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Automakers Hope to Charge Things Up at Frankfurt

Assortment of hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric models debuting at auto show.

by on Sep.09, 2013

The Audi Sport Quattro Concept features a 700-hp plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

With sales slipping to two-decade lows in recent months, the European automotive market has come unplugged – which may be why brands as diverse as BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche are hoping to charge things up with the many hybrids, plug-ins and battery-electric vehicles making their debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.

Manufacturers see a number of potential benefits from electric propulsion, especially in a market where regular unleaded gasoline is going for the equivalent of more than $9 a gallon in some market. The technology also will prove critical if makers hope to meet Europe’s increasingly stringent restrictions on CO2 emissions – a particularly tough challenge for high-line manufacturer like Mercedes-Benz, which will introduce a new plug-in version of its big S-Class sedan at the Frankfurt show.

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The range of new battery-based offerings will be “all over the map,” suggested Stephanie Brinley, an industry analyst with IHS Automotive – from the little Volkswagen e-Golf to the plug-in diesel hybrid being introduced by Land Rover for its flagship Range Rover SUV. (more…)

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.

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First Drive: 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid

Braking up is hard to do.

by on Mar.24, 2010

With its gas-electric drivetrain, the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid delivers V8 performance and promises V6 mileage.

The streets of the old city are crowded, tourists gaping at the sights as they wander down the middle of the narrow streets of Florence at first not even noticing our big SUV rolling by.  That’s easy to do when it’s running in near-silent battery mode, the only sounds the crunching of tires on the pavement and the subtle hum of the 2011 Volkswagen Touareg’s electric motor.

It’s been a decade since the first hybrid-electric vehicles began rolling into showrooms.  Until recently, the field was dominated by Asian makers, Toyota in particular, with the popular Prius.  After a slow start, U.S. makers have steadily ramped up their own menu of gas-electric offerings, but until recently, Europen marques seemed determined to prove to the world they had a better solution in the form of the diesel drivetrain.

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Suddenly, that’s shifting. The new decade is bringing with it a wave of hybrid entries from German marques like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and, for the upcoming model-year, VW, which enters the alternative power fray with the completely-redesigned Touareg, which will be offered, starting in 2011, with a broad mix of powertrain options, including conventional gasoline, diesel and hybrid.

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