VW Debuts Tiguan HyMotion Fuel-Cell Vehicle and 2009 Clean Diesel Jetta

  • Published on June 16th, 2008 by
 

VW Tiguan HyMotion Fuel-Cell Vehicle

Tiguan HyMotion Fuel Cell Concept Car

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend a VW press event showing off the new hydrogen fuel cell powered Tiguan. The vehicle (above) is one of only two concept prototypes in the world, and this one was flown in from Germany for its US debut.

The event was originally intended to be a test-drive of the HyMotion Tiguan, but the vehicle was having “electrical problems” that kept it out for display only. A VW spokesperson assured us that it had nothing to do with the fuel cell, but whatever the problem was they didn’t want it to happen to us in mid-day San Francisco traffic.





But it was a good opportunity to get under the hood of a fuel cell powered vehicle. The Tiguan HyMotion has an onboard carbon-fiber tank capable of storing 3.2 kg of compressed hydrogen, which gives it a range of about 160 miles. It has a lithium-ion battery that serves as auxiliary energy storage and is re-powered by braking energy or the fuel cell. (In case you aren’t familiar with fuel cells, they can power an electric drivetrain by using electricity generated from splitting hydrogen molecules. More on how fuel cells work.)

Tiguan HyMotion Fuel Cell Vehicle

Where does the hydrogen come from? Well, noone really knows yet. Unlike GM, who backed a new hydrogen refueling station near LA the other day, VW does not have any plans to invest in infrastructure. The Tiguan HyMotion is just a prototype that allows them to play around with the technology, and they said it was at least 7 years away from any kind of commercial production.

On the other hand, VW did let us test drive the new 2009 2.0L Jetta “clean” TDI Sedan (which will be released in the US in August) and the gas-powered 2.0L Tiguan TSI. I took the wheel of the Tiguan first, which felt like just about any other new car but was noticeably sluggish in responding to the gas pedal. I wasn’t particularly impressed by its 18 mpg city / 25 mpg highway rating either.

But the Jetta sedan was worth waiting around for. Having zero experience with newer diesels (I own a 1987 Toyota Truck, which is a heartless 2L diesel), I was surprised to find out just about everything they’ve been saying is true: the new diesels are so quiet you can hardly tell it’s a diesel, except at idle, and it handles like any other comparable sedan on the road.

It also has power. Close your ears/eyes VW, but during the downtown SF test drive I was somehow able to hit a clear straightaway onto a freeway onramp that left my passenger and I deeply imprinted in our seats. If you’re worried about acceleration and horsepower in these new diesels, well, don’t be.

It’s been several years since VW introduced a new model diesel in the US, due to the implementation of strict new emissions standards. I’ve written before (see Clean Diesel Cars Coming to US This Fall: 2008-2010 Timeline) about how the new clean diesel Jetta has cleaner emissions than your average car. My only gripe is that the EPA mileage estimate is listed as 29 mpg city / 40 mpg highway. Older Jetta’s seem relatively well-known for getting up to 55 mpg, and I’m not sure if the difference has to do with the new emissions technology or changes in horsepower.

Posts Related to Hydrogen Fuel Cells and Clean Diesels:

[More]

Hydrogen refueling:

Tiguan HyMotion Fuel Cell Vehicle

2009 Clean Diesel Jetta TDI Sedan:

2009 Clean Diesel Jetta TDI





About the Author

In a past life, Clayton was a professional blogger and editor of Gas 2.0, Important Media’s blog covering the future of sustainable transportation. He was also the Managing Editor for GO Media, the predecessor to Important Media.

  • The city of Tacoma, WA uses Hydrogen fuel for its city vehicles. Fuel comes from the city sewer plant where it maintains 3 small tanks of compressed Hydrogen from sewer gases. It also sells reclaimed soil to local gardeners. The city also wrote laws making it illegal for local residents to use any kind of hydrogen fuel for transportation. Interesting, no? Te amo, ev.

  • What is the predicted fuel economy for the new Jetta? I have a 2002 Jetta TDI with 152,000 miles on it. I love the vehicle, enjoy driving it, but am considering a trade. Your comments about acceleration are encouraging, but normally that comes with a trade off.

  • What is the predicted fuel economy for the new Jetta? I have a 2002 Jetta TDI with 152,000 miles on it. I love the vehicle, enjoy driving it, but am considering a trade. Your comments about acceleration are encouraging, but normally that comes with a trade off.

