By on September 30, 2008

Warren Buffet’s recent investment in BYD has conferred a new legitimacy on a dual parallel-serial hybrid drivetrain, which combines features from both systems. And now VW has revealed its own PHEV third way called “TwinDrive.” Ohne transmission, VW’s concept car uses a small electric engine– powered by a 350 lbs. Sanyo lithium-Ion battery pack under the trunk floor– to launch its Golf testbed to 30 mph. (At which point the gasoline engine kicks in.) Electric acceleration helps overcome the limitations of a single high gear; reverse is electric-only. And drivers can engage an EV-only mode. Motor Trend reports that VeeDub’s testing the TwinDrive system with diesel engines, but gas-powered TD’s are destined for production. Production ICE is said to be a 100hp  turbocharged 1.05-liter turbocharged triple. A smart navigation-based system will calculate energy use priorities, saving battery capacity if urban driving appears ahead on the planned driving route, thus ensuring battery depletion at the destination and keeping the TwinDrive away from gas pumps unless absolutely necessary). The basic components of plug-in hybrid systems seem to have become fairly standardized. But concepts like the TwinDrive show that there are more development options than simply parallel or serial configurations.

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20 Comments on “VW Unveils “TwinDrive” Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle...”


  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    Sounds alot like “Two Mode.”

    Didn’t GM get slapped on the butt for making a hybrid like this? The Vue and the Tahoe?

    Take out the paddle.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    monkeyboy:

    Yeah, not quite. The “two-mode” term is misleading if you think of it in terms of “hybrid types” (parallel, serial, whatever). If you look here, you’ll see that, far from a single-geared system like the VW, GM’s “two-mode” has an immensely complex gearing system.

    We don’t know enough about TwinDrive yet, but it seems to be consciously avoiding the complexity and technical overkill of many hybrid systems. Except for that navigation thing, which could be too cool to pull off.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    well the problem with the GM version is they put it into a vehicle that no one cares to hybrid-ize. IM sure that same system in a Cobalt could do amazing things. but really..who cares about a 20% MPG increase if its still in the teens?

  • avatar
    nonce

    who cares about a 20% MPG increase if its still in the teens?

    It’s much more important to get the 15MPG car to 18MPG than to get the 40MPG car to 48MPG.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    “It’s much more important to get the 15MPG car to 18MPG than to get the 40MPG car to 48MPG.”

    Most intelligent post I’ve read in a while.

    Add to this that it is really a point when it’s in a utility vehicle that stresses “Utility,” in every turn of the wheel. It WAS after all, the most popular SUV ever in the boom that went bust because of fuel prices. And I still see hordes of them everywhere.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    Well those who buy fuel efficient cars to save money will not buy a GM hybrid SUV because you don’t save money or gas (you could just buy a Civic if you didn’t need the utility, save gas and money)

    Those who need the utility of a SUV will not buy a hybrid because it will not save them money (price premium too high).

    So there are very few customers for large, slightly more efficient SUVs.

    No one can argue that the big hybrid, overpriced SUVs were a good idea.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    Facts get in the way of a really good argument.

    Fact*:

    City MPG ratings:

    ’08 Tahoe Hybrid : 21 mpg

    ’08 Toyota Camry: 21 mpg.

    Go figger….

    *according to available published data.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    You’re only stating city mileage (which is the tahoe’s strong suit and the camry’s weak point).

    I’m all for facts but let’s do a fair comparision.

    EDIT: I just looked it up and you were using the 4-cyl mileage estimate

    You should use both city and highway mileage

    Your comparision reminds me of those people who were saying that the H2 was better for the environment than the Prius.

  • avatar
    JoeEgo

    @rev0lver

    You should consider the most wasteful aspect of a large SUV is grocery-getting.

    Increasing the mileage of the poorest performers is not only the best way to raise GM’s CAFE stats, it is also the best way to reduce the amount of gas consumed in absolute terms.

    And yes, there are hard numbers out there detailing the C02 footprint of the Prius vs H2 over the life of the car from manufacturing to disposal. Using less gas is a good goal, but don’t delude yourself into thinking the H2 or hybrid GM SUVs are so horrible just because you can’t see around them or something.

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    Well those studies have been debunked as flawed and misleading (different powertrain lifetimes).

    But I’m sure we can agree that the big hybrids were a bad business decision for GM.

    PS I live in Canada where smaller vehicles are more popular so not being able to see around SUVs is not a huge issue for me.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “a duel parallel-serial hybrid drivetrain”

    Do they fight with swords or guns?

    Could be worse though. Could be “a duel parallel-cereal hybrid drivetrain”.

