VW’s first lithium-ion hybrid coming in 2010, will it be the Golf or A1?

Volkswagen officially announced today that it has reached an agreement with Sanyo to work on what it calls a “new and extremely efficient high-performance storage system based on lithium-ion technology.”

Besides CEO Winterkorn talking about an electrically powered automobiles and efficient engines, the press release stated two concept cars we have great interest in. The Volkswagen Golf TDI, seen at Geneva Motor Show this past March, and the Audi A1 metroproject quattro that we saw at Tokyo Motor Show last year.

Just about a month ago reports stated that Volkswagen killed plans to produce a production version of the Golf TDI Hybrid. Supposedly the cost of producing the car didn’t make economical sense to executives. However, with this news we think the Golf TDI Hybrid should be back in Volkswagen’s green plans. The car was powered by a 3-cylinder 74-hp engine that was paired to a 27-hp electric motor.

As for the A1 metroproject quattro; Audi is reported to be the first of the Volkswagen group to use this technology by Sanyo. In the press release, Volkswagen says that it hopes to have its first lithium-ion technology in cars by 2010 – the same time the Audi A1 is expected to make its market debut.

The Audi Metroproject Quattro concept carries a 1.4 liter TFSI engine that produces a total of 150 horsepower. Working as a hybrid, a 41 horsepower electric motor sits in the back allowing for a fuel-economy range of 48 mpg.

Hmm, and we wonder if Porsche will try to exploit this Sanyo deal?

Read the press release below for more info.


Press Release:

Volkswagen Working on High-Performance Energy Storage

Dynamic partnership between the Volkswagen Group and Sanyo

Wolfsburg, 28 May 2008 – Agreement has been reached on a co-operation which sees Volkswagen joining forces with Sanyo, one of the world”s leading developers of rechargeable batteries, to work on new and extremely efficient high-performance storage systems based on lithium-ion technology.

“Our focus in future,” says Prof Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group, “will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside ones driven by more efficient combustion engines. Drivetrain electrification is the way forward if we wish to secure mobility in tomorrow”s world. This will involve energy recovery. The whole idea will be to no avail, however, as long as we do not have powerful energy storage systems at our disposal and as long as vehicle operations are not in tune with customer demands. This cooperation is an important step for us,” Winterkorn adds.

Emissions-free travel in an all-electric operating modus is already possible today, though only at limited speeds and over short distances. That makes it all the more important to develop new accumulators with the capacity, size, weight and cost attributes which will enable them to be used more efficiently in tomorrow”s automobiles. Lithium-ion technology, already very successfully used in communications electronics and portable computers, has the potential to satisfy even the particularly exacting demands placed on electro-traction systems in motor vehicles.

Back in March, at the Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen showcased its Golf TDI Hybrid design study, which demonstrated just how much potential for energy reduction there is when you combine high-tech-diesel, electric-drive and 7-speed-DSG technology. Conceived as a powerful full-hybrid vehicle, the Golf TDI Hybrid can be operated using combustion-engine power only or using a combination of combustion and electric drive or using E-drive ““ i.e. the powerful and energy-efficient combination of TDI technology and an electric motor. The A1 project quattro presented by Audi at the most recent Tokyo Motor Show features a powertrain already designed to cover a distance of 100 km using this innovative storage method. The Group hopes to be able to employ lithium-ion technology in its first vehicles by 2010.