  • Pingback: 2009 VW Jetta Mileage Revised to 38/44 MPG. Price? $21,990 : Gas 2.0()

  • James Clark

    I too also noticed my former VW diesels a 1981 pickup and 1985 Jetta got a lot more gas mileage. THe pickup was a gutless wonder but got 40mpg. The Jetta got between 50-55mpg and had a lot of pickup. I thought with knew technology that mpg would be greater. Especially with the trend of fuel prices. Both cars I sold with about 275,000 miles and were in great shape with original clutches and motors and running smoothly.

  • James Clark

    I too also noticed my former VW diesels a 1981 pickup and 1985 Jetta got a lot more gas mileage. THe pickup was a gutless wonder but got 40mpg. The Jetta got between 50-55mpg and had a lot of pickup. I thought with knew technology that mpg would be greater. Especially with the trend of fuel prices. Both cars I sold with about 275,000 miles and were in great shape with original clutches and motors and running smoothly.

  • We can all learn something from what Al Gore had to say the past few weeks. Unless we become self reliant for our energy requirements, we will never again be an independent democratic nation.

    We can start with a fundamental change in our driving habits that is now required.

    The Automobile Industry is going to be in the same position as the Airline Industry in the next few months. Unless we get away from gas combustion vehicles, including Hybrids, the automobile industry (as we know it) will die.We need to make drastic moves. America needs to move to ELECTRIC. The vehicles are not as fast, not always as fun to drive, but the move will save Americans money (Billions) and help bring change to our automotive companies. Let’s “Be Green”!!!!!!!!!!!! BG Automotive Group Ltd. has a car that will travel 80-100 miles per charge for $15,995. Finally a car that most Americans can afford. Did you know that 80% of all drivers, drive less than 50 miles per day? This new car will cost an equivalent of $0.20-0.25 cents/gallon (depending on electricity rates in your area). Why send $700 Billion per year to OPEC (now buying up U.S. companies) when we can use this money for our schools, health care, social security for all Americans, etc, etc, etc. We can make the difference if WE change.

  • We can all learn something from what Al Gore had to say the past few weeks. Unless we become self reliant for our energy requirements, we will never again be an independent democratic nation.

    We can start with a fundamental change in our driving habits that is now required.

    The Automobile Industry is going to be in the same position as the Airline Industry in the next few months. Unless we get away from gas combustion vehicles, including Hybrids, the automobile industry (as we know it) will die.We need to make drastic moves. America needs to move to ELECTRIC. The vehicles are not as fast, not always as fun to drive, but the move will save Americans money (Billions) and help bring change to our automotive companies. Let’s “Be Green”!!!!!!!!!!!! BG Automotive Group Ltd. has a car that will travel 80-100 miles per charge for $15,995. Finally a car that most Americans can afford. Did you know that 80% of all drivers, drive less than 50 miles per day? This new car will cost an equivalent of $0.20-0.25 cents/gallon (depending on electricity rates in your area). Why send $700 Billion per year to OPEC (now buying up U.S. companies) when we can use this money for our schools, health care, social security for all Americans, etc, etc, etc. We can make the difference if WE change.

  • Paul Nault

    My only concern, regarding the plug-in electric cars, is what will happen to the power-grid during the evening hours when a few million owners plug in? We already have brown-outs in major cities during maximum air conditioning use. I will hold my breath when electric cars are added to that mix.

    I think, for the time being, we are stuck with petroleum driven vehicles and fuel-cell technology. So, get a bicycle to “drive” on your shorter trips. Good for the economy (mine), health, great exercise, controlling the waistline, etc.

  • Paul Nault

    My only concern, regarding the plug-in electric cars, is what will happen to the power-grid during the evening hours when a few million owners plug in? We already have brown-outs in major cities during maximum air conditioning use. I will hold my breath when electric cars are added to that mix.

    I think, for the time being, we are stuck with petroleum driven vehicles and fuel-cell technology. So, get a bicycle to “drive” on your shorter trips. Good for the economy (mine), health, great exercise, controlling the waistline, etc.

  • Paul Nault

    My only concern, regarding the plug-in electric cars, is what will happen to the power-grid during the evening hours when a few million owners plug in? We already have brown-outs in major cities during maximum air conditioning use. I will hold my breath when electric cars are added to that mix.

    I think, for the time being, we are stuck with petroleum driven vehicles and fuel-cell technology. So, get a bicycle to “drive” on your shorter trips. Good for the economy (mine), health, great exercise, controlling the waistline, etc.