Archive for December, 2010

The first EV Volkswagen – the Golf CityStromer

One of the first all electric and not hybrid Volkswagens was the Golf CityStromer.  Stormer is German for storm.  Golf is a reference to the gulfstream wind current.  It was a limited edition mk1 Golf which replaced the engine with a 18.5 kw motor and a 96 volt lead acid gel battery pack.  The range was only around 50 miles and the top speed was 60 mph.  The price was $30,000 in 1985 dollars which was quite expensive considering a regular Golf was under $7,000.

This blog post: talks about how VW bought someone’s Golf CityStromer for restoration after it broke down.

I think it was certainly a pioneering vehicle and VW-Audi had a collection of very interesting cars out there.  They actually made the first production plug in hybrid, the Audi duo.  It was an Audi 100 with a TDI engine and electric drive.  Unfortunately, it was another idea too far ahead of its time, waiting for technology to catch up to it because the electric drive wasn’t very good and the TDI engine wasn’t efficient when bogged down with a heavy battery pack.

Technology has caught up to the idea and electric vehicles are very impressive now.  However, to be a real option for most people, the price has to come down and the limited range has to go up.


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2012 Audi A6 hybrid no quattro, FWD only

At first glance, it looked like the Audi A6 hybrid would use the same engine and drivetrain as the Audi Q6 hybrid.  However, they’ve released further specs and information on the system and I can say that according to Audi’s news releases,

the 2012 Audi A6 hybrid will be FWD only.  There will not be a quattro option with the A6 hybrid.

Nowhere in their press materials does it explicity say that it will be FWD only and there will be no quattro hybrid but here are some clues in their releases:

“Audi will begin series production of the A6 hybrid, its second hybrid model after the Q5 hybrid quattro” – why didn’t they say A6 hybrid quattro?  This phrase is repeated in a number of places.

“The electric motor sits directly behind the TFSI [engine], occupying the space of the torque converter upstream of the modified 8-speed tiptronic. The transmission sends torque to the front wheels.” – the hybrid module is between the engine and transmission.  It says that there’s torque going the front wheels but not to the rear wheels.  Why not?

The other problem is one of space.  The car uses a gas engine just like the regular Audi A6 so it needs a fuel tank.  The hybrid module is under the rear trunk floor.  Maybe the rear half of the quattro drivetrain was omitted so that it wouldn’t intrude upon trunk space?  If so, that was a really boneheaded move.  They should have raised the trunk lid to give the car more room to fit the battery and keep a reasonable amount of trunk space.  I’m not saying that’s the reason, it’s just that it’s the only reason I can think of.  Hopefully this post will be proven wrong.  If not, they need to fix their press releases.

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Is the 2012 Audi A6 hybrid the most luxurious hybrid ever? A review.

The new 2012 Audi A6 hybrid specs and photos were just released and the car contains many state of the art infotainment and luxury features.   Is this the most luxurious hybrid ever?  Probably not. Lexus made a 600h, a V8 powered hybrid tank. It was really designed as a replacement for people who would otherwise buy a V12 and decided they would go green with the V8 instead of buying a smaller, lighter car.  In my opinion, the vehicle iss the classic example of greenwashing.

The engine in the Audi A6 hybrid and performance

The mpg rating on the Audi A6 hybrid could be better and I’ll bet most people would be perfectly happy with a slower car, so while I think Audi could have given a small mpg boost to the Audi A6 hybrid, it’s a much, much better balance between performance, weight, and fuel economy.  The engine combines a 2.0L turbocharged engine with a hybrid motor.  0-62 mph is around 7.3 seconds so while it’s not a fast car, most people would find a car with a 0-60 time of around 10 seconds acceptable for performance on public roads.

What engine could be better?

What engine could have given similar performance with better fuel economy?  VW-Audi’s engine stable includes a 1.4L turbo and supercharged engine which is used in cars all the way up to the Passat which is only slightly smaller than the A6.  This engine is not equipped on any car in North America because while it’s small, packing all that premium technology into a small engine is expensive and people in North America want big, cheap cars.  It makes 122 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque at only 1500 rpm.  So while you won’t win any drag races, it has plenty of low end power because of the turbo and supercharging.  Combined with the electric motor module, this smaller engine could have produced better fuel economy through smaller weight, displacement, and start up times, with good performance.

So while there’s room for improvement, the Audi A6 hybrid is probably the best combination of power, performance and efficiency available in North America….now where are those TDI diesels that they’ve promised us!

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2012 Audi A6 hybrid confirmed to have lithium ion batteries

It looks like the Audi a6 hybrid will definitely get lithium ion batteries.  There was some question over the exact drivetrain configuration since VW-Audi-Porsche use a few hybrid drivetrains.  Would it be like the Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg hybrids with a 3.0L engine and nickel metal hydride batteries or the Audi Q5 hybrid with a 2.0L engine with lithium ion batteries.

Well, it looks like they’ll make things simple for the mechanics and parts factory and stick with the 2.0L engine with lithium ion batteries.

While it doesn’t sound like a lot of power, it’s combined with an 8 speed transmission to yield a 0-62 mph time of 7.3 seconds which is more than fast enough for an economy car.  The Audi A6 also uses plenty of aluminum in its structure to lose weight.

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First look at Audi A6 hybrid body style

The Audi A6 will be coming with a hybrid body style that is all new for 2012.  Here is the first look at some of the features on the new body style.

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Why there won’t be a VW TDI hybrid soon

Someone on another site asked the question

Why didn’t VW make the Touareg hybrid available with the TDI engine?

Long story short, the TDI engine and emissions system adds a price premium to the car and some weight.  The hybrid system also adds a price premium to the car and some weight.  Add them together and you’ve got a very heavy and very expensive car.  The other side is the technical challenges.  The TDI engine uses Adblue fluid to meet emissions standards.  The fluid tank is under the spare tire.  The hybrid battery pack is under the trunk floor.  Where would you fit both of them?  Adding both would eat into trunk space.

The other engineering challenge is that the catalytic converters, diesel particulate filters, and NOx catalysts in the diesel emissions system require heat to work.  A TDI engine takes longer to heat up due to less waste heat than a gasoline engine, the cast iron turbo soaks up heat energy, and therefore, the on-off engine cycles of a hybrid would cause it to heat up even slower, releasing more emissions.  The 3.0L supercharged engine has catalytic converters close to the engine and no cast iron turbo in the exhaust stream to soak up heat so it can heat cycle much faster, in addition to the gasoline engine releasing more energy as waste heat.

For this reason, the upcoming 2012 VW Jetta will probably also not have a TDI hybrid engine option.


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Audi etron to have solar power

..but not how you think

The Audi etron batteries are charged with solar power at Audi’s plant

The Ingolstadt plant now has about 18,000 sq meters of solar panels which is enough to power about 180 homes.  Only about 1/3 of the electricity is used in the plant, with the rest going back into the electricity grid.

Some of the power will be used for charging stations for the Audi etron electric vehicles where the prototype cars are being built.  Ingolstadt is Audi’s main plant in Bavaria, Germany   where they build most of their models.  One exception is the Audi Q7 which is built in Slovakia.

audi etron charging station


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