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Aaron Gold

Why VW hasn't done a diesel hybrid... yet

By November 9, 2012

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Volkswagen TDI engineI'm just finishing my review of VW's 2013 Jetta Hybrid, which I'll post on Monday. When I was at the press preview, I did pose the question a lot of you have been asking: Why hasn't Volkswagen done a diesel hybrid? The short answer: Cost and need.

The primary consideration is cost -- not just to Volkswagen, but to the consumer. VW will be charging a premium of about $2,500 for the diesel and $4,500 for the new hybrid -- that's compared to a similarly-equipped Jetta 2.5, by the way, and not the cheapie base model. Regardless of the actual costs, VW would obviously have to charge more for both technologies, less they devalue either one. So now we're talking about a $27,000 Jetta with cloth seats. Even for devoted Volkswagen buyers, that would be a hard sell.

A second reason -- and I have to give VW credit for being honest with us hacks about it -- is that they simply don't need the technology yet. They acknowledge that a diesel hybrid would deliver pretty spectacular fuel economy, but they can meet current CAFE standards with diesels and gas-eletric hybrids. (This smacks of the 100 MPG carburetor that the government is supposedly keeping under wraps.)

Is the technology coming? You betcha. Volkswagen showed the Cross Coupe concept (Autoblog photo, VW press release) at the Geneva show this past spring, a compact CUV (Tiguan replacement?) with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, the internal-combustion component of which was a turbodiesel engine. VW as much as told us that we will see this type of powertrain in the future, though it's still several years off.

For now, we'll have to take what we can get... and what we can get is the TDI diesel -- which, as I am learning in our long-term Passat TDI test, is pretty spectacular -- and the Jetta Hybrid -- which, as you will see on Monday, is also pretty darn good. -- Aaron Gold

November 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm
(1) billshoff says:

“…the 100 MPG carburetor that the government is supposedly keeping under wraps.”

I saw Elvis selling these carburetors out of the trunk of his space ship near Roswell, NM.

November 11, 2012 at 1:14 am
(2) Hawaiian Don says:

At those high costs the breakeven point of purchase to fuel saving will top 100k miles. Few of us will commit to a car with such a long payoff due to theft, accident and fear of a lemon.

November 11, 2012 at 2:20 am
(3) Eric Oliver says:

In 200 years when most of the accessible oil has been drilled, people will wonder why VW did not build diesel hybrids as soon as they could. By that time hopefully we will be running on hydrogen to save us from global heating as we should right now.

November 11, 2012 at 4:59 am
(4) Peter Dejong says:

Hybrid cars are the most polluting ones. So VW is most probably clever and will not make one. Hydrogen is the way to go. Hybrids are close to highly toxic chemical waste if you over see the total lifespan. Should be marked as toxic material. Problem is that people think it is environmental friendly which it is not. So hydrogen the way to go. And until then we will all go over to diesel!

November 15, 2012 at 11:36 am
(5) Nikko says:

Peter Dejong: Provide the data on how hybrids are the most polluting cars, and donít tell us that most electricity in this nation is generated by coal. That may have been the case years ago but in the United States cleaner natural gas and non-polluting power sources provide the overwhelming majority of electricity. The percentage of low and non-polluting electric generation is rapidly increasing in almost all countries including China.

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