Volkswagen to use hot plug-in hybrids to showcase electrified tech

Models such as 180kW Golf GTE and 340kW Touareg R to highlight performance and environmental benefits of electrification.

Volkswagen will expand its range of hot plug-in hybrid models in the future as a way of showcasing the performance potential of electrified technology, according to the firm’s electrified drivetrains boss.

The firm recently revealed the Touareg R, which features a 340kW plug-in hybrid powertrain based around a 2.9-litre V6 engine. It joins the newest version of the Golf GTE, which has been upgraded to offer 180kW to match the new petrol-engined Golf GTI.

Volkswagen will further expand its plug-in hybrid offerings this year with new Tiguan GTE and Arteon GTE models, both of which are likely to use the same powertrain as the Golf GTE.

Kai Philipp, Volkswagen’s electrified drivetrain project manager, said that offering high-performance plug-in hybrid models will help to prove the sporting credentials of both electrified and electric powertrains.

“This is one means of making electrified cars attractive: they can combine pure electric driving capability with high performance if the driver wants to use it,” said Philipp. “With a plug-in hybrid system, that performance comes with no compromise in terms of torque or power, so we wanted to use the two components to make the car as attractive as possible.”

Asked if all Volkswagen performance models could feature a PHEV powertrain option in the future, Philipp said: “We’re on a long-term path to reduce our carbon emissions, so of course the share of battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars [in the range] will grow, which means that our offering of pure ICE cars will decline.”

Philipp didn’t rule out the possibility of a T-Roc GTE model, saying that “technically this could be a fit, and on the MQB platform we have the possibility to do so.” But he said such a model, which would likely also adopt the 180kW Golf GTE powertrain, “depends on the demand in the market.”

He added: “At the moment the Tiguan is our best-selling SUV, and so for plug-in hybrid powertrains this is what we are focusing on at the moment.”

While plug-in hybrid technology is often considered a stop-gap offered by manufacturers to lower fleet average emissions while sales of electric cars remain small, Philipp said he expected demand for PHEVs to continue to grow, potentially for the next decade.

“It’s my personal view that the peak for plug-in hybrid cars is still ahead of us and will come in the next 8-10 years,” he said. “But it’s strongly dependent on the market success of pure electric cars.”

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