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Volkswagen U.S. Plans: Plug-In Hybrids, TDI But Not BlueMotion

At the Paris auto show, we were given the opportunity to sit down with Volkswagen’s head of development, Ulrich Hackenberg, to learn where the company is headed. Besides reiterating the obvious—that the company is neck-deep in the implementation of its MQB and MLB modular architectures—Hackenberg shed some light on VW’s hybrid, diesel, and electric strategies moving forward. Chiefly, the company will offer both diesel and hybrid models in the future, though it won’t assign its fuel-efficient models here in the U.S. a specific brand name as it does with its ultra-efficient BlueMotion diesel models in Europe. (So count out the new Golf BlueMotion that debuted in Paris last week.) Read on for more specifics on what we learned:

First up, the diesel strategy: The long and short of it is that Volkswagen will continue to send us TDI diesel models. The company confirmed it will expand diesel availability to an additional model—Hackenberg says to expect the next-generation Tiguan to finally offer a diesel engine option here in the U.S. The current iteration of the small crossover offers diesel power elsewhere, and we initially reported on the possibility in April 2011, but we’ll consider this the final nail in the confirmation. (We also drove the current-gen model with a TDI overseas.)

Besides not getting the BlueMotion badge here in the states, we also won’t get intense Golf BlueMotion–style upgrades for U.S.-market TDI models in the future. VW doesn’t think American consumers will want to pay extra for things like unique transmission gearing, aerodynamic add-ons, and weight savings for specific trim levels. (Tell that to Chevy, Ford, and others, all of whom offer fuel-economy packages for their small cars.) We’re told simpler tweaks like the company’s so-called “sail” function for the transmission, which can disconnect the engine from the drive wheels to enable fuel-saving coasting at higher speeds, and engine stop-start tech potentially could make it to U.S. diesel models. (Both features already come standard on the gas-powered Touareg hybrid, and stop-start is standard on all seventh-generation Golfs, including the diesel TDI models.)


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