NAIAS Detroit: Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE

January 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

vw cross coupe gteNews from NAIAS, Detroit: More to follow, but first up… Volkswagen’s prototype Cross Coupe GTE – a big US-oriented SUV to rival the BMW X6, Range Rover Evoque etc – is a plugin hybrid offering up to 20 miles in all-electric mode. Its 3.6 V6 (276bhp, 258lb ft) works with two electric motors (one giving 114bhp/199lb ft, the other 54bhp/162lb ft) to give a total 355bhp/369lb ft, 130mph and 0-602mph in six seconds. There’s a six-speed DCT gearbox and five selectable driving modes, including one giving a ‘range extender’ function to charge the battery for greater electric range. Conventional petrol and diesel ICE drivetrains will also be offered; the Cross Coupe is expected to go into production in Tennessee, where the Passat is built for the US market – and in China.

  • Mk2 Chevy Volt: improved efficiency and range (50 miles in all-electric mode, 400 all-in), quicker off the mark, five-seat interior and a new 1.5-litre range-extender engine. (News on the ‘Bolt’ EV to follow). And Mercedes-Benz is adding a PHEV to its C-Class line-up; the C350 saloon gives a combined 275bhp/443lb ft and a 2o-mile all-electric range.
  • Some brave information-sharing from BMW on its future plans at Autocar: a move away from the RWD & steel format to AWD in aluminium/steel/composite structures – and electrification across the board with plug-in RE-EV powertrains (engines only acting as generators to drive e-motors). Connected-car/V2V tech will play a role with features including topographic optimisation as well as coasting and aerodynamically-enhancing adaptive ride height.  The inference is that this is the longer-term plan to meet EU legislation for the 2020s, but in the nearer term, more conventional plug-in hybrids will arrive in each line-up.
  • Nissan is to work with NASA on a five-year autonomous car project: a fleet of Leafs will trial both hardware and software jointly-developed, reports Automotive News, making the point that the hardware of EVs is more easily-adapted for autonomy than that of ICE vehicles.
  • And data from Nissan’s CarWings telematics has shown that European Leaf owners (or at least, the 54% registered with CarWings) have been driving an average 10,307 miles a year – more than twice the average for ICE drivers. Feedback is that many owners have bought their Leaf as a second car but have ended up using it more than their other vehicle. Spanish Leaf drivers do an average 228 miles a week, Swedish Leafs do 211 miles a week, and the British 201 miles. And 89% of them (across Europe) charge overnight at home.
  • Fuji Pigment Co is planning to commercialise an aluminium-air battery by spring 2015; aluminium-air is said to have very high energy density, and Fuji’s battery is claimed to have overcome the problems of anode corrosion. The battery needs to be ‘recharged’ by refilling with salt or fresh water. More – incl. academic references – at Green Car Congress.
  • The RAC Foundation has now published its version of the Berrington and Nikolai study on young adults and driving (see below). Available here.
  • Slow take-up and vandalism have blighted Toyota’s pilot EV-share scheme in Grenoble, reports Bloomberg (via Automotive News Europe).
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