Next Generation Volkswagen Golf Will Get Fuel-Saving Help From XL1 Plug-in Hybrid

In production since 1974, the world-famous Volkswagen Golf compact hatchback is now in its seventh incarnation. And while the Golf platform has been a test-bed for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle drivetrains since the late 1970s, it’s taken Volkswagen forty years to officially bring production versions of an all-electric Golf and plug-in hybrid Golf to market.

The next-generation Volkswagen Golf will use energy-saving technology from the VW XL1 plug-in hybrid to keep emissions low

The next-generation Volkswagen Golf will use energy-saving technology from the VW XL1 plug-in hybrid to keep emissions low

Shortly after launch, the Volkswagen eGolf and soon-to-launch Volkswagen Golf GTE plug-in hybrid account for a tiny proportion of Volkswagen’s total Golf sales. But when Volkswagen launches the eighth-generation Golf some time in 2019, its design will be heavily influenced by one of Volkswagen’s other plug-in vehicles — the limited-production, $100,000 Volkswagen XL1 Plug-in Hybrid.

That’s according to AutoCar, which says that the ultra-efficient two-seat car will lend some of its tech to the next-generation Golf in a bid to reduce the emissions output of every Golf model, plug-in or not.

The XL1 — which we were lucky enough to drive last October — is powered by a tiny 20 kilowatt electric motor married to a 47 horsepower, two-cylinder diesel engine. Although capable of all-electric motion, the XL1 is happiest when blending both power plants for super-efficient cruising, managing a 60 mph cruise with an unbelievably small amount of energy.

The current MK VII Golf does have its green moments, but the next-generation Mk VIII Golf will use XL1 technology across the range, not just the electric models.

The current MK VII Golf does have its green moments, but the next-generation Mk VIII Golf will use XL1 technology across the range, not just the electric models.

This efficiency isn’t just down to the XL1’s tiny engine and electric motor however: it’s due to its extremely lightweight aluminium construction and low coefficient of drag. With narrow wheels, a pronounced Kammback and rear view cameras taking the place of rear-view mirrors, the XL1’s coefficient of drag is just 0.189 — lower than that of General Motors’ legendary EV1.

Essentially a peek into the future of the Volkswagen family, the XL1 is simply too costly, too impractical and too compromised to be used as a daily driver, yet its almost test-bed existence has allowed Volkswagen to field-test energy saving technology which would ordinarily never make it to market.

It’s these features that AutoCar’s insider sources say will feature in the 2019 Volkswagen Golf. Built on the same underlying MQB platform as the current-generation Golf — which we also note is designed to take a variety of different fuel types and drivetrains — the 2019 Golf will be sleeker, and lighter than the current model, driving down fuel consumption. Expect more aerodynamic body panels, a sleeker design, and perhaps even rear-view cameras instead of mirrors. That’s if VW can convince governments around the world to allow them in a mass-production car, of course.

Yet in order to retain some practicality as a family hatchback, Volkswagen’s engineers will be forced to make a compromise between ultra-efficient design and day-to-day usability. With European targets mandating all new cars have an emissions output of less than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2020, the next-generation Golf will need to examine drivetrain efficiency too.

While that may not mean an all-electric solution, AutoCar says Volkswagen is looking at several alternative-fuel, alternative-drivetrain solutions, including KERS-style hybrid flywheel systems. In addition, insiders say, Volkswagen’s engineers are developing advanced gearboxes capable of decoupling the powertrain from the wheels to maximise coasting at both low and high speeds, as well as working on electric turbochargers to increase the power output of small-cylinder engines.

The XL1's design is too impractical for everyday use, bit it will lend its aerodynamic qualities to future VW vehicles.

The XL1’s design is too impractical for everyday use, bit it will lend its aerodynamic qualities to future VW vehicles.

Many readers will argue that Volkswagen is taking a rather illogical and indirect route on the path towards inevitable electrification of its fleet. But while we hope Volkswagen moves forward to introduce a wide range of plug-in and zero emissions vehicles we think it’s equally as important that VW decreases the carbon emissions of its internal-combustion engine vehicles.

Flywheel hybrid technology, combined with lightweight design and electric turbochargers won’t give the next-generation Golf the same fuel efficiency as a 100 per cent plug-in car. But if Volkswagen’s next-generation Golf can change the carbon emissions of all of its owners rather than just those wealthy enough to afford a fully-electric car, we think it’s a step in the right direction.

And a leaner, greener car fitted with futuristic fuel-saving technology, is an evolved form of transport, too.

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  • Surya

    I think their approach is the right onen- Introduce a BEV version for the early adoptersn- Introduce a PHEV version for the not so early adoptersn- Work on efficiency gains for all the other customersnnNot everyone will make the jump to a car with a plug just yet, let alone a BEV, so it’s good that they invest in lowering emissions for the other models as well.nThe approach is not ‘or’ but ‘and’

    • vdiv

      “Not everyone will make the jump to a car with a plug just yet”nnWhy not? If the car is going to use a hybrid electric motor and a battery why not have a plug? It is not much of a jump if done right. One can argue that VW’s approach towards electrification is to dilute and delay.

