Volkswagen Realizes It Desperately Needs A Plug-In Hybrid Model

Electric Vehicles / 2 Comments

The automaker's newly appointed US CEO views this as a top priority.

The CEO of Volkswagen Group of America has told Automotive News that launching at least one vehicle with a plug-in hybrid powertrain is one of his top priorities. Pablo Di Si told the news outlet that the undecided PHEV model will likely be added to the US lineup in the very near future. But why the sudden urge?

Because Di Si views PHEV technology as a stop-gap measure to full-scale battery electrification. The goal remains for VW to become an EV-only brand in the US by the mid-2030s. "It takes you a long time to develop a technology. If I wouldn't have any plug-in hybrid in the group, it wouldn't be an idea," Di Si said. Fortunately, corporate cousin brand Audi could be the key to making this happen fairly soon.

2022-2023 Volkswagen Tiguan Front Angle View Carbuzz / Ian Wright
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2022-2023 Volkswagen Tiguan Driver Area Carbuzz / Ian Wright

"When you're talking Volkswagen Group in North America, we do have a plug-in hybrid: The [Audi] Q5 e, in Mexico, is a plug-in hybrid. I drove the car in Mexico; it's beautiful, and the [plug-in hybrid] system works very well," Di Si added. "So we do have plug-in hybrids in the group. We have the technology." One of the critical things VW needs to continue developing - and it's fully aware of this - is a charging infrastructure with its Electrify America (EA) subsidiary. EA has had its share of problems and, at present, is nowhere near the level it needs to be, specifically when compared to Tesla's vast Supercharger Network.

"Until Electrify America doubles up [its U.S. charging network] in 2025, I think it's a perfect transition. And we have the technology," Di Si pointed out. "We have the systems, we have the engineering, the staff."

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The Audi Q5 55 TFSI e, which features a 17.9-kilowatt-hour battery that enables it to travel up to 23 miles on a single charge, has a combined output of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque thanks to its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and electric motor. That powertrain could very easily be placed into a VW model but the question is, which one? Chances are it would either be the Tiguan or the Atlas. The former is the more likely candidate because it's up for a complete redesign for the 2025 model year.

Launching a PHEV variant at or around the same time makes sense. The automaker has not made any formal announcements at this time but expect to hear more about this subject in the months ahead.

2021-2023 Audi Q5 Forward Vision Audi
2021-2023 Audi Q5 Side Perspective Driving Audi
2021-2023 Audi Q5 Dashboard Audi

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