Toyota and Honda are not the only ones showcasing fuel cells in Los Angeles: Volkswagen also did.

Volkswagen unveiled as a world premiere its Golf SportWagen HyMotion at the Los Angeles auto show.

Golf SportWagen HyMotion is described by the company as a research vehicle with a fuel cell powertrain.

VW said the front-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen HyMotion accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) in 10.0 seconds flat. The hydrogen is stored in four high-tech carbon fiber tanks, which are located in the underbody, where they are said not to impede on interior space. Their fuel capacity enables a driving range of 310 miles (500 kilometers), and they can be refilled in about three minutes.

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Volkswagen stated unlike many of its competitors,it is following the strategy of placing alternative drivetrains in high-volume production vehicles. Just like the all-electric e-Golf and the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, the SportWagen HyMotion shows how fuel cells could be integrated into a well-engineered, usable, and attractively priced vehicle.

A fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California.

A fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California.

Several research vehicles have been built based on the U.S. version of the Passat, using the same drive components as fitted in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion, added VW. The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California.

VW explained the key drive components of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion were developed by Volkswagen Group Research in Germany. The fuel cell system has a system power of 100 kilowatt. In addition, the concept car has a high-voltage lithium-ion battery, which stores the kinetic energy recovered from regenerative braking, assists in the starting phase of the fuel cell and adds a dynamic boost to the maximum acceleration of the Golf SportWagen.

The battery power and electric motor are said by VW to have been adapted from the e-Golf.

The mechanical underpinnings for this fuel cell car are based on the company’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB).

As we stand, the Golf is already offered with gasoline engines (TSI), diesel engines (TDI), an electric drive (e-Golf) and, in some markets outside the U.S., natural gas and plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

Volkswagen stated it is showing the Golf SportWagen HyMotion to demonstrate for the first time how a hydrogen fuel cell could be implemented in an MQB-based vehicle.


Volkswagen has integrated the drive components of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion in the front of the car. The battery is housed above the rear suspension, and the tanks are mounted in the vehicle floor. This layout allows the interior of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion to offer, according to VW, the same amount of space as in all other versions of the model

As stated earlier, the electric motor was adapted from the new e-Golf, and the motor and coaxial two-stage 1-speed transmission are located at the front of the engine compartment; both components were developed by the company. VW added also arranged in the engine compartment are the stacks of the hydrogen fuel cell; the cooling system; a tri-port converter that regulates the voltage between the electric motor, the fuel cell and the lithium-ion battery; and the turbo compressor. The latter ensures that oxygen from the surrounding air flows into the fuel cell.

The power electronics are located in the center tunnel area; they convert the direct current (DC) into three-phase alternating current (AC) which is used to drive the motor. The power electronics also integrate a DC/DC converter, which converts energy from the high-voltage battery to 12 volts to supply the 12-volt electrical system.

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery is mounted close to the trunk and rear suspension, explained VW. The 12 volt battery is also mounted at the rear. Two of the total of four carbon fiber composite hydrogen tanks are housed under the rear seat (where the fuel tank would be on a gasoline car) and the other two in the luggage compartment floor. The hydrogen is stored in the tanks at a pressure of 700 bar (10,150 psi).

The lithium-ion battery is the second powerplant in the vehicle, explained VW, and stores the energy recovered during regenerative braking. It is also an important component in all phases during which the chemical reaction needs to be initiated by feeding oxygen and hydrogen to the fuel cell (the latter via the turbo compressor), such as when driving off from a start. At this point in time, the fuel cell has not built up enough electrical power to drive the motor by itself. In these phases, the lithium-ion battery jumps into action and supplies energy to the electric motor. The high-voltage battery also operates like a turbocharger during fast acceleration and while accelerating to top speed. In what is referred to as boosting, the fuel cell and battery work in an alliance to supply overall system power of 100 kilowatt.