      • Surya

        Why not? Because the general public is ignorant, conservative and afraid of change, unfortunately.

        • vdiv

          Yeah, however I’d like to have a higher confidence that the general public will embrace the technology if they saw it as superior. This is where car manufacturers and their commitment comes in.

          • Surya

            That be true

        • postal worker bruce

          and youre not…….

          • Surya

            Make of it what you want, but I do already drive an EV 🙂

          • Tim Johnson

            That might make you smart, but it could mean youu2019re among the dumbest global warming alarmist PETA nuts. Anyway, itu2019s not just the general public that is holding up BEV adoption, itu2019s the marketers in the major automotive companies, who for example have consistently refused to offer diesel models to americans, who have been screaming for them.

          • Surya

            Diesel is dirty, so why be sad about that?

          • Tim Johnson

            Diesel is NOT dirty anymore. It used to be dirty.

          • Surya

            Diesel is not AS dirty anymore. They have all kinds of particle filters and such, which help a lot. But one of the problems is that more modern diesel engines produces much smaller particles, which can’t be captured by the filters. So they burn cleaner and more efficient, but the result of that is that the filters don’t work as well. There certainly is still a lot of room for improvement.

          • Tim Johnson

            Diesels are higher in soot but that is not the only measure. Much lower in carbon and other pollutants. The article you stupidly cited carries no exact amounts, but rather obliquely refers to trucks and buses which are often old and are dirty. Those same old trucks and buses will still be there whether or not you buy a new, CLEAN diesel.

          • Surya

            Thanks for calling me stupid. A very polite way to have a discussion.

          • Tim Johnson

            Ok Iu2019m sorry for that. It was wrong and I shouldnu2019t have said it. I was stupid for that. But the web page you linked actually undermined your own argument.nCan we agree VW is going in a great direction with this car?

          • Surya

            Sure 🙂

          • Tim Johnson

            What do you drive, a nissan leaf?

          • Surya

            Renault ZOE

          • Tim Johnson

            Iu2019ll have to check it out.

          • Tim Johnson

            Hereu2019s a pertinent article. The fact is, clean diesels are cleaner than a lot of gas cars. Sorry.nnhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/07/clean-diesel-cars-facts_n_818847.html

          • Surya

            Too bad they don’t list references for their claims about how polluting diesel is.nBut still, EVs or at least PHEVs are a better option in my book. Which is why I replaced my 56MPG diesel with an EV.

          • Surya
          • Tim Johnson

            Better to buy a clean diesel range-extended diesel, possibly run it on biodiesel, than to run your car indirectly on coal.

          • Surya

            Can you give some numbers to back that up? I have read studies that showed that an EV on pure coal still emits about half what an efficient ICE car emits. Also, most of those numbers do not take into account the sourcing, transporting, refining and transporting of the gas or diesel. If you take those into account, CO2 emissions are about double according to a number of studies. And what do you think those refineries use? Right, electricity. So your gas and diesel car use as much coal as your EV, on top of using the gas or diesel.nnAnd a good thing my electricity doesn’t come from coal, it is 100% renewable. EVs get cleaner as the grid gets cleaner. Diesel will always be dirty to source and refine.

          • Tim Johnson

            That is just laughably one-sided. You mention what an ICE car emits, yet neglect to add they mean a gas-fueled car. You mention sourcing, transporting, and refining, yet coal also generates these costs. You mention electricity costs, yet coal/electricity uses these too. Your electricity also isnu2019t renewable, because if you were smart enough to afford a $ 70,000 solar system, you wouldnu2019t be making such clumsy arguments. Lastly, I NEVER argued whether diesel is better or worse than BEV, I only brought up diesel as an example of automotive manufacturers being too dumb to offer it even when americans have been asking for it for years, particularly in mid-size pickups.

          • Surya

            My electricity in fact is renewable. My utility only deals in solar, wind, hydro and bio mass. And I just happen to be in the process of buying solar panels. And my 5kW system will only cost u20ac7000.nnnnBut my point was that your gas or diesel needs as much electricity to be made as an EV would use – more or less, as oil refineries use a lot of electricity.

          • Tim Johnson

            Ok, so that is a small system, but good for you. I just had to move from a house that would have been perfect for it, to a house with roof that wonu2019t let me do it.nI agree EVs can be very good. Iu2019m tempted to buy one myself as my commute is now only 7 miles. My garage roof is perfect for it actually, but my former house had a south facing roof was about 18 m x 5 m.

          • Tim Johnson

            http://www.allianceautogas.com/cleaner-air/nnHere is a comparison favorable to diesel- and not even clean diesel! Clean diesel is cleaner than gas.nnhttp://www.air-quality.org.uk/26.php

  • Steve c

    The XL1 is an absolute dream car, so modern,futuristic,and high tech. I truly wish i could afford one, not just for the outstanding mileage. I could look at this sculptural piece of automotive eye candy all day.