PARIS -- Volkswagen Group premiered four plug-in hybrids in Paris on Wednesday, the eve of the auto show here.
The VW Passat GTE and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid production cars, as well as the Lamborghini Asterion and XL Sport concepts, are aimed at helping VW lower its fleet CO2 emissions.
Plug-in hybrids are the industry’s latest hope in the struggle to comply with global emission targets, especially in Europe where response to full-electric cars has been weak and demand for full hybrids has been tepid.
Europe’s largest automaker already offers plug-in hybrid versions of the VW Golf, Audi A3 and Porsche Panamera. The niche in Europe currently includes plug-ins from Volvo, Toyota and Mitsubishi as well as the BMW i8 and Mercedes-Benz S 500.
After the initial hype that surrounded battery-powered electric cars, sales have disappointed due to their high costs and limited range. Whether it is the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe or Citroen C-Zero, European volumes per model in the first eight months are in the thousands, according to JATO Dynamics.
Eliminating range anxiety by coupling the battery with a combustion engine hasn’t necessarily helped. Sales of the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt, voted co-European Car of the Year in 2012, plummeted to less than 600 units through August from 1,500 in the previous year.
VW says the Passat GTE’s gasoline engine and electric motor combine to provide the car with 215 hp, which can take it from 0 to 100kph (0 to 62 mph) in 8 seconds with a top speed of 220kph.
The plug-in Passat’s fuel consumption is below 2 liters per kilometer (142 UK mpg, 118 U.S. mpg), which is less than 45 grams per kilometer. In electric mode the Passat GTE can travel up to 50km on electric power alone.
VW says the XL Sport concept is powered by what it called the most powerful twin-cylinder production engine on the planet, a 200-hp unit found in the 1199 Panigale motorcycle, a model built by Volkswagen unit Ducati.