Volkswagen promises electrification and gas

Future alternative propulsion plans announced at Vienna Motor Symposium

Published: April 30, 2017, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:10 PM

2016 Paris Motor Show - One of the most radical cars in Paris this month was the Volkswagen I.D. – a completely electric vehicle that is the first VW designed for completely autonomous driving. It’s scheduled to go into production in 2020.

Volkswagen is making a large-scale push into alternative propulsion, including electrification and natural gas.

At the recent Vienna Motor Symposium, the German automaker announced plans for a full slate of electrified powertrains for the Golf, from affordable micro-hybrid systems to fully-optimized battery electric vehicles. It also included a new “coasting” feature that shuts off the engine completely under certain driving scenarios. The feature will be available in the Golf TSI BlueMotion equipped with the DSG automatic. Meanwhile, the sub-compact Polo gets a new 3-cylinder engine designed to run on natural gas.

“Partially and fully electric drive systems form a key pillar of our drive system strategy,” explained Friedrich Eichler, Head of Volkswagen Powertrain Development. “Our range of technology, especially that available for the Golf, now covers all customer preferences. The new ‘Coasting - Engine off’ micro hybrid system represents a low-cost level of electric- powered motoring on a 12-volt basis.”

The “coasting” feature in the new Golf TSI BlueMotion launching this summer works with the DSG gearbox to shut off the 1.5-litre TSI 4-cylinder engine when the driver lifts off the throttle, reducing fuel usage by up to 0.4 liters per 100 km.

The engine starts up after its coasting session in one of three ways — using the engine starter, bump-starting using the automatic clutches of the transmission, or a combination of both — depending on the scenario in which the vehicle is operating. The system uses a compact lithium-ion battery in conjunction with the existing 12-volt battery, using a current-flow regulator called a Q-diode.

The electrification plans include a plug-in hybrid powertrain, evidenced in the Golf GTE4 concept, and the 100% battery-powered drive in the new e-Golf, which now delivers 100 kW (134 hp) and 214 lb-ft of torque (increases of 17% and 7%, respectively). Range is also improved by an additional 110 km to 300 km, with the capacity increase of its lithium battery to 35.8 kWh (an increase of nearly 50% from the previous battery’s 24.2 kWh).

The next step is the all-electric architecture, which will be debuting in 2020.

“The all-electric architecture combines local zero-emission driving with superb long-distance mobility. It forms the basis for our new generation of electric vehicles that we will be offering globally in high volume,” said Eichler. “Its drive system and the system’s intelligent management provide for great efficiency and simultaneously convey to the passengers a new, highly comfortable driving experience, including with regard to automated driving.”

The company has also decided to explore other fuel alternatives for its small cars, with development of a new 1.0-litre dual-fuel engine that can run on gasoline or bio-gas.

“Due to its chemical composition, natural gas as a fuel already reduces CO2 emissions if it comes from fossil sources. If, however, it is produced in a sustainable way, for instance as biomethane from agricultural waste, then looked at from well-to-wheel it facilitates a form of mobility that produces appreciably less CO2,” said Dr Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, Head of Volkswagen Petrol Engine Development. “We use the term e-gas to describe synthetically produced CNG that is made out of water and CO2 from renewable power generation’s excess current. e-gas is ideal for making renewable power usable for the transport sector and for storing it. It is in practical terms a partner in the switch to renewable forms of energy.”

The company is planning to not just explore the potential of the gas for fuel purposes, but to also interact with others that have vested interests in the technology — political players, energy providers, gas producers, other OEMs and government ministries.