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Volkswagen Goes Electric

German giant reverses long-standing reluctance to launch flood of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-cars.

by on Sep.12, 2013

Volkswagen's e-Up! concept reflects the maker's turnaround about having electric vehicles in its lineup.

With the launch of the new e-Golf model at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, along with the smaller e-Up! model, Volkswagen AG begins a high-voltage push into the emerging battery-car market. And that’s just the start, senior VW officials promise.

Add in models as diverse as the plug-in hybrid Audi A3 Sportback and the new battery-assisted Porsche 918 supercar, and Europe’s largest automaker begins the process of rolling out a planned 40 hybrids, plug-ins and full battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, by 2018.


So aggressive is the Volkswagen campaign that CEO Martin Winterkorn is projecting the maker will become the largest manufacturer of battery-based vehicles in the world, noting, “We have developed the know-how for electric motors and battery systems at our own components plants, we have recruited 400 top experts for electric traction and qualified almost 70,000 development, production and service employees in this new technology — the biggest electrification training program in our industry.” (more…)

VW’s New Golf Goes Electric

New VW e-Golf hatchback paired with e-Up! microcar.

by on Sep.10, 2013

VW claims a 120-mile range for the e-Golf.

Visitors to this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show better be careful not to trip over all the plugs as manufacturers bring an array of new battery-based vehicles out for inspection. And none have more to show off than the Volkswagen Group.

The German giant covers a wide range of offerings with any manner of hybrids, plug-ins and pure battery-electrics for its various brands, including the extended-range Audi Sport Quattro show car.  But the flagship VW brand itself weighs in with a pair of new all-electric offerings, including the new e-Golf.

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Based on the high-volume hatchback that recently went on sale in Europe and numerous other global markets, the Volkswagen e-Golf is powered by a 24.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that the maker claims can deliver about 190 kilometers per charge.  To help maximize range, even at night, the battery hatchback adopts highly-efficient LED headlamps.


VW Going Electric at Detroit Auto Show

German maker to unveil Passat hybrid and a new battery car.

by on Dec.14, 2011

Volkswagen will reveal a new hybrid version of the Passat sedan during the Detroit Auto Show.

Volkswagen hopes to charge into the upcoming Detroit Auto Show with a pair of battery-based vehicles including a new hybrid version of its hot-selling Passat sedan.

The German maker is better known for its commitment to diesel technology, so-called “oil burners” accounting for as much as a third of the sales of some of its U.S. models.  But to win over the growing “green car” segment, both here and abroad, VW has been putting a bigger emphasis on electric propulsion.

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The arrival of a Passat hybrid would follow the launch of the maker’s first gas-electric model, the Touareg Hybrid, last year.  The newer offering is due to market by November as a 2013 model.

As for the battery-electric vehicle that Volkswagen plans to show in Detroit the maker isn’t ready to release details beyond saying the small zero-emissions vehicle will not be the same E-Up model that it first revealed during the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2009.


VW Confirms Little Up Model Debuting in Europe This Year

U.S. plans are “Up” in the air.

by on Aug.23, 2011

VW plans to launch sales of its new Up microcar in Europe by December.

Volkswagen will formally introduce the production version of its newest – and smallest – car, the Up, at the Frankfurt Motor Show, next month.  The micro-compact will reach European showrooms before year-end, though plans for a U.S. launch apparently remain “Up” in the air.

In many ways, the minicar is more like the original Volkswagen Beetle than the latest version of the Bug that drove during a Berlin preview last month. (Click Here for that review.)  The Up will become the smallest car in the VW line-up, at less than 12 feet nose-to-tail, focusing on the growing market for urban cruisers that can deliver space, fuel-efficiency and more driving fun than the traditional econobox.

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VW first revealed the Up at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show with a conventional gasoline engine.  It returned, two years later, in battery-electric form.  Eventually, the maker is expecting to produce both versions.


Volkswagen Planning Big Battery-Car Push In China

Maker aims to sell 10,000 in China; may design unique EV for Asian market.

by on Nov.11, 2010

Volkswagen's e-Up battery car could find a market in China as early as 2013.

Volkswagen plans to begin market an electric vehicle in China as early as 2013, and may design a battery vehicle specifically for the Asian nation, a senior company official said.

Now the world’s largest national automotive market, China is struggling with a variety of problems, including the challenge of maintaining oil supplies and the need to reduce the severe pollution that chokes its major cities.  That has led the Beijing government to encourage makers, both domestic and foreign, to begin turning to electric propulsion.