  • avatar
    Mike66Chryslers

    Warren Buffet’s recent investment in BYD has conferred a new legitimacy on a duel parallel-serial hybrid drivetrain, which combines features from both systems.

    That’s dual, not duel. Grammatical errors seem to be on the rise on TTAC of late.

    EDIT: RS, you beat me to it!

  • avatar
    RedStapler

    You would have to be a certified masochist to purchase something this complex from VW.

    Oh yes, I’ve been a bad bad driver…let me pay the highest parts prices this side of Mercedes when ever something breaks.

    These are the folks who can’t even get window regulators and simple wiring correct.

    I was at my insurance agent yesterday and she has 2 new Beetle Convertibles as rolling billboards. 3 of the 4 window rear regulators have gone out at $1200 a pop !

  • avatar
    Phil Ressler

    So there are very few customers for large, slightly more efficient SUVs.

    No one can argue that the big hybrid, overpriced SUVs were a good idea.

    I was in Palo Alto a few weeks ago and at 1pm on a Thursday afternoon, I saw *three* *different* Tahoe Hybrids on University Avenue within a ten minutes span. None had dealer or manufacturer plates. All three had the new reg temp sheet on the right lower corner of the windshield.

    In the past week, I’ve seen four different Tahoe Hybrids, all privately registered, around Los Angeles. Going from 14mpg to 20mpg in L.A. traffic seemed to be making the one driver happy I was able to speak to. The city traffic efficiency gains offered by 2Mode are not merely “slight.” And by the way, I am still seeing numerous brand-spanking-new large SUVs and pickups hitting the freeways here. If 2Mode gains were evenly applied to the core demand for personal trucks remaining in our market, the aggregate benefit exceeds incremental gains to already reasonably-efficient cars. 2Mode is a sound option, especially in relatively affluent markets, that remains largely unexplained to the market by GM’s obfuscating marketers.

    Phil

  • avatar
    Campisi

    But I’m sure we can agree that the big hybrids were a bad business decision for GM.

    Those large GM hybrid SUVs are the only American vehicles my parents will consider. My parents are far from unique.

  • avatar
    shaker

    If GM’s two-mode hybrid is reasonably bulletproof, then it stands a chance of paying back the owner the added $10k. The jury is still out, though.

    It’s definitely a huge jump in efficiency in absolute terms over the existing SUV platform, but it’s still a poor use of resources, as it encourages excess.
    You’re still tooling around in a 5,850 pound vehicle that has a 6,000 pound towing capacity that costs $52,000 — “getting groceries” can be accomplished by a car of slightly over half the weight. The excess weight of your vehicle causes more road damage as well, and the tires are bigger and more costly to replace (and likely wear faster).

    If you need it, fine, but as an “environmental statement”, purists will avoid it (which seems to be happening).

  • avatar
    rev0lver

    Well I guess I’m wrong, they must be breaking sales records left and right, anyone have the sales numbers?

  • avatar
    T2

    TwinDrive looks like another wannabee has been trying his hand at powertrain design.
    What it shows is a poor understanding of the qualities of the electric motor and internal combustion engines.
    Let’s look at how the masters at Toyota do it.

    They understand that the ICE is a constant torque prime mover which must be allowed to spin at maximum rpm in order to develop maximum power. In the Prius it can do that continuously from 51mph to 100mph if need be.

    Meanwhile over at VW, they have victimised their powertrain by foisting a fixed gear ratio on the engine. This means that whatever Top Speed marketing decides the vehicle should have, that will be when maximum power is developed.

    A legally unusable 120mph will doom this engine to just half its max power at 60mph.
    How dumb is that ?
    T2

  • avatar
    Campisi

    It’s definitely a huge jump in efficiency in absolute terms over the existing SUV platform, but it’s still a poor use of resources, as it encourages excess.

    “Encouraging excess” is very much a supply-side view of the automotive marketplace, no? The Two-Mode SUVs are for people that want/need a body-on-frame large SUV, but also want considerably better mileage than other large SUVs. Just like the truck/SUV market in total, a plummet in sales does not mean that the market itself will disappear. GM knows that they are very good at trucks and SUVs, so they want to solidify their dominance of the market. The system has a hefty premium now, but the theory is that economies of scale will eventually bring the price down.

    The Two-Mode system is slowly being phased in to other varieties of vehicles anyway, so the Tahoe Hybrid isn’t really a display of any major shortcoming in the system as much as their choice of debut vehicle for the system.

  • avatar
    charly

    This smells like made for diesel. Prius has the problem that it works best with a gas engine which isn’t financial wise in cheap diesel Europe.


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