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Volkswagen: reorienting diesel strategy, new Modular Electric Toolkit, MQB push on PHEVs, electric Phaeton

The newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management has made a number of major strategic product decisions, including a reorientation of the diesel strategy to use the most advanced emission aftertreatment technologies; the development of a standardized electric architecture (Modular Electric Toolkit, MEB) for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles; and an electric next-generation Phaeton.

Further, Volkswagen will accelerate its efficiency program and cut spending by some €1 billion per year.

The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future. We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program. We are very aware that we can only implement these innovations for the future of the Volkswagen brand effectively if we succeed with our efficiency program and in giving our product range a new focus.

—Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess

Diesel emissions strategy. Volkswagen will only use SCR and AdBlue technology with diesels in Europe and North America as soon as possible. Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology.

In the run-up to the emissions scandal, Volkswagen had been using NOx traps in addition to SCR-based systems on some vehicles, depending upon size. For example, even the new EA288 diesel (earlier post)—apparently not tainted by the software defeat device (earlier post)—had been designed to use NOx storage or selective catalytic reduction system (SCR) singularly or in combination depending upon the needs of the vehicle (e.g., weight) and market regulations.

Further development of the Modular Transverse Toolkit (MQB). There will be a major development thrust for the proven MQB standardized technical toolkit, where Volkswagen Passenger Cars holds responsibility for development within the Group network. The focus is on plug-in hybrids with an even greater range, high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 kilometers, a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid) as well as ever more efficient diesel, gasoline and CNG concepts.

A new standard with regard to connectivity and driver assistance systems is to be defined.

MEB electric toolkit. Volkswagen will develop an MEB electric toolkit (Baukasten) for future use in compact segment vehicles based on the experience gained with existing vehicle architectures. This will be a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and will thus leverage synergies from other electric vehicle projects in the Group. (Earlier post.) The standardized system will be designed for all body structures and vehicle types, thus allowing particularly emotional vehicle concepts, and will enable an all-electric range of 250 to 500 kilometers (155 to 311 miles).

Phaeton redefined—the future is electric. The Volkswagen Phaeton has embodied the brand’s technological competence and brand ambition from the first generation onward. Volkswagen intends for the future generation of the Phaeton to once again be the flagship for the brand’s profile over the next decade. In light of this, the Board of Management redefined the current project. The specification features a pure electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design.


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This confirms what I was reading that urea after treatment is the only system that can clean NOx pollution from diesels without hurting fuel economy and performance. It is expensive and customers need to fill both a diesel tank and an urea tank. Urea is nasty stuff you do not want to get on your skin. Moreover, terrorists can use it for making explosives. You really should not sell it to anyone without them having a licence to make explosives. It is time for the auto industry to drop diesel fuel completely and forever. There are so many alternatives like natural gas, gasoline, propane, BEV, HEV and PHEV. Just forget diesel we do not need it and we sure do not want it anymore.

Dr. Strange Love

UREA is cheap (WallyMart ...). The irony of this VW scandal is that UREA will become cheaper very soon.

Terrorists prefer Powdered detergents, Bleach and Diesel fuel. UREA is too expensive for them.

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I know urea is cheap but the urea catalyst system is not cheap. Terrorist have lots of money. Their problem is to get stuff in large quantities unnoticed. They can do that with urea if we sell it everywhere to anybody.

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Diesel engines may not be dead. As far as I get it they can be made to operate on natural gas or propane?

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I would love to see America replace its 10 million or so heavy duty diesel trucks with 10 million LNG burning trucks using natural gas also made in America. The world could see a lot more war in the Middle East soon and we should be prepared for loosing the oil supply from that part of the world. I think this supply will be lost in a few years and this time we will not come and save their royal as**s again as we now know it is not worth the trouble.

Nick Lyons

Diesel engines may not be dead. As far as I get it they can be made to operate on natural gas or propane?

Indeed, compression ignition works with many fuels. You still have to solve the NOx problem, however, since diesel is lean burn with high temps and excess air in the chamber.

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I might say something stupid because it is not my field. But could you not lower the temp by using a mix of say LNG and water in a diesel engine? And instead of ignition by heat/compression you may use a spark or a laser? There must be ways this can be made to work without diesel and urea.

Dr. Strange Love

Henrik. I wouldn't worry too much about the fuel. Let governments enforce stricter emissions controls and tests, and I think the technology will evolve naturally with the standards and tests in place.

I wouldn't fixate on BEVs either. All-Electric drive platforms are boring and not technologically interesting.

HEVs, PHEVs, parallel and series are interesting and will dominate.

Dr. Strange Love

Oh. There are applications where Hydraulic recover will shine too. This will happen for off-road applications as well.


The vehicle and energy industries have not been working in favour of USA's middle class and environment for a very longtime. The free for all has been going on for many decades and more regulations will be required to make it right.

Otherwise, Miami, New Orleans and many low land cities will soon be submerged and who knows what will happen to the south west, mid west and west coast areas.

Using NG instead of dirty diesel for trucks, locomotives and ships could be a valuable temporary partial fix. Partial and/or full electrification would be much better.

