because the electric motor cannot be heard when the car is stopped.

Volkswagen is offering an optional instrument cluster that has been designed as a full interactive display: the Active Info Display. All instruments— thus also the specific displays in the Passat GTE—are implemented virtually. Navigation information can be shown in 2-D or 3-D views on a 12.3-inch display.

Its resolution of 1,440 x 540 pixels enables extremely precise, high-quality graphics and interactive display of all details. In the Navigation mode, for example, the speedometer and tachometer are relocated to the sides to make more room for the map display. Information on driving, navigation and assistance functions can be integrated into the graphic areas of the speedometer and tachometer as needed.

Data that is displayed on the center console via the infotainment system, such as phone contact pages or CD covers, can also be shown in the Active Info Display in the Passat. In fact, the driver can find all information relevant to driving in his or her direct field of view. As described above, he or she can pull up important data he needs according to the situation at hand and then use it in an individually selected display.

With the market launch of the plug-in hybrid, a total of nine drive versions, covering a power range from 92 kW / 125 PS to 206 kW / 280 PS, will be available for the European version of the Passat. All versions meet the EU 6 emissions standard.

The Passat GTE also constitutes an integral part of the strategy for electric mobility at Volkswagen. After the XL1, e-up!, e-Golf and Golf GTE, the Passat GTE is the fifth, or sixth model (sedan and wagon) that can be operated by electric motor with zero emissions.


Patrick Free

This year is a year for NOTHING related to 1st GEN German PHEVs. They entered into an epidemy of wrong sizings, endless copying each others errors, that started with Porsche Panamera PHEV earlier this year. They all go with a ridiculous / far too small # 10KWH battery packs (vs 30 KWH required to make all local commutes with one charge every 2 x days, so a good 3000 x cycles battery can last > 15 years, and reselling value is decent. Compared to 2 x charges per day required with 10 KWH and 5 years to wear the battery hence a cheaty reselling value of the used car tomorrow). And they all go with ridiculous # 100 HP or less Electric motors power, so that all electric mode is just un-acceptable for their demanding customers, so at the end these PHEVs will be used in mixed mode using the electric part as an extra turbo for the ICE engine that will be kept always on, minimizing any gaz savings.
I won't buy into that, and keep my money for the next wave hopefully with 200 HP Electric motors power and 30 KWH battery packs. For 5 years I delayed the replacement of my beloved BMW 530DA saving €75K so far, waiting for a good PHEV model, ideally in an compact/sporty SUV form factor. And nobody is serious to make a good PHEV in Germany today (Best concept so far was Audi TT OffRoad concept in China, but it will not turn into a product). So I'll extend the life of my old car till a good one comes out. Forget me for this round ZERO of German PHEVs with no vision.


I have to disagree - IMO, it would be better to have a smaller battery and keep the cost down (say 5KwH). Then only use the electric drive in stop/start traffic and use hybrid mode in the rest.

Alternately have at least 2 or more battery capacity levels: 5, 10, 15 kwH for instance.

They don't say how much it will cost, but I bet it will be expensive. A smaller battery would keep the price down until the have the development costs written off (!).

I would say it needs a faster charger - able to handle at least 8Kw, for a "lunch time" top up on a long run.

+ a 2L diesel version.

Roger Pham

This is a good looking and well-balanced PHEV design with a lot of power and very good fuel economy. With a station wagon version, the luggage space should be good to make up for the large battery pack.

Electric range should be about 30 miles in my estimation, which should cover 15-mile distance to work each way, which is very adequate. Those living up to 30 miles each way should try to lobby for charging socket at work in order to stay within the electric range. Those living more than 30 miles each way should try to move closer to work!

The 1.4-liter engine is a major downsizing from a typical 2.5-liter engine for this size of car, and fit neatly in the engine bay with enough room for electrical drive train. However, the 6-speed and 3-clutch transmission is a bit of an overkill that can be reduced to a 3-speed and single-clutch automated manual transmission in order to save cost and weight. The engine can practically stay in high gear all the time when the e-motor can step in and provide extra torque when needed, except in "GTE" power mode when gear shift is necessary to wring out maximum acceleration.

