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LA show: VW Golf in ‘HyMotion’

Different strokes: VW says its focus is on integrating fuel cell technology into mass-market models that have practicality and affordability on their side, however it won’t yet commit to production.

No date set, but fuel cell version of Golf wagon proves VW ready for mass production

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Volkswagen logo20 Nov 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

VOLKSWAGEN has made it clear that it will not be left behind in hydrogen fuel-cell development, using the Los Angeles motor show this week to present a ‘HyMotion’ version of its Golf wagon that demonstrates the implementation of the technology on its mass-production MQB platform.

As its luxury division Audi presented its unique A7 Sportback h-tron, the European auto giant stopped short of committing to a production timetable for the Golf SportWagon HyMotion, or any other model fitted with its latest fuel cell system including the Passat HyMotion prototype also on display in, and being driven around, LA.

This contrasts with Toyota, which used the LA show to present its Mirai sedan in final production guise ahead of its launch in Japan this month and its debut in the US and Europe in 2015.

Honda also unveiled an FCV concept in LA which points the way to a new-generation hydrogen-powered car that succeeds the FCX Clarity and is set to reach fuel-cell-friendly markets early in 2016.

Volkswagen is not yet prepared to take the next step to production for its fuel-cell vehicles, despite ongoing work with mass-market nameplates such as Golf.

“Before the market launch, a hydrogen infrastructure must first be created,” the company says.

“This means not only a broad network of hydrogen fuel stations, but also the production of the hydrogen itself, because hydrogen only makes sense as a source of drive energy if the primary energy used to produce it comes from renewable energy sources.”

A key point of differentiation with the Volkswagen Group is that its strategy focuses on implementing its alternative drivetrains, including fuel cell, into high-volume vehicles.

“As (with) the all-electric e-Golf and the Golf GTE that is equipped with a plug-in hybrid drive, future fuel cell drives would also be integrated into a production model that has everyday practicality, has been optimally engineered and is offered at an attractive price,” Volkswagen says.

“It was with this objective in mind that several research vehicles were built based on the American Passat, in which the same drive components are used as in the Golf SportWagon HyMotion. The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California.”

As GoAuto has reported, the MQB modular platform is a key part of Volkswagen’s global expansion program and its strategy to topple Toyota as the world’s biggest-selling motor company.

It will underpin as many as 60 models across a variety of segments – from sub-compact passenger cars to mid-size SUVs – for several brands including Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat.

The company said this week that hydrogen fuel-cell technology could be implemented with the MQB platform “as soon as research and development work has been completed and a solution could be developed whose price would be acceptable to new-car buyers”.

Like the A7 h-tron, the Golf HyMotion’s fuel-cell system incorporates a lithium-ion battery from an existing plug-in model – in this case, the full-electric e-Golf – which improves acceleration and stores kinetic energy recovered from regenerative braking.

The fuel cell stack is used to create drive energy for a 100kW electric motor – also sourced from the e-Golf – that turns with zero emissions and enables the front-wheel-drive small station wagon to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10.0 seconds.

The hydrogen is stored in four carbon-fibre tanks located underneath the vehicle. Their capacity enables a driving range of around 500km.

Volkswagen boasts that the Golf offers more drive types than another other car on the market, including petrol engines (TSI), diesel engines (TDI), natural gas (TGI), electric drive (e-Golf) and plug-in hybrid drive (Golf GTE).

The German car-maker also used the LA show to unveil a high-performance 221kW all-wheel-drive R version of the Golf wagon.

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