Solar energy + H2 storage and distribution + FCs will soon gain acceptance to solve the crisis.

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Turns out that Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi are also cheating with their diesel cars that pollute up to 6 times more in real life driving then in test cycles. This is reported by European researchers. More mass murder (by premature death due to air pollution) of EU citizens. Shame on them.

Guardian on cheating by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi

WHO on 7 million air pollution death.


The bit that jumped out at me was:

' The focus is on plug-in hybrids with an even greater range, high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 kilometers, a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid).

So in reverse order, that seems to imply:

1. Mild hybrids rapidly moving in to all or nearly all models.

2. The use probably of LG Chem batteries to make a Bolt equivalent, with ~200 miles on the EPA cycle.

3. Instead of sticking with the current battery pack size in PHEVs of ~10 kwh and ~22 miles on the EPA designed to comply with Chinese and European city ZEV regulations, which was the previous plan, using the extra capacity of the next generation of batteries to offer at least as an option more AER, perhaps something like 16 kwh and ~35 miles on the EPA, along the lines of the original Volt.

They can do this within current packaging as the battery energy density improves.
There is enough room in the platforms including the MQB which underlies the Golf and Jetta to allow this, it was just an option they had not previously committed to taking up.

Nick Lyons

@Henrik: I might say something stupid because it is not my field. But could you not lower the temp by using a mix of say LNG and water in a diesel engine? And instead of ignition by heat/compression you may use a spark or a laser? There must be ways this can be made to work without diesel and urea.

LNG/CNG will certainly work with spark ignition--but then you are not building a diesel. Diesel-style (compression ignition) is attractive for low-end torque and thermal efficiency. Efficiency is high because:

1. High compression/high temp increases Carnot efficiency--the greater the delta between combustion temp and exhaust temp, the more efficient a heat engine can be.

2. Un-throttled intake/lean burn reduces pumping losses at partial load, which is where most of the duty cycle is, usually. (Lean burn also increase NOx production, of course.)

So you can certainly make a spark-ignited ICE that burns LNG/CNG without needing urea; it would just be less fuel-efficient.

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Nick thank you.
So I was indeed stupid thinking one could lower the combustion temp and still have a diesel engine. The forthcoming Toyota Prius brags of making a new Atkinson cycle gasoline engine (whatever that really is) with 40% thermal efficiency which should be as high as the best small diesel engines (I know marine monster diesel engines can approach 50%). Then use hybrid technology (electric gear) to keep the engine close to that 40% peek efficiency in all driving conditions. I would think this is a good strategy and if it could also switch to compressed natural gas (for light duty) or LNG (for heavy duty) that would be really great. It would cost more per vehicle but the fuel will be much cheaper and home grown so to speak and the environment will benefit a lot. VW already has dual fuel gas/CNG vehicles they just need to make more of them and make them better in terms of trunk storage. Perhaps make a dedicated platform that pack the stuff more intelligently with gas cylinders in the floor of the vehicle just like Tesla hide their battery in that floor and get the advantage of a higher hip point.


You can lower combustion temperature in a diesel by adopting Miller timing which reduces NOx but turbochargers are then 2-stage and more expensive. Srtill won't take enough NOx out for modern regulations.

You can use gas in a compression-ignition engine by using a small amount of diesel pilot fuel to cause the ignition but whilst particulates will be much lower NOx doesn't reduce so much.

Spark-ignited gas engine is an Otto-cycle and NOx is much reduced as is particulates but the issue is Methane-slip where unburnt natural gas (methane) are exhausted: toxic emissions are better but greenhouse gases much worse.


There are diesels that combine diesel fuel with CNG. I saw a video about a VW 2.0 diesel that put the CNG into the air intake. It had lots of power with lower particulates.


After 135+ years, isn't the right time to phase out all those dirty noisy ICEVs in favor of more up to date cleaner quieter FCEVs and BEV?

Available (restricted) NG could be used to replace dirty coal for e-power plants and home uses.



That will not happen for quite a while, I would rather have FFV hybrids than keep cheering from the side lines with no results.

The Lurking Jerk

@ Henrik and Nick Lyons: Unfortunately, compression ignition does not work with natural gas. It must be spark ignited. Propane I don’t know, but that’s a much more expensive fuel and not plentiful like natural gas.

A spark ignition natural gas range extender setup with be great though.

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I thought I read years ago about Volvo using a spark ignited diesel engine to burn natural gas. So I Goggled it. And sure enough this is what Volvo does for some of their heavy duty trucks. See

Benefit is 20% reduction in CO2 and no sot emissions. According to Volvo the after treatment systems (I guess for NOx and residual CH4) are apparently also simpler. Natural gas is an abundant home made fuel just like electricity. Propane and DME are also increasingly available. US propane production grew from 500k barrels a day in 2010 to 1250k barrels per day in 2014 due to increased production of oil and gas from shale. DME can be made from natural gas. Hopefully the VW cheating scandal will accelerate the development of natural gas, propane and DME as a less polluting cheaper substitute for diesel.

US propane prod


Diesel to Natural Gas Conversion

City diesel buses have run on CNG for decades.

I'm really interested in renewable diesel like west coast cities have converted to.

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