Three letters had a big effect on the world of engines at the end of the 1980s: TDI. Audi brought turbocharged diesel direct injection – TDI – into volume production in 1989 and it quickly became the gold standard for high-mileage drivers.
Volkswagen now wants to repeat Audi's success, this time with TGI as the acronym. Those letters are for the automaker's new bi-fuel models that can run on both compressed natural gas and gasoline.
A variant of the Golf is the first model to lose its EcoFuel badge in favor of a TGI BlueMotion logo. The Golf TGI BlueMotion arrived this summer and will be followed by a wagon derivative in the autumn.
The TGI is one more sign of the growing importance of CNG as an alternative fuel. Volkswagen is betting that CNG, with it comparatively low CO2 emissions, will successfully compete against other fuel options.
VW Group already offers some of Europe's top-selling natural gas models, however, it ranks a distant second to Fiat in the niche, largely because of strong demand for the powertrain in Italy, where 5.0 percent of all cars sold after five months used the fuel, according to JATO Dynamics.
Overall, automakers sold 36,618 CNG cars in Europe in the first five months, up from 29,901 during the same period last year, JATO figures show. That resulted in a market share of 0.7 percent, up from 0.5 percent.
Political influences are changing the outlook for natural gas. In Europe, China and the United States, support is building for the transition to natural gas. Due to its lower carbon content at a simultaneously higher fuel value, natural gas offers the opportunity to emit 25 percent less CO2 than conventional gasoline- or diesel-powered cars at identical driving performance.