Karl-Thomas Neumann, the president of Volkswagen China Group, said VW will produce battery-electric cars, or BEVs, in China, through its two separate joint ventures, one with FAW Group, the other with SAIC Motor.  During a conference on electric vehicles in Shenzhen, Neumann also suggested VW may develop a battery car specifically for the Chinese market.

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Currently, Volkswagen is working on a variety of electrification programs, from conventional hybrids to pure BEVs.  Among the latter is the eUP, a battery-powered version of its new microcar, the VW UP.  Its first model to reach China will be a hybrid version of the Touareg SUV, which will go on sale there this year.

“There is a very strong argument that electric cars are the right move for China, although there are still many challenges,” Neumann said, during the Shenzhen event. “China is making huge investments in renewable energy.”


Q&A: Volkswagen’s Jacoby & Hackenberg

Betting on something the consumer may not want.

by on Sep.25, 2009

Governments may force the industry to build battery cars, like the 2013 Volkswagen e-Up, but governments will also need to subsidize their sale, says VW's global technology chief, Ulrich Hackenberg.

Governments may force the industry to build battery cars, like the 2013 Volkswagen e-Up, but governments will also need to subsidize their sale, says VW's global technology chief, Ulrich Hackenberg.

“If you build it, they will come,” goes the oft-quoted line from the film, “Field of Dreams.”  That’s the guiding principle of the auto industry, though in the coming years, there’s no guarantee consumers really will come to showrooms for some of the products now on the industry’s drawing boards.

Take the “e-Up,” the little electric car that Volkswagen unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, earlier this month.  Based on the smallest car in the VW line-up, it’s designed to meet tough new emissions and fuel economy standards, but at a stiff price premium – and with a trade-off on range.

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Whether there really will be a market for e-Up or any of the other plug-ins, E-REVS or battery cars is one of the questions posed to two of Volkswagen’s top officials, global technology chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, and Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volkswagen of America.


Frankfurt Plugs In

Battery technology dominates 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

by on Sep.17, 2009

A foggy future for the electric vehicle; here the 2012 Audi e-tron battery supercar

A foggy future for the electric vehicle; here the 2012 Audi e-tron battery supercar

In years past, the debut of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS would have been something of the norm for the Frankfurt Motor Show.  True, at a price of around $300,000, the supercar is far from the mainstream, but in keeping with the emphasis on technology and performance by the country that prides itself in the speed limitless Autobahn, muscle is normally a high priority.

There were certainly plenty of media on hand to witness the debut of the gullwinged SLS, which boasts a top speed of 197 mph.  But the supercar took something of a backseat, even on the Mercedes stand, where the bulk of the German maker’s news conference focused on high-mileage models like the S500, a hybrid-electric version of its flagship S-Class sedan, and the F-Cell, a prototype crossover vehicle running on clean hydrogen.

Plug in, Charge Up!

Plug in, Charge Up!

“For me, the key message of this show is that we, as industry are delivering on the promise we made two years ago,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, technology chief for Mercedes’ parent, Daimler AG.  At the 2007 Frankfurt show, he recalled, makers like Mercedes, “looked at where we would have to go to be sustainable.”


First Look: 2013 Volkswagen e-Up Battery Car

Automaker wants to take its EV “into the mainstream.”

by on Sep.14, 2009

Volkswagen plans to put a version of this e-Up battery car concept, based on its Up minicar, into production by 2013.

Volkswagen plans to put a version of this e-Up battery car concept, based on its Up minicar, into production by 2013.

Though there are bound to be some tweaks and changes made by the time a production version of the e-Up concept vehicle makes it into production, Volkswagen officials confirmed, during a preview of the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, that they will put the battery car into showrooms three years from now.

The e-Up is based on the new Up, one of the newest and decidedly the smallest members of the expanding VW line-up.  Slightly smaller than the gasoline and diesel-powered versions of the minicar, the 2013 e-Up concept electric vehicle relies on a small set of Lithium-Ion batteries, mounted below its floor, to deliver a range of about 80 miles, enough for most urban drivers, according to Volkswagen officials.

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“It is what we think a volume electric vehicle could look like in 2013,” declared Ulrich Hackenberg, the German maker’s technology chief, during a preview of the vehicles Volkswagen will be showing at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.