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VW rules out automatic start for hybrids

Not here: The Volkswagen Touareg hybrid – which uses 8.2 litres per 100km – has been ruled out for Australia.

Volkswagen Australia says no to hybrid Touareg and may pass on other hybrids

15 Jul 2010

VOLKSWAGEN Australia will say no to hybrid versions of its cars offered overseas unless they are affordable and offer considerable efficiency gains.

The company is sticking to its guns and resisting the temptation to introduce a hybrid version of its Touareg SUV in Australia when the new range is introduced here next year.

That sits in contrast with Porsche, now owned by Volkswagen, which introduced a hybrid version of the Cayenne SUV hybrid, last week in Australia.

The Touareg hybrid and Cayenne hybrid were jointly developed by Volkswagen and Porsche and share the same petrol electric components.

While Porsche Australia deems the advanced petrol-electric model worthy of a place in its line-up alongside petrol and diesel units, Volkswagen believes the hybrid doesn’t deserve a spot in the local showroom because it is not economical enough.

“We have stated that we won’t take hybrid Touareg because the cost of the hybrid Touareg and the fuel consumption figures, it is still more efficient to take the diesel,” said Volkswagen Australia spokesman Karl Gehling.

3 center imageFrom top: Volkswagen Touareg Hybrid drivetrain, Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TwinDrive.

Having already presented the hybrid Touareg, Volkswagen AG also announced it is developing hybrid petrol-electric versions of the Golf, Jetta and Passat, but it appears Volkswagen Australia is in no hurry to introduce them locally.

“It all depends on how efficient and how much they are going to be,” Mr Gehling said.

“The hybrid thing is tempered by the fact that we have very efficient standard diesel engines and in some cases they are as economical as existing hybrid vehicles and with Blue Motion technology it takes us to a new level in terms of efficiency,” he said.

“There are a lot of hybrids out there that are not delivering the same efficiency as a diesel.”

Volkswagen’s Blue Motion green sub-brand is available in most markets, although not Australia, because our environment is considered too harsh, with temperatures too high.

Volkswagen Australia is confident there will be no problem with the technology, which overseas includes everything from engine idle-stop ability to low-resistance tyres and compressed natural gas (CNG) engines, but is seemingly getting nowhere with head office.

“We are still classified as a hot country,” Mr Gehling said.

VW Australia is hoping VW engineers will continue to develop Blue Motion vehicles for additional markets including Australia.

Australia will also miss out a global trial of electric Golfs being done by Volkswagen with a view to introducing a production version in 2013.

“We are not doing any planning on electric Golfs at the moment,” he said. “They are doing the 500 fleet as a way of assessing the market for it, but Volkswagen is certainly investigating electric options for a number of models.”

Mr Gehling indicated there was little chance of an electric VW being introduced locally without significant government incentives and a comprehensive charging network.

“They (Volkswagen) have been very clear that if you are going to offer electric vehicles, there has also got to be some investment on the government level and the infrastructure network to make it practical and functional,” he said.

While Volkswagen Australia is not interested in the Touareg hybrid, its parent company is excited, trumpeting that it is “the first and only off-roader in Europe by a German car-maker to be available in a hybrid version.”

The vehicle, which GoAuto tested in prototype form last year, can be driven up to 50km/h using electricity alone. The two-mode parallel-drive hybrid, which uses a 35kW electric motor teamed with a 250kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6, enables good fuel economy and performance.

Volkswagen says it returns average fuel consumption of just 8.2 litres per 100km, which is impressive for a petrol SUV. The full-sized SUV is also able to dash from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds and run all the way to 240km/h.

Of course, the V6 TDI version of the next generation Touareg is even more efficient, consuming an 7.4L/100km of diesel fuel.

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