A wider range of SUVs, two new engine families and electrified cars head Volkswagen’s wish-list as it seeks to plug gaps in its range, says the company’s Head of Research and Development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg.
The average CO2 figure for the VW range is currently 132g/km – just outside the 130g/km target which the EU insists auto-makers must meet by 2015. The next Golf Bluemotion (85g/km) will help bring down the average further, and VW is planning a CNG-fuelled version of its smallest car, the up! (79g/km) to add further impetus. Next year there will be a battery-electric up!, to be followed by an electric Golf.
Electrification alone will not help VW hit future emissions targets, however, especially with the EU pressing for a 95g/km average in 2020. “A third will have to come from drivetrains, a third from the car and we will have to go to alternative technology for maybe 10%,” says Hackenberg.
Improvements to internal combustion engines, which will continue to dominate until at least well into the next decade, will have the most significant impact. VW is working on two new engine families – small three-cylinder units and four-cylinder alternatives of between 1.2 and 1.6 litres. There will also be a new three-cylinder diesel range, which Hackenberg says will become much more important than the current power units because they will be the starting block for the group’s next Bluemotion family of high-economy models. Three-cylinder engines give greater scope for savings because they create less internal friction than four-cylinder engines, he says.
Increasing use of start/stop systems, improved engine thermal dynamics, brake energy recuperation and electronic assistance for turbochargers to reduce throttle lag are all in the pipeline.
So is a small, Polo-based SUV or crossover for what is one of the few growth segments in Europe at the moment. “We have to increase our range of SUVs and move into different segments, and are already working on it,” says Hackenberg. He would not be drawn on when it might appear, but said: “We are very fast.”