VW Goes Hybrid with Gas-Electric Jetta in 2012

In one more sign that the automotive world is shifting to electric-drive technology, Volkswagen today reconfirmed its commitment to producing a hybrid version of its popular Jetta. A gas-electric Jetta, to debut in 2012, would put another affordable mainstream hybrid option into showrooms.

Affordability is the key word, as hybrids push further into mainstream vehicle lineups. The new (gas-powered) 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, which made its global debut in New York today, is priced at $16,000, about $1,700 less than the current version. “With the new Jetta, we’ve kept everything people liked, but also made the car more accessible to the entry-level buyer in the compact segment,” said Toscan Bennett, a VW product strategist. “We want people who had considered Jettas too expensive to put us on their shopping lists.”

Later this year, Volkswagen will introduce the Touareg Hybrid SUV, its first hybrid, but it will hardly be affordable. Based on pricing announced in Europe, the Touareg Hybrid could exceed $90,000 in the U.S. Moreover, it will join a crowded field of expensive luxury hybrid SUVs already on the market—and not selling particularly well.

On the other hand, a Jetta Hybrid probably will probably be priced in the low $20,000s, while offering fuel economy numbers in the mid-40 mpg range. It will represent the first time an automaker stacks up a hybrid and clean diesel option in a cost-competitive model.

City versus Highway

The Jetta TDI clean diesel, rated at 30 in the city and 41 on the highway, carries a base MSRP of $22,000. It’s way too early for fuel efficiency ratings for the Jetta Hybrid, but it’s reasonable to assume that the city and highway numbers will be reversed—with city driving in the 40s and highway mileage in the low to mid-30 neighborhood. Consumers are likely to make the hybrid versus diesel decision based on their driving cycle. Do you mostly drive on the highway? Go diesel. Mostly city driving? Take the hybrid. (Of course, we’ll have to wait and see how a VW hybrid will drive.)

More importantly to the green car movement, Volkswagen is demonstrating the “no silver bullet” philosophy, in which efficient gas-powered cars, clean diesel, hybrids and electric cars mutually coexist. Cutting oil dependence and reducing emissions is not an either-or decision. It’s all of the above.

In terms of electrification, Volkswagen is saying that electric-drive cars will come in a range—from conventionally hybrid through pure electric. (Ford is taking the same electrification approach.) With a lower price tag and no range concerns, hybrids will become the most affordable and accessible in the spectrum—while Volkswagen electric cars will take the critical step towards petroleum-free driving.

“VW as a brand takes the electrification of the automobile very seriously, and we have a longtime strategy for growing that business,” Mr. Bennett said. “The Jetta hybrid is our first entry in that strategy.”

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  • Anonymous

    > More importantly to the green car movement, Volkswagen is
    > demonstrating the “no silver bullet” philosophy, in which efficient
    > gas-powered cars, clean diesel, hybrids and electric cars mutually
    > coexist.

    Very well said. I think the future is anyway not one single technology (why do the same mistake again and bet everything on one card?). I hope the future is a combination of different technologies, that existing ones get improved while new ones get added. That way no single resource has to be overused or overproduced and everyone can choose what fits their lifestyle best.

    For me, I would be fine 99% of the time with pure elecitric with a range of <25 miles - for the rest of the time, I could proablay rent/borrow another car. Most people probably need a higher range - but that is why there should be more choice to select the (almost) perfect match.

  • Charles

    If it comes in the wagon version and it holds two bicycles as well as my 2004 Focus wagon, I may have found my next car. If I can only get over how much time my 1999 Passat wagon spent in the shop.

  • 9691


  • usbseawolf2000

    “Do you mostly drive on the highway? Go diesel. Mostly city driving? Take the hybrid.”

    What if the hybrid version is just as good on the highway?

  • JamesDavis

    They are hacking down all the ‘feel good’ parts of the cars and hacking up all the prices. It takes a lot less effort to make an electric car as it does a fossil fuel car…so why the price hikes? Japan has developed a super charge station that can power up an electric car in 15 minutes. Give us electric cars and hack those prices down some more.

  • Anonymous

    Charles, don’t forget that Toyota is supposedly coming out next year or early 2012 with the Sienna in hybrid form. Also, there has been a growing rumor of a coming wagon design within the Prius brand name. And if Toyota is almost here with their vehicles, one knows that Honda and Nissan will not be far behind with their vehicles also, let alone VW and other manufactures.

  • simon@syd

    I wonder about the rear seat and the battery. Not being able to put a long load through the folding down rear seats is actually a major issue, with the sedan shaped hybrids that I’ve seen. Bring on a hybrid station wagon with fully retractable rear seats! I guess its where lithium will make a difference: smaller battery.

  • Gary

    If the hybrid and the diesel get the same average mpg, then the diesel will have about 10% higher CO2 emissions due to the higher BTU and carbon content of the diesel fuel — this would be an important deciding factor to me.

    Just as Kid above, my Prius gets slightly better mileage on the highway than in the city. This does not seem that unreasonable to me given the low drag coeficient, and the ability to size the more efficient Atkinson cycle engine to average load rather than peak (hill climbing or passing) load.

  • Samie

    First Anonymous

    I agree with gas-powered cars, clean diesel, hybrids and electric cars as a good mix BUT when the “no silver bullet philosophy” includes ethanol/E85, biofuels, fuel cells, hydrogen, natural gas LNG/CNG as part of the “no silver bullet philosophy” I can’t help but disagree. I always try to remind people that there are some valid reasons why petroleum is king (for over 100 years!) including its great combustion rates per volume. Also some of the other technologies I mentioned have unintended consequences similar to the problems we deal with in our current addiction to oil. Some technologies are valid such as fuel cells, algae biofuel????, and possibly hydrogen but we must invest in these as a long-term strategies not the non-renewable short-term schemes that are currently being dreamed up or already in play, such as corn ethanol.

