By on June 23, 2016

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Rear

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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22 Comments on “Auf Wiedersehen: Volkswagen Quietly Kills Sole Hybrid Model...”

  • avatar

    Charging too much money for kinda sub-par product is the Volkswagen way. They’re the Volvo of Germany.

  • avatar

    Hell, the dealers never wanted this car. Volkswagen foisted it on them under the auspices of it being available in very limited quantities in order to be “in the hybrid game”.

  • avatar

    I think VW knows that TDIs will never be sold here again, no mention of anything related to them and new trim levels that could easily work to replace buyback vehicles with a comparable gas model.

    They’re now offering a Wolfsburg Golf that slots above the S trim with heated seats and rain sensing wipers.

    The biggest thing though is the option of 4-Motion on S Sportwagens and you can get 4-Motion with a manual. If VW’s deal on Tuesday makes owning another one favourable, at least they have some better options for 2016.

  • avatar

    This does not bode well for the hybrids and PHEVs they are banking the company’s future on. The pricing was, to put it diplomatically, “ambitious”. Seems like VW’s problem was they made the base hybrid a fully equipped model. If they offered them across a full range like the TDIs it would have been a different story

    • 0 avatar

      I think the problem with the Jetta Hybrid, beyond not selling well (or being marketed much), was that it was a one-off product engineered without any scale of economy with other models. New hybrids should use their new platform sharing technology and be engineering to utilize components they’ll be sharing with several models. This will allow them to get the pricing down to reasonable levels.

      The hybrid tech used in the Jetta Hybrid wasn’t really used in any other models or even in other markets. Even the newer hybrids like the A3 PHEV share hybrid tech with Golf and Passat hybrid models they’ll selling in Europe now. If their commitment to PHEV and BEV models proves real, they should be able to get competitive in pricing to the old TDI models.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Those mythical 30 EVs need to arrive sooner rather than later.

    GM and Tesla have actual running 200-mile compact EVs with delivery dates announced (Tesla’s date is doubtful, but they’ll deliver).

    Nissan and VW have words.

    • 0 avatar

      In order to reduce range anxiety and increase market acceptance, their fleet of new electric cars should all have small gasoline engines working in conjunction with the electric motors and batteries.
      Why not, it works perfectly well with the Prius!

  • avatar

    I prefer a hybrid car than gasoline and diesel

  • avatar

    What a strategy.

    Go all in, as your fuel economy compliance strategy, on diesels that use fraudulent engine control software to try to get around installing expensive emissions hardware.

    As a hedge in the diesel-hostile US market, spend money developing a sophisticated, expensive-to-make hybrid system featuring a dual-clutch transmission.

    Get caught with the cheaty diesels and have diesel blow up in your face worldwide.

    Instead of doubling down on your now-fortunate-looking investment in the hybrid system, cancel the car that uses it.


    • 0 avatar

      Again, they doomed it from the word “gehen” by essentially making the hybrid available in SEL trim only. It’s cheaper, more refined and way faster than a similarly equipped Prius, and I would bet it’s cheaper and easier to run than a TDI too.

  • avatar

    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?

    • 0 avatar

      We are really getting into diminishing returns. 40 to 50 MPG at 15,000 on regular fuel only saves you a whopping $170/yr at $2.25/gallon. Less than $15 a month. You and I both know the cost of a diesel/hybrid will be way more than ~$850 over a 5 year loan. As fuel economy regs get tighter and tighter manufacturers are gonna keep closing the gap between regular cars and hybrids.

      • 0 avatar

        Since the “payback” argument is tirelessly repeated, it’s equally necessary to keep making two points. One is that no one calculates the payback period for performance or luxury options, and the other is that some people would buy hybrids and ev’s even if gas was free. You think I can’t afford the difference in fuel costs for a regular Escape compared to an Escape Hybrid?

        As for your last point that non-hybrids can close in on the mileage of hybrids. Yes, CVT’s, Atkinson cycle engine operation and engine stop/start are not exclusive to hybrids. Non-hybrids certainly can never benefit from regenerative braking. Improvements in ICE design, streamlining etc. can and will also be applied to hybrids and ev’s, so the gap cannot be closed.

        • 0 avatar

          That you align hybrid tech with luxury features speaks to my point- it works, but not well enough to where it’s a valid value proposition. It’s getting there, but is not there yet.

          And sure, techs are not exclusive to non-hybrids, but how much engine tech are people willing to pay for at a price that’s competitive? It’s pretty obvious why VW sold these things fully loaded… hybrid tech + turbo + DI = eats into profits that selling the car fully loaded can make up for. It was probably not possible for them to profit on a Jetta S hybrid.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Excellent point. Sometimes it’s not about “saving money on gas”, it’s about “using less gas”.

      • 0 avatar

        Yup. This is why I don’t see a very big future for diesel cars. And hybrids only really shine in city driving – on the highway you’re almost always going to get better economy from a gas-only engine.

        I’m still driving my 1997 Passat TDi and I have no plans on ever getting another diesel.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          “And hybrids only really shine in city driving – on the highway you’re almost always going to get better economy from a gas-only engine.”

          Um, no. Most if not all hybrids are some sort of Atkinson-cycle engine, which will get better mileage than the equivalent Otto-cycle.

        • 0 avatar

          “Yup. This is why I don’t see a very big future for diesel cars. And hybrids only really shine in city driving – on the highway you’re almost always going to get better economy from a gas-only engine.”

          The gap is much smaller on the highway than in the city, but I don’t see a lot of gas C+-segment hatches or compact CUVs getting the ~45 mpg that my C-Max gets on the highway in hybrid mode if you keep the speed legal.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      A whole lot of development costs — almost everything about the electric side of hybrid powertrains — can be shared between hybrids and BEVs.

      • 0 avatar

        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.

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