Volkswagen Wants a Plug-in Hybrid in North America

Published on May 15, 2023 in Hybrid/Plug-in Hybrid by Guillaume Rivard

Volkswagen is quite busy launching next-generation electric vehicles around the world. However, unlike Europe, its North American lineup doesn’t have anything for drivers that aren’t ready to make the switch to full electrification just yet.

And that’s a mistake according to the automaker’s top executive for the region, Pablo Di Si, who would like to fix it in the near future by adding a plug-in hybrid. In fact, he wants to make it one of his top priorities.

"It takes you a long time to develop a technology. If I wouldn't have any plug-in hybrid in the group, it wouldn't be an idea,” he said in an interview with Automotive News in the U.S.

Di Si was referring to the Q5 55 TFSI e from luxury brand Audi, which he raves about. This compact SUV pairs a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with an electric motor for a combined 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. Thanks to a 17.9kWh battery, it provides a zero-emission range of 37 km, per NRC.

Photo: Audi

Transplanting that powertrain into a Volkswagen-branded vehicle would make sense. How about the Tiguan or Atlas? These two SUVs were last redesigned or introduced for 2018, and a new generation is likely coming in a year or two. The former will get a German-built EV variant in 2026, as was announced in February, but it could certainly use a PHEV model to compete with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 Prime, Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Hyundai Tucson PHEV and Kia Sportage PHEV.

"Until Electrify America doubles up in 2025 [Editor’s note: Volkswagen’s Electrify Canada is set to grow to 500 fast chargers by mid-decade], I think it's a perfect transition,” Di Si pointed out to Automotive News. “And we have the technology. We have the systems, we have the engineering, the staff."

Further down the line, Volkswagen Group plans to launch more than 25 new EVs in North America across its various brands (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BentleyLamborghini, Scout) by 2030. At that point, EVs should account for 55 percent of total sales. The automaker will begin to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles from its lineup, aiming to exit from sales at the beginning of the next decade.

Photo: Volkswagen
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