PLUG OK license plate
Audi's PHEV Concept; Volkswagen Research Chief Criticizes Fuel Cells
Nov 13, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
Want more? Become a subscriber to CalCars-News:

It looks like Volkswagen is joining the race to build PHEVs. At the Tokyo auto show, the company introduced an Audi concept PHEV (report below), and media reported rumors of a Volkswagen introduction at an upcoming auto show Los Angeles (this week) or Detroit (mid-January).

And today we have VW's chief of research directly coming out and saying the company's concluded hydrogen fuel-cell cars are a non-starter. The context includes news from two Canadian fuel cell companies: Ballard selling its automotive fuel cell business back to Ford and Chrysler and Hydrogenics shutting down much of its fuel cell operations. And at a time when the Air Resources Board is considering moving toward a more equal playing field between hydrogen and electrification (see­calcars-news/­874.html ), here's a carmaker saying the only reason its working on fuel cell cars is because of what it implies are legacy regulatory requirements. Hopefully California can do the carmakers a favor and excuse them from that exercise!

Audi Introduces Metroproject Quattro Sub-Compact
Plug-In Hybrid Concept at Tokyo Show
24 October 2007­2007/­10/­audi-introduces.html

Audi is unveiling the metroproject quattro, an original Audi design study for the sub-compact segment, at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The concept features a plug-in hybrid drive. A 1.4-liter TFSI engine developing 110 kW (148hp) powers the front wheels by means of the S-tronic Direct Shift Gearbox. A 30 kW (40 hp) electric motor positioned on the rear axle is able to deliver up to an additional 200 Nm of torque when the vehicle is accelerating. The differential compensates for any slip on one side.

The 1.4-liter TFSI and turbocharger is an advanced version of the unit that made its series production debut in the Audi A3 a few months ago. Whereas the 1.4 TFSI musters 92 kW (123 hp) in the A3, it delivers 110 kW (148 hp) at 5,500 rpm in the study. Its peak torque of 240 Nm is on tap over a broad rev band from 1,600 ­ 4,000 rpm.

Multi-hole injectors result in very homogeneous mixture formation and extremely efficient combustion. This is also an effective means of helping to cut pollutant emissions. The integrated turbocharger promises optimized responsiveness and torque build-up. Eighty percent of peak torque can be summoned up from as low down as 1,250 rpm—barely above idle.

The electric motor can power the vehicle alone for zero-emission driving. A lithium-ion battery pack supports a range of up to 100 km (62 miles) in pure electric mode; the battery pack can be recharged from any power socket. The combustion engine only cuts in again once battery state of charge has dropped to below 20%. In electric mode, the car has a top speed of more than 100 km/h (62 mph).

When the two drive units are working in unison, however, the Audi metroproject is transformed into a genuine quattro with combined torque of 440 Nm in total (240 Nm from the 1.4 TFSI plus an extra 200 Nm from the electric motor).

The automatic start/stop facility, energy regeneration and phases of purely electrical operation reduce the fuel consumption and emissions of the Audi metroproject quattro by around 15% compared to when it is running exclusively on the combustion engine. Despite its performance (0-100 km/h in 7.8 seconds, top speed of 201 km/h), the study consumes 4.9 liters/100km (48 mpg US) in mixed mode operation, while CO2 emissions average 112 g/km.

The Audi metroproject quattro is equipped with the same Audi drive select system that can be ordered as an option for the current generation of the Audi A4. This enables the driver to pre-select one of two specially adapted configurations for the drivetrain, shift characteristics and magnetic ride shock absorbers.

The default setting is the “efficiency” mode, which is automatically activated every time the engine is started. In this mode, the engine and transmission respond gently to use of the accelerator and shift paddles. This setting is intended for a relaxed driving style, as well as lowering fuel consumption and emissions.

The “dynamic” mode is designed to produce a dynamic driving sensation. In this mode, the vehicle’s electronics also harness the torque available from the electric motor to achieve extra-sporty acceleration along with excellent lateral dynamics.

"Fuel cell cars won't save the world" Autocar (UK) Tuesday, November 06, 2007­News/­NewsArticle/­Volkswagen-Concepts/­229005/­

One of the most senior forward-thinkers at Europe's bigger car-maker has told Autocar that he thinks hydrogen-powered cars won't turn out to the global emissions panacea that the wider motor industry is cracking them up to be.

Volkswagen's head of research Dr Jurgen Leohold told Autocar that he thinks fuel cell cars like VW's own HyMotion Touran research car (pictured) are not the future of alternative power, and are only really being developed as a sop to ever-tightening emissions laws in places such as California.

Describing them as a “marketing exercise,” he said their inherent problem lies with producing the hydrogen fuel to power them, and in establishing an infrastructure of hydrogen filling stations. "Because hydrogen has to be produced using existing power, CO2 emissions are still an issue," he said.

Instead, Dr Leohold reckons the immediate future of alternative power for cars lies with biofuels and beyond that with battery power, and we’ll see huge improvements in battery technology in the next five years. “You can see it already in mobile phone and computer batteries,” he said.

General Motors has already announced it will put the battery-driven Chevrolet Volt into production by 2010, a decision dependent on a big steps forward in battery technology.

Copyright © 2003-07 California Cars Initiative, an activity of the International Humanities Center | Site Map