Auf Wiedersehen: Volkswagen Quietly Kills Sole Hybrid Model

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
i auf wiedersehen i volkswagen quietly kills sole hybrid model

If you’ve long since erased the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid from your memory bank, don’t worry. Buyers forgot about it at the same time, and the automaker is prepared to do the same.

When Volkswagen rolled out a list of changes to its 2017 year vehicles today, the Jetta Hybrid was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the automaker placed a note in its empty chair, reading “Jetta Hybrid no longer available.”

It was an undignified (but not unexpected) end for a very unpopular model — one the automaker doesn’t need weighing it down as it tries to streamline its operations in a bid to save cash.

As the automaker’s sole hybrid offering in the United States, the Jetta Hybrid made more sense as green window dressing than it did as a marketable vehicle. Buyers agreed. Entry-level Jettas started pretty cheap for a German car, and the now-maligned (and recalled, and soon-to-be crushed) TDI models offered better power and great mileage for less money. Even now, a Jetta equipped with the fuel-sipping 1.4-liter gas engine is an attractive and economical choice.

Would you buy an unremarkable hybrid version of an existing compact for $31,940 in 2016?

Sales of the model tanked right from the start. In 2013, the Hybrid recorded 5,655 sales, followed by 1,939 in 2014 and 740 in 2015. As of the end of May, Volkswagen only sold 227 Jetta Hybrids this year. The public let their absence do the talking, and Volkswagen listened. (VW isn’t the only automaker struggling with low demand for hybrids.)

With diesel models sidelined and the hybrid gone, Volkswagen’s lineup is now all gas, with the exception of the EV version of the Golf. The company insists that will change. In its long-term plan, which maps out the company’s actions over the next decade, the automaker said it would roll out over 30 battery electric models between now and 2025, but possibly at the expense of 40 other models.

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  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Jun 23, 2016

    My 2016 Jetta 1.4t which I purchased for $17,000 (VW was hurting in March) new returns 40+ mpg and 184 ft-lbs of torque - why would I fuck with a hybrid or diesel for thousands upon thousands more dollars?

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    • HotPotato HotPotato on Jun 25, 2016

      I believe it was this very site that suggested VW keep the 1.4T/7-speed DCT but ditch the hybrid bits to produce a Jetta that was nearly as compelling but considerably cheaper than the Jetta Hybrid. Isn't that exactly what VW did in introducing the 1.4T as its exciting new Jetta powertrain recently? If so, then maybe VW used the Hybrid like Hyundai used the Veloster, as a low-volume, low-risk real-world test of new powertrain bits. It's hard to imagine any sensible reason for them to have layered three levels and cost and complexity otherwise (turbo+new DCT+hybrid system), since doing so pushed the price out of bounds and didn't pay off from an MPG perspective vs a conventional hybrid with naturally aspirated engine and eCVT transmission.

  • Brandloyalty Brandloyalty on Jun 23, 2016

    I actually saw a Jetta Hybrid on the road the other day. Startling to see the hybrid logo on the trunk of a VW. No doubt stopping production of this sales flop makes sense for a maker who needs to reduce inventory and production costs. It also makes sense in the context of Germany's decision to limit sales of new cars to electric-only as of 2030. Was THAT reported on TTAC? Norway and Holland have banned new non-hybrids and ev's as of 2025. The writing is on the wall for ICE cars. Why develop and sell hybrids (and diesels) when you're going to need the resources to develop pure ev's.

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    • Tedward Tedward on Jun 23, 2016

      @dal20402 I think that's what happened here. The golf ev and jetta hybrid look like they have common parts, and they've had a battery plant come on while it was for sale. Not to mention they debuted the 1.4t there, which is now the affordable vw drivetrain and it starts to look more like a developement car than something they were seeking volume on. I mean, they really domed it right out of the gate on price, marketing (shaded by tdi) and by virtue of being the fifth(!!!) engine option on one car in a market they don't control 3% of. I wonder if this was predicted internally or came as some bizarre surprise.

  • Lorenzo They should have put a more upright windshield on it, and kept the V trim on the hood. Dump the sliding passenger door and put the twin hinged doors back. Dump the batteries and put the 1.4 turbo into it, and put the original 16 inch wheels back, with metal hubcaps. VW did to the Buzz what they did to the new Bug, went with the generic shape and took out all the details people liked.
  • Azfelix This inspires so much confidence in the knowledge that government employees also have oversight over the proposed emergency braking rules. Ancient Athenians utilized the process of banishment. Perhaps we should consider implementing it for every government agency at every level.
  • MrIcky Its going to sell really well for a little bit, then everyone who wanted one will have one and it will sell almost nothing ever again-primarily well to do flower shop delivery vehicles after that first wave.
  • MaintenanceCosts It will have an initial period of, well, buzz because of the Type 2 nostalgia.Whether it has legs beyond that period will depend on whether VW can get competitive on two things: (1) electric powertrain efficiency, where their products have been laggards so far (hurting range badly), and (2) software. The packaging looks good and will help, but they need to get those other things right too.
  • Oberkanone Priced too high though not by much.