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NAIAS : VW Jetta Hybrid – On Sale By Nov 2012

POSTED BY admin ON 10 January 2012

VW presented two electric drive concepts at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. We have already seen the E-Bugster, and today, VW presented to the world the Jetta Hybrid sedan, which will go on sale in North America by November 2012. The Jetta Hybrid is a petrol-electric hybrid, mating VW’s famed forced induction 1.4 TSI 150PS engine with a 20 kW lithium ion battery powered electric motor. Transmission is via VW’s 7-speed DSG transmission. VW says this combination will deliver 20 percent improvement in fuel economy, compared to the standard petrol powered Jetta, which gets 45 mpg (about 19.1 km per liter) in America. However, VW is also keen to point out the VW’s alternative powertrain models are designed not only with the environment and fuel economy in mind, but the ‘fun to drive’ factor is not left out. The Jetta Hybrid still manages a 0-60 mph (about 0 – 96 km/h) in under 9 seconds. When combined with the electric motor’s output, the Jetta Hybrid produces a combined peak power of 170 PS and 250 Nm of torque. VW says this is higher than the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated petrol engine available for the American market Jetta.

Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Head of Development for the Volkswagen brand said “The new Jetta Hybrid and the E-Bugster are showing once again that Volkswagen not only stands for emotion and driving fun, but also for sustainable and responsible mobility.

Like the Touareg Hybrid SUV, the Jetta Hybrid is a parallel hybrid, meaning that that vehicle can be independently powered by either petrol engine or electric motor alone or a combination of both power sources. However, parallel hybrids cannot recharge their batteries when the electric motor is in use. Conversely, the electric motors cannot power the vehicle when it is used in generator mode to recharge the batteries. The most advance hybrid system, the series-parallel types are able to do all that. To our knowledge, Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive is the only series-parallel hybrid system on the market.

However unlike the Prius, the Jetta Hybrid uses a more expensive, but higher power density and lighter traction battery (batteries that supplies power to the driving motors) pack. While the Prius makes do with nickel metal-hydride batteries, the Jetta Hybrid uses a 60-cell capacity lithium ion battery. The battery is rated at 220 Volts with an energy capacity of 1.1 kWh and weighing just 38.5 kg. This allows the Jetta Hybrid to minimize its weight penalty, a common problem for all hybrids. The Jetta Hybrid weighs just 100 kg (there are other hybrid components besides the traction battery) more than a standard Jetta.

Being a parallel hybrid, the Jetta Hybrid can run on power electric power at speeds up to 70 km/h, albeit only for a maximum of 2km, which is similar to the Prius’s (non-plug-in version) EV Drive mode.

Externally, the Jetta Hybrid can identified by its new front spoiler, a rear diffuser and a rear spoiler that improves the car’s aerodynamic efficiency by 10 per cent. Also fitted are headlights with LED running lights, LED rear lights and unique 15-inch alloy wheels with low rolling resistance tyres. ‘Hybrid’ badges adorn the front wings, bootlid and modified front grille. The Volkswagen logo is in blue. We know this is related to VW’s ‘Think Blue’ campaign, but the ubiquity of Toyota and Lexus hybrid models, which also spots blue tinted logos may make VW look like it took a page out of Toyota’s marketing handbook.

The interior however, will be the same as a standard Jetta, except for the instrument cluster, whose multi-function display can now indicate the mechanical-electrical energy flow.

So far, there are no announcement regarding sale of the Jetta Hybrid outside North America. The North American market Jetta, although looking the same outside as a European (and our Malaysian) market Jetta, is substantially different under the skin as the American market models feature a different rear sub-frame to accomodate the torsion beam suspension. European market models get multi-link setup.

Which is a pity for us on this side of the world, because the Jetta Hybrid’s 1.4-liter petrol engine is eligible for 100% tax exemption on import and excise duties (condition on tax exemption is the engine capcity must be below 2000cc). It could give the new facelifted Prius a good run for its money, plus it is sedan and on this side of the world, people still associate practicality with sedans.

VW of America have yet to announce prices for the Jetta Hybrid.

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