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Volkswagen go hybrid

After Volkswwagen's Golf won the European car of the year at the Geneva Motor Show, VW's chief engineer, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg has been outlining the way forward for the German car maker's future Golf models. Hackenberg is the engineer responsible for VW's XL1 hyper-efficient two seat vehicle which records an astonishing 314mpg. While only 250 XL1s will be built, at a cost of around ?100,000, Hackenberg reckons every future VW car will benefit from the technology.

After Volkswwagen's Golf won the European car of the year at the Geneva Motor Show, VW's chief engineer, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg has been outlining the way forward for the German car maker's future Golf models. Hackenberg is the engineer responsible for VW's XL1 hyper-efficient two seat vehicle which records an astonishing 314mpg. While only 250 XL1s will be built, at a cost of around ?100,000, Hackenberg reckons every future VW car will benefit from the technology. The German manufacturer is betting heavily on plug-in hybrids because they reckon that the economy, usability and lack of range anxiety compared with all-electric vehicles is a winning combination.

 
VW's hybrids will be designed to take advantage of today's driving patterns as Hackenberg outlines: "All our hybrids will start up as a battery-powered car, because most journeys begin in the city. It's quiet and good for emissions. This allows the battery to discharge and accept regenerative braking at higher speeds out of town, when the internal combustion engine fires up." The VW hybrids will also utilise other technologies to maximise fuel consumption. Freewheeling capability for example uses a decoupling system to eliminate friction from engine braking while cruising. With such technologies in place Hackenberg estimates that a new plug-in hybrid Golf could reach fuel consumption figures of 155mpg. Although this figure includes periods of electric-only running, the car should still achieve consumption in the real world in the 70mpg range.
 
VW reckons it can bring the cost of such vehicles down too by integrating the hybrid layout into its basic platforms. The MQB platform, for example, which provides the basis for the new Golf, Skoda Octavia, Audi A3 and Seat Leon, is designed to accommodate normal, hybrid or all-electric set-ups without any re-engineering. This ability to build hybrid cars without the need for re-tooling the factories means that VW can build them cheaper, which means that the public should in turn be able to buy hybrids for less cash.
 
The first model to benefit from the technology of the XL1 might be VW's city car, the Up. It seems that plans are already underway to launch an Up with a tuned XL1 powertrain which will deliver 256mpg. VW recognises the challenges imposed by hybrid cars and is looking at ways to counter the 200kg weight gain on the vehicles. It plans to achieve this by incorporating carbon fibre body parts and is experimenting with injection moulding the panels to remove the costly baking part of the process and reduce costs. Hard-pressed motorists will be hoping that those super mpg figures will soon reduce costs at the pumps too.

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