On Motoring Monday we show the next-generation of Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi vehicles that will feature electrification instead of diesel power.
There is no doubt the implosion of Volkswagen AG’s TDI Clean Diesel brand has had a huge impact on their future plans. And while they had already been working on electrified vehicles for some time, the scandal has made it priority one going forward.
We’ll start with the new generation of all-electric products to come from not only Volkswagen, but Audi and Porsche. This isn’t entirely new territory as the Volkswagen e-Golf is already on sale and having pretty good success. Its sales are up nearly 300% over November of last year.
The real story though is that the German company has seen the overnight success of Tesla and will launch a tri-fecta of new vehicles aimed directly at the California based electric car maker from all three of their brands.
Audi showed their new e-Tron Quattro crossover concept earlier this year at the Frankfurt Auto Show, a powerful all-electric SUV that will compete with the Tesla Model X. With around 500 horsepower at all four wheels, the e-tron Quattro goes from 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. It will have a range of over 300 miles.
Since then Volkswagen announced their next-generation top-end Phaeton sedan will be an all-electric product, no-doubt sharing its underlying powertrain architecture with the Audi e-Tron Quattro. You could say it will be a Tesla Model S competitor, but there’s more.
Porsche has announced their all-electric Mission-E Concept that also debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show has been given the green-light for production. The new super-sedan Porsche says will have over 600 horsepower and 0-60 acceleration under 3.5 seconds. And range? Over 300 miles.
All three products will share their powertrain and battery platform tool-kit utilizing a powerful electric motor at the front axle, and a two motor drive unit at the rear. Powerful lithium-ion batteries will reside under the floor, very similar to Tesla vehicles.
Volkswagen AG is investing over 750 million dollars in the development of the new product architecture and in what they call Factory 4.0. The investment in labor, facilities and engineering will create over 1,000 jobs.
No question a new era is coming for the long term future of the company’s top end products. But we’ve also got some new products coming down the line in the next year or two that will fill the gap left by the TDI.
Volkswagen currently offers a hybrid version of the Jetta sedan which is built here in North America, powered by a 1.4 liter turbocharged gasoline engine and an electric motor. We’ve tested this car with good things to say, the link to that review is below in the information section.
But Audi next year is rolling out a plug-in hybrid variation of the same powertrain architecture in their new A3 e-Tron Sportback. It will have plug-in capability which extends the range and capability over the Jetta Hybrid considerably.
The plug-in hybrid five-door hatch will start at $37,900, powered by the same 1.4 liter turbocharged gasoline engine and electric motors. Its more powerful lithium-ion battery pack can be charged, bringing an 83 MPGe rating. With a combined 204 horsepower, Audi says it will accelerate from 0-60 in 7.6 seconds.
I expect both the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid and the Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback will be sold hard into the hole where TDI Clean Diesels used to reside until they return to the market, if they ever do. And in that way it’s highly likely we’ll see more hybrid and plug-in hybrid models coming soon.
With the recent unveil of the 2017 Audi Q7 crossover SUV, it is conspicuously only offered in North America with the 3.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine. There is no TDI offered as would have been, but there is another option.
There is a plug-in hybrid version to be offered in other markets which uses a 2.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine and and an electric motor in its automatic transmission. The video here shows a 3.0 liter TDI version of the hybrid, but I think we don’t need to count on that coming to us.
My gut feeling is however that we can expect a plug-hybrid version of the new Q7 as well as other models in their crossover and sedan lines in the near term. These same additions I think will also be forthcoming from Volkswagen at some point with their Jetta, perhaps even the Passat with a plug-in hybrid variant.
Interestingly enough Volkswagen canceled the hybrid version of the Touareg SUV for the 2016 model year due to slow sales. This decision was made before the TDI’s got pulled from the market and I suspect that hybrid may well make an unexpected return.
While the TDI Clean Diesels may get reintroduced once Volkswagen comes up with a cure for their dirty ways, my sense is that they really want to get that part of the company’s history behind them and move on.
Their subsequent actions with regard to product announcements I think tell us that the future focus is on electricity, that their tribal council has turned a corner here and they aren’t looking back. I will miss the TDI era, but this new one I admit does look pretty exciting.