The Toyota Prius is one of the reasons Volkswagen got itself into the diesel emissions mess it is in. When the Prius was first introduced, the suits in Wolfsburg decided they could get fuel economy that was just as good as the Prius without the expense of developing hybrid technology. Looking back on it, Volkswagen would probably would like to have a do over of that decision.
Now that it is clear the diesel engine will not be Volkswagen’s magic bullet for meeting tougher fuel economy and emissions standards, the company has to come up with a Plan B. In this case, the plan has two parts: make plug-in hybrid cars in the near future and move toward all electric cars as soon as possible.
Now, according to Auto Express, there may be a corollary to Plan B — building hybrid cars similar to the Prius. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In an exclusive interview with VW’s new brand boss Dr Herbert Diess, Auto Express was told that that VW now acknowledges that electric cars should be built on a chassis dedicated exclusively to such vehicles.
“If you look further, then it’s probably worthwhile thinking of an entirely new architecture because then you can let go of the technical components you put in the car because of the combustion engine,” said Diess. “You gain a lot of space in the interior, for instance. For a full EV, you get one size bigger on the interior for the exterior dimensions, so in the length of a Golf you get the interior of a Passat.”
For Volkswagen, that new chassis is designated MEB. It’s the platform the BUDD-e concept that debuted at the Consumer Electronics show in January was built on. Now, Diess indicates a new hybrid car called the XL3 may be built on that chassis as well. It is likely to have an electric motor producing around 30 horsepower coupled to a a detuned version of VW’s 1.4-litre turbocharged gasoline engine. Cylinder deactivation will probably be used to save even more fuel. It’s expected to have a relatively small battery which will give it an electric-only range of just a few miles.
The hybrid car is expected to burn only 3 liters of fuel to cover 100 kilometers. That would give it fuel economy equivalent to 94 mpg it the European test cycle or about 55 – 60 mpg in EPA testing. Volkswagen introduced its super high fuel economy XL1 a few years back. The name for that car came from the fact that is needs only one liter of fuel to travel 100 kilometers. The XL3 name follows the same logic — 3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers.
There is no word at this time as to when the XL3 might arrive or what it will cost.
Photo credits: Auto Express