Fuel and drivetrain strategy

In fiscal year 2013, we made further progress towards implementing our vision of sustainable mobility. Efficient and sustainable drivetrains are a highly important strategic issue for Volkswagen and part of the product strategy. We are not only working to continuously optimize existing drivetrains but also – as in the past – pursuing a variety of alternative concepts, and especially electric traction. At present, our customers around the world primarily choose conventional engines to drive their vehicles. Until carbon-neutral and sustainable mobility is a reality, electrified drive technology and conventional combustion engines will continue to coexist in the future. This coexistence will be flanked by a steady increase in the share of carbon-neutral energy sources, in the form of renewable power for electric vehicles, for example, or carbon-neutral fuels such as the next generation of biofuels. Of particular significance here are biomethane, which is generated from waste materials, and synthetic natural gas. The latter is produced in electrolysis and methanation plants fueled by renewable wind power. Today, almost carbon-neutral mobility is already a possibility using sustainable natural gas. Volkswagen has continually expanded its offering of vehicles with CNG drives in recent years. It addition, we are examining innovative renewable fuels that bind CO2 during production and that put carbon-neutral mobility within grasping distance.


From today’s perspective, the combustion engine looks set to serve as the broad basis for drive technology in the coming years. This is particularly true for growth markets such as Russia, India and the Far East. Given the need to use resources responsibly, it is crucial to further optimize combustion engines so as to facilitate sustainable, forward-looking mobility. We have developed an entirely new generation of petrol and diesel engines in response to this challenge. These drivetrains were used in the successor models for the Audi A3 and Golf for the first time in 2012, and will be successively added to the Volkswagen Group’s vehicle range in the future.

All the new engines feature turbocharging, direct injection and a start-stop system as a standard feature. Alongside intelligent thermomanagement for reducing mechanical and energy losses, they also make use of other fuel-saving technologies such as demand-driven auxiliary power unit management and variable valve management. In addition, they feature energy recuperation. We have been using active cylinder management in many Group vehicles with petrol engines since 2012. This automatically switches off individual cylinders when they are not needed without the driver noticing. This innovative technology cuts fuel consumption by up to 0.5 l per 100 km, depending on the engine and driver profile involved. Active cylinder management is increasingly being used in new models.

Driver profile selection is another means of reducing fuel consumption. In 2012, it was integrated into a volume model – the new generation of the Golf – for the first time; it is now also available in other Volkswagen Group vehicles. The driver can select the eco, normal and sport modes as desired. Engine and gear management as well as auxiliary power units and the air conditioning are activated as necessary according to the driver’s selection.

The Group’s efficiency models show what can be achieved by combining efficient conventional drives and vehicle innovations such as low rolling resistance tires and aerodynamic measures. At Volkswagen, they are available under the “BlueMotion” label, at ŠKODA they are known as the “GreenLine” models and at SEAT they go by the name of “ECOMOTIVE”. With CO2 emissions of 87 g/km and fuel consumption of only 3.3 l per 100 km, the Polo BlueMotion is one of the most environmentally friendly and economical five-door vehicles in the world. The Golf BlueMotion, with its new 1.6 TDI engine, uses an average of only 3.2 l of fuel per 100 km, while its CO2 emissions are a mere 85 g/km. The ŠKODA Octavia GreenLine emits only 85 g/km of CO2 and uses 3.2 l of diesel per 100 km. The eco up! – available since the end of 2012 – has CO2 emissions of just 79 g/km with its 1.0 CNG engine.

The Audi and Porsche brands provide impressive proof that premium-segment diesel engines can also be dynamic and economical. The twin turbocharged 3.0 TDI engine in the Audi SQ5 TDI has an output of 230 kW (313 PS) and uses a mere 6.8 l of diesel per 100 km. Porsche offers the Cayenne S diesel with a twin turbocharged 4.2 l V8 diesel engine and an output of 281 kW (382 PS), consuming just 8.3 l of diesel per 100 km.

The successful TSI, TFSI and TDI engines, ideally combined with the Group’s innovative direct shift gearboxes (DSGs), offer a good starting point for efficient vehicle propulsion now and in the future, as they can be combined on a modular basis with electrical components to produce hybrid drives. The plug-in versions of such vehicles can be recharged via electrical outlets and – depending on the model concerned – can cover between 20 and 80 km in purely electric mode.

When it comes to drive electrification, hybrids are a core topic for the Volkswagen Group, especially plug-in hybrids. They are currently the best way of supplementing petrol and diesel engines, because they combine the benefits of two technologies and hence meet a number of customer expectations: an unlimited range thanks to their combustion engines, an attractive electric drive unit for day-to-day urban use, no restrictions on speed, hill-climbing ability or trailer loads, and substantial potential for reducing CO2 emissions. The Volkswagen Group is mounting a major push for this technology. Integration into the modular toolkit strategy is a significant element of this. This technology underscores the importance of e-mobility within the Group, giving it a firm, long-term place in its product strategy. Combined drives are already available today in a large number of vehicle classes in the form of the hybrid versions of the Jetta, Touareg, Audi Q5, Audi A6, Audi A8, Porsche Cayenne S and Porsche Panamera S models.

In 2013, we rang in the age of pure-play e-mobility in the Group with the market launch of the e-up! The e-Golf will be launched in spring 2014. The Group brands performed extensive trials, including with customer involvement, with purely electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the reporting period and were able to further optimize the technology, its suitability for daily use and user requirements for subsequent series production.

Alongside purely electric vehicles, a range of plug-in hybrid vehicles from many of the Group’s brands will be launched around the world in the coming years.

Mass mobility using electric vehicles still faces some challenges, however. In the area of battery chemistry, developing high-performance batteries and building up technological expertise are both vital to increasing the range and hence the attractiveness of electric vehicles. Another challenge is integrating electric cars into the existing infrastructure. Questions still need to be answered with respect to the recharging strategy to be adopted (“smart grid”), how to construct an end-to-end infrastructure, particularly of rapid charging stations, and how to book charging points and bill the electricity provided; these questions must be answered together with governments, municipal authorities and utilities. In our opinion, an intelligent combination of the automotive, power generation and telecommunications sectors offers the opportunity to ease the transition to e-mobility for our customers, or to make it attractive for them. A broad range of new services, such as mobile online services or intelligent recharging, could play an important role in this.

Volkswagen will manufacture not only the bodywork but also the core components of electric cars: the electric motor and the battery system. The motors will be manufactured in the Kassel plant, while the battery modules will be assembled into battery systems at the Braunschweig facility.

Thanks to our conventional and alternative technologies and the modular toolkit strategy, which allows innovations to be incorporated rapidly into different vehicles, the Volkswagen Group is optimally positioned to meet the challenges that the future will bring.

SUSTAINABILITY IN THE VOLKSWAGEN GROUP www.volkswagenag.com/sustainability