Originally published on Gas2.
German automakers are producing plug-in hybrid electric models like bunny rabbits hump these days. They’re yet to put anything together that comes close to the Tesla Model S, but they are head over heels for a complicated ICE + electric motor + battery + gas/petrol/diesel combo. Basically, regulations in Europe are forcing them to jump into the higher-efficiency electricity game, and for reasons we can all conjecture about, they’re focusing their time, attention, and cash on plug-in hybrids. (The cynical among us think it’s because they’re trying to delay the EV revolution, while others think it’s a good idea to simply give consumers a stepping stone to the EV future.)
Anyhow, the point is, there are a lot of plug-in hybrid models hitting the market and planned for the coming years. For example, the VW Golf GTE, Audi A3 e-tron, Audi Q7 e-tron, BMW 740e, BMW 330e, BMW X5 eDrive, Hyundai Tucson PHEV, Volvo XC90 PHEV, BMW i5, and the list goes on and on. It’s getting hard to keep track.
That all leads us to today (or yesterday, as it may be), and the launch of the VW Passat GTE. This is VW’s second plug-in hybrid based off of a popular conventional car model (following the VW GTE mentioned above). Here are some specs on the new model:
- 160 kW / 218 PS
- 1.6 l/100 km and 12.2 kWh/100 km (Variant: 12.4 kWh)
- all-electric range of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles)
Something you surely noticed there is that the specs are for the European market, and as far as we are aware, that’s the only place you’ll be able to buy this vehicle… at least for a while. While automakers need to make some plug-in cars for the California and some other US markets (or pay for it), the demands apparently aren’t strong enough to get these plug-in hybrids in the US nearly as fast as they arrive in Europe.
Getting back to the Passat GTE, the car has a nice feature that is not common in plug-in hybrids. You can choose whether or not to drive in electric mode. Why is this nice? Well, if you’ve got a long trip that mixes city driving with highway driving, you’re better off using the car in “E-Mode” in the city, so you can just turn off E-Mode on the highway and save enough battery for the city portion (or portions) of your trip. This is also particularly useful in London and other cities where you can avoid congestion charges if you are driving on electricity, something that some EV experts I talked with in the Netherlands are convinced will more quickly push people and automakers into the EV future.
Here are some more details on the Passat GTE from Volkswagen:
The Passat GTE is an independent trim line. The high-tech model’s extensive standard features include LED headlights (for main and dipped beam), Driver Alert System, Automatic Post-Collision Braking, the Front Assist ambient traffic monitoring system including City Emergency Braking function, a rain sensor, ParkPilot for front and rear, chrome trim on the side windows and comfort seats (in the front).
In addition, there are elements of individualisation that have been conceived solely for the Passat GTE. These include at the front a specific chrome radiator grille unit with an integrated striking blue stripe – blue being the colour of Volkswagen electric motoring. The Passat GTE’s progressive charisma is strengthened by the completely redesigned bumper with a C-shaped LED daytime running light signature. In common with the blue design elements, this C-shaped signature is an identifying feature of all Volkswagen electric and plug-in hybrid models. From the side the 17-inch Montpellier alloy wheels identify the Passat GTE as a plug-in hybrid. The interior too has been conceptually aligned to the new drive system. Here the engineers and designers have tailored the instrument cluster and standard Composition Media infotainment system with dedicated menu matrix to the functions and displays specific to the plug-in hybrid’s drive system. Standard details such as the blue ambient lighting, the multi-function leather steering wheel with blue decorative stitching, a GTE-specific gear knob with blue stitching and the seats, likewise with a matching blue basic structure, have also been individualised. The interior has been further refined with aluminium-look and gloss black trim.
The Passat GTE** and Passat GTE Variant*** will arrive on the European market this autumn; in the first few countries advance sales have already begun. In Asia the launch will also be this year. In terms of the brand, the Passat GTE is an elementary building block in Volkswagen’s electric motoring strategy.
Notice no mention of the US at the end there….
Even more details about the Passat GTE can be found here.