  • Anonymous


  • ex-EV1 driver

    “no silver bullet”

    Let’s all repeat the mantra again:
    we won’t change!
    we’re going to find a problem with the electric motor if it’s the last thing we do!
    until we find the fatal flaw with the electric drivetrain, we’ll skew all the facts surrounding any difference to make them appear like a problem!
    we love our ICE and won’t admit that it is just plain better until we’ve exhausted every single possible ICE based alternative and had every possible showstopper we’ve publicized debunked!

    VW: go back into your cave (with your buddies BMW and Daimler Benz) and die with the dinosaurs you insist on burning for fuel.

  • Dom

    I for one am happy to see VW offering customers more choices. I’m extremely interested to see how their hybrid will compare to the TDI diesel model. I won’t be switching as the TDI already won me over from the hybrid camp, but everybody has different needs and wants. I don’t know if there is a silver bullet technology or not, but I think the market should decide which technologies succeed, instead of the government pushing a particular technology. Maybe electric drive will be the future, maybe it won’t. Oh, and I don’t think VW will be dying anytime soon… they’re what, the worlds second largest automaker?

  • Dom

    Oh, and VW, kudos for more options, but what some of us would really like is a smaller TDI engine that is even more fuel efficient. The 2.0L is great and all, but in the Jetta is rather overkill. Some would like less power more mpg. Oh, and while you’re at it, bring the Amarok TDI to the US…

  • Anonymous

    I’ll never forget my 1984 VW Rabbit GTI. You didn’t get into that car, you wore it. It was cheap, light, fun and ok on gas.
    So what happened, why didn’t I stick with the brand?
    Reliability and cost.
    Let us remember the late ’80s, ’90s and early 2000.
    Rock solid german engineering no more.
    Affordability (The People’s Car) no more.

    So I went Japanese. Super reliable but not as much fun as the VW (although the ’95 Toyota 4Runner V6 5 speed came close in it’s own way…but only if I pretended I wasn’t really driving a one star crash test death trap).

    Let’s see if VW can get back to it’s roots and stop pretending it’s a luxurious brand—leave that to Audi. I like that they’re trying to get less expensive, but it would take a solid reliability track record and some pretty high MPGs to get me to plop down my hard earned cash for a VW again.

  • Mr. Fusion

    That was my ’84 GTI comment above. Forgot to log in.

  • joe pah

    I would never touch a VW again, after my Squareback and Rabbit diesel disasters. VW’s act like a luxury brand when you have to repair them.
    Count me interested when VW group starts producing a boxster hybrid.

  • usbseawolf2000

    Hybrid attacks the emission in the engine. Diesel filters the emission in the exhaust.

    Diesel exhaust requires maintenance. Hybrid battery is maintenance free with lifetime warranty*.

    * – 10 years / 150k miles in CARB states.

  • caffeinekid

    My Prius does better on the freeway than it does in the city. Why? The battery depletes fairly quickly and causes the engine to activate in order to recharge- all of this at lower speeds that require more initial torque to keep things moving, hence- more reliance on the engine to move and lower MPG. It averages about 46mpg with the AC going in 100 degree weather. When I don’t use the AC, it gets closer to 49mpg.

    I also have a VW TDI that will get 40mpg on the freeways, but only on relatively long distance trips. Otherwise it averages about 36mpg.

    I put next to nothing into maintenance on the Prius, while the Jetta is a different story….and then there is the premium on diesel fuel. I won’t use biodiesel in it because I don’t trust it with the what is it….18K psi PD fuel injection?

    The idea of a VW gas-electric hybrid, even though it would seem less costly considering the lower maintenance involved with electric drive actually scares the hell out of me. Many of the maintenance issues that VW is infamous for stem from electrical component failures, not the engines. Why amplify the negative?

  • Hal Howell

    As a former Jetta owner my concern would be for maintenance costs. I drive an ’07 Prius and I love the fact that at 30,000 I DIDN’T have to spend $350 for maintenance costs! We enjoyed driving our Jetta and for the most part they were good cars but as they aged they began to cost more, a lot more to keep running. We have had electrical issues and that always seemed to be a problem with VW. The seats wore out before 80,000 miles! I wish them success as they finally venture into Hybrid territory, but I will stick with my Prius!

  • Air_Z

    I would be willing to take a chance on W’s ability to build the electric part of this hybrid but have very little confidence that it can build a durable long lasting gasoline engine.

    Will the gas burner sludge like the 1.8t? Will it have a plastic oil dipstick holder that falls apart with pieces ending up on the oil pump pick-up screen? Will it have a PCV system with various hoses and check valves that need to be maintained/replaced or the engine starts blowing valve cover haskets and leaking oil?

    It’s easy for them to say this is all in the past, but in the end VW doesn’t get stuck with these problems, I do. My Passat is the only gauge that I have to judge how reliable this new car could be. Will have to wait and let others take a chance on this new car before I do.

  • Joseph Basal

    I presently have a2010 VWTDI and a22005 Jetta2.5 liter Ihave owned a 1967 Beattle, a1995 Audi, a 2000 Audi 90, a2001 VW TDIan Audi a Audi 5000 a VW wagen 2008 and I must say the all have been great in many ways looks, economy, performance.there have beensome repairs but the Audi an VW Maint. plans took care of most repairs. Remember on the TDI you musr religiously make sure you buy it at a Service station that keep gas and diesel tanks separate and use Stanadyne Lubricity and Performance additives on a regular basis!!!

  • Joseph Basal

    Please add fuel to the last paragraph

  • Joseph Basal

    Please remove this article