I would prefer a smaller engine, a 3-cylinder-1-liter turbocharged engine to save even more weight, cost, and fuel. Thus, a 3-cylinder engine and 3-speed-single clutch transmission version can be offered at even lower prices and higher efficiency for Greenies who do not put high priority on acceleration nor top speed. Those wanting fast acceleration would prefer an ICEV version with bigger engines and bigger transmission anyway.
It may be less practical to offer a PHEV version to Greenies with a lot of power that will go unappreciated, while resulting in higher cost and lower efficiency. Thus, the high-powered PHEV's can be left to Porsche and Mercedes-Benz while VW can concentrate on making the most affordable and most efficient "people's car."


I also think it's a well balanced plug-in, the problem I see is complexity (cost) of the transmission and engine. It's overkill if you almost never use it.

Also one thing to consider is that engine is not warmed up and ready for a complete 215 HP if you are on normal EV commute to work. Engine will have many hours running cold.


Good point about the cold running, although the engine in the Volt seems to manage fine.

Cars like this should be seen in the context of the new battery packs coming from the likes of LG Chem, giving an 80% or so energy density improvement.

They should be here in two years, which we can be precise about because Mercedes is counting on them for their Mercedes S-type plug in, to get them up to 50km on the NEDC and comply with Chinese regulations for zero emission city cars.

The same energy density put into a car like this would given them Volt-like range, and IMO was critical in VW's design choice.

They liked the Volt so much they are building many variants on the same theme with around the same AER when the new batteries get here.


Yes, but Volt doesn't need ICE for additional power, If I understand correctly VW GTE will automaticly go to hybrid mode whenever there is high demand for power, Volt doesn't do that. Plug-in Prius does that though.

But in the end it all depends on the driver, if any car is abused it will just not last very long.

Roger Pham

Glad you agree with me regarding reducing the engine to 1 liter and cylinder count to 3 and transmission to 3-speed single clutch. A PHEV is not going to use the engine much, so why lugging around the extra weight all the time?
Small engine is easier to warm up. Perhaps the engine can be kept warm by circulating the warmed-up coolant from the motor and inverter. So, a single coolant loop that supplies cool fluid to motor and inverter which then is routed to the engine before going to the radiator.

85 kW motor (114 hp) is plenty of power for driving in all electric mode without relying on the engine for more power. This is especially so when the motor's torque is further amplified by the transmission that can quadruple the motor's torque when needed. In the electric mode, perhaps the engine is not allowed to start at all.

Of course, if you wanna do street-light drag racing, you'll need all the power and torque that you can muster, and the engine will need to be warmed-up to come on regularly. That would be the "Power mode", aka "GTE" mode in the selection button. Perhaps,in this mode, the engine will be warmed up before hand and will come on regularly to keep it warm. The car is then powered primarily by the engine and the motor only comes on when extra power is needed. In the hybrid mode, perhaps the motor is restricted to low power, and that the engine will come on easily with a deeper push on the gas pedal.


iUntil such time as decent higher enerny density affordable batteries become available, PHEVs (à la Toyota) with much smaller battery pack make sense.

Modular plug-in batteries could certainly be an added advantage. Buyers should be allowed to start with one module (4 to 5 kWh) and add more modules at a latter date. Within 5 years the original module could be trade in for a 2X unit + extra higher energy density modules added.


Sure, you can the pedal and the ICE will cut in.
If you are driving normally in the city, or up to 80mph on the highway, you can also tell the car to stick to EV mode.
It isn't the car design that is at fault if people abuse it.


This from Autocar re the Audi A3 e-tron:

"The petrol engine can instantly be engaged via the kickdown button, or by using a centre console-mounted rocker switch to toggle to hybrid operation. Because kickdown can demand maximum effort from a cold engine, Audi has reworked this TFSI’s piston rings and liners for wear-protection, and included a sensor to measure oil quality."

I'm guessing the VW engineers would pursue a similar strategy?

Roger Pham

Furthermore, the car's computer can restrict the engine's power output until the engine is fully warmed up, to protect the engine from excess wear from cold running. If the hybrid mode is selected from the start, the engine can be warmed up during initial run and the engine will remain the primary power plant while the motor is used as auxiliary and limited in power until the output of the engine is maxed out.

The comments to this entry are closed.