The 2012 Jetta Hybrid will emphasize power instead of efficiency. That’s according to comments made by Michael Hinz, Jetta technical project manager, published today by UK’s Autocar website.
“Are hybrids really fuel efficient? Not really, as you are adding more weight,” said Hinz. “Yes, we could do a power hybrid. We’re certainly not going to do both. You must decide to go with one or the other.” According to Autocar, Volkswagen has made the decision to go with power—unlike VW’s first hybrid, the Touareg Hybrid, which (although a large and powerful vehicle) was designed with efficiency as a priority.
Nearly every major automaker is starting to produce hybrids—creating a challenge for those who are late to the game. Engineers need to steer clear of patent infringements, and aim for a combination of driving dynamics, performance and mileage that will appeal to the company’s core customers. “We’re not an experienced hybrid maker like Toyota or Honda, so we don’t just want to come up with what everyone else already has,” said Hinz. It’s not clear if VW’s attempt at a power hybrid will succeed where Honda’s similar approach—in cars such as the CR-Z hybrid coupe and the discontinued Accord Hybrid—has fallen short.
As we reported in August, Volkswagen ruled out offering a hybrid with a diesel engine, because of cost.
Wrapped in the sheetmetal of the newly introduced Jetta, the 2012 gas-electric Jetta will be a full hybrid—utilizing VW’s twincharger TSI in-line four cylinder. The twincharger TSI, which incorporates both a supercharger and a turbocharger, has been available in Europe since 2006 in the VW Golf. The supercharger provides boost at low rpm with the turbo kicking in for top-end power. Combined with direct injection, the forced induction gives the 1.4-liter four nearly the same performance as the 2.0-liter turbo, but is more efficient and therefore delivers higher fuel mileage and fewer emissions.
Volkswagen has not released official MPG and horsepower numbers for the Jetta Hybrid. We expect that it would compete with the Jetta TDI’s 30 mpg city / 42 mpg highway numbers—with likely higher mpg in the city than on the highway.
Jetta Will Indicate VW’s Hybrid Strategy
The 2011 Touareg Hybrid, pairs a 333 horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged direct injection V6 gasoline engine with a 34-kilowatt (47 horsepower) electric motor. It’s priced at $60,565, plus $820 in destination fees.
Other hybrid models, including the Passat and Golf, are expected in the next three years. The final decisions about how much to focus on power instead of efficiency in the Jetta will likely carry over to future VW hybrids.
During a press conference we attended in July in Palo Alto, Calif., Volkswagen chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn said that Volkswagen hybrid and electric vehicles will account for three percent of the German carmaker’s global sales by 2018. This echoes statements made in June 2010 by Toscan Bennett, a VW product strategist. “VW as a brand takes the electrification of the automobile very seriously, and we have a longtime strategy for growing that business,” said Bennet. “The Jetta hybrid is our first entry in that strategy.”