By on February 3, 2017

Sometimes, a brand, person, or thing is forever tainted by an unfortunate occurrence.

Think of Anthony Perkins and the movie Psycho. Because a character can be played a little too well, the roles really didn’t pour in after that. The same goes for Ted Kennedy and a certain incident involving an Olds 88.

In the automotive world, few people bothered picking up a second-generation Chevrolet Corvair, despite the elimination of the previous generation’s wildly controversial — an potentially deadly — swing-axle rear suspension.

Stigma skews people’s perception, and Volkswagen, frankly, has had enough of it. So, in an effort to keep the name of its most fuel-efficient production vehicle clean, VW has dropped a certain fuel from a model that once knew nothing else.

In Europe, the word BlueMotion means only one thing: the most mileage you can squeeze out of a diesel Volkswagen Golf. As the thriftiest entry in the lineup, the Golf BlueMotion traditionally paired a small diesel motor with all the aerodynamic improvements VW could muster, making the already stingy TDI look like an F-350.

Of course, the rest is history. Nowadays, the mere presence of diesel causes consumers — and regulators — to raise an eyebrow in suspicion at any claim made by the automaker.

Volkswagen would rather not have that. Luckily, technology has allowed for an alternative. Instead of sipping stigma juice by the thimbleful, the next-generation Golf BlueMotion will adopt a gasoline hybrid drivetrain, forever separating itself from rumor and suspicion.

Speaking to Autocar, VW brand head Herbert Diess said the advent of 48-volt electrical systems make the switch possible.

“We will still offer small capacity diesel engines in the next Golf because they remain important in many markets, and because for customers who do high mileages they will remain the most economical choice,” Diess explained.

“But 48v allows you to recycle energy more efficiently than 12v and to use it to drive the car with an electric motor of about 10- or 12kW, at a much lower cost than you can with a full hybrid powertrain today. So for those who drive mostly in the city or only cover 6,000 to 10,000 miles a year, the new mild hybrid solution should be better.”

The BlueMotion, along with the rest of the Golf line, should receive an eighth-generation makeover for 2019. All models will adopt the 48V system. However, while a hybrid gasoline Golf ultra-sipper is good news for eco-conscious Europeans, the variant has never been offered for sale in the U.S. Most hybrids around these parts are usually built and sold for little profit, all in the interests of boosting the automaker’s corporate average fuel economy.

Now, don’t take this as a prediction, but there’s probably a not-too-difficult business case to be made for Volkswagen challenging the Toyota Prius family and other well-known hybrids on U.S. soil. By bringing the BlueMotion stateside, it could erase some of the environmental stigma attached to the brand. Fully electric vehicles ring the bell on the holiness scale, but there will likely be no small number of buyers scared to take the leap into VW’s looming EV bonanza.

[Image: Volkswagen Group]

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19 Comments on “Volkswagen Wrestles a Revered Model from the Icy Grip of Stigma...”


  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    @Steph Willems
    From your own post
    “We will still offer small capacity diesel engines in the next Golf because they remain important in many markets, and because for customers who do high mileages they will remain the most economical choice,”
    Contradicts what you posted, Yes they will be offering diesel in other markets for the Bluemotion Golfs

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      They will offer diesel Golfs, yes. But Bluemotion will become a hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        @th009
        More on that from Diess
        “”We will still offer small capacity diesel engines in the next Golf because they remain important in many markets, and because for customers who do high mileages they will remain the most economical choice,” Diess explained. “But 48v allows you to recycle energy more efficiently than 12v and to use it to drive the car with an electric motor of about 10- or 12kW, at a much lower cost than you can with a full hybrid powertrain today. So for those who drive mostly in the city or only cover 6000- to 10,000 miles a year, the new mild hybrid solution should be better.”

        It would not make business sense for VW to combine such 48v mild hybrid technology with a modern small-capacity diesel engine, however – since doing so would result in a car too costly to appeal at the value end of the Golf model range. “Diesel hybrid is too expensive for this part of the market,” Diess explained.”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Hmm. In the US market, “VW hybrid” usually = “no sale”, and mild hybrids are always a dud.

    Good luck to ’em.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      VW goofed the hybrid configurations. Most people are not interested in $30K Jettas, but that’s the only way they sent us the hybrids. Now with diesel kaput they have the freedom to offer full hybrid model ranges.

      It’s a bad time for fuel sippers though. Gas has been around $2/gallon for like 2 years now. With the juggernaut dollar only positioned to get stronger I imagine it will stay pretty low, weakening demand for these kinds of cars. VW dun goofed.

      I would be interested in seeing if they can do some kind of e-turbo though.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      VW’s lone hybrid in the US market was the Jetta from a few years ago. Fuel economy (real world) was slightly better than in the gasoline model (around 38MPG), and was significantly less than what was available on the TDI models (usually 45MPG+), which were also being marketed as clean and green. That’s while being a heavier car with less room inside due to the batteries. Comparing it to the current 1.4T Jetta it’s not much different, but again has more complexity. That’s the problem with trying to convert a gasoline model to a hybrid, you end up compromising too much.

      The only way a VW hybrid takes off is if it is designed from the group up to be a hyrbid or electric platform. Now that the TDI is dead (at least for anything newer than 2015) there is a hole in the upper end of the fuel economy range. If they can produce hybrids that get 45MPG+ like the TDI did then they’ll pick up sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      Jetta Hybrids were priced on par with Camry Hybrids and Fusion Hybrids, which both had similar real world fuel mileage from an already tried and tested hybrid system (and without requiring premium gas).

      You would have to be a big VW fan to buy a smaller, less powerful Jetta using an untested powertrain from a company that doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Another diversion tactic from notorious supplier BOTCH: Hey, look over here: 48 volts! That FOUR TIMES more than you’re used to…
    And speaking of volts, we’re coming for your Volt, GM!

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I predict that 48V systems with mild hybrids and electric turbos will be the typical, standard ‘ICE’ engine within a decade.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I’m still waiting for the Corvair mafia to come to the defense of the swing axle rear suspension. Ralph lied!

    • 0 avatar
      greenbrierdriver

      I wasn’t going to do it, but you tasked me and I now must. The Corvair swing-axle models were investigated by the US Government and determined to be no more unsafe than any other car of their time. They did and do handle differently, which was an issue, but the Mustang killed anything without a V8 and the Corvair couldnt easily accommodate one. My Corvair van has the swing-axle set up and is one of the best riding and handling box van I have driven, up till the minivans came about. It could use more power, but then, what cant??

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Specs please>
    MSRP for various trim levels and equip details
    EPA mileage ratings
    Power train specs
    Interior pics

  • avatar
    TMA1

    “The BlueMotion, along with the rest of the Golf line, should receive an eighth-generation makeover for 2019. All models will adopt the 48V system.”

    This would explain the story I read last week about the next GTI being a hybrid. I dismissed it as just a rumor. If true, that’s just awful. All that extra weight and cost. For once, I’m glad the US cars VW sells are years behind those the rest of the world gets.

    I’m going to have to start putting some money in the GTI fund.

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    Can’t make a coil pack
    Gonna try 48v hybrid

  • avatar
    northeaster

    “Now, don’t take this as a prediction, but there’s probably a not-too-difficult business case to be made for Volkswagen challenging the Toyota Prius family and other well-known hybrids on U.S. soil. ”

    One could also argue that’s almost a guarantee it won’t happen: though Audi is a money printing endeavor in North America, VW has not exactly been averse to shooting itself in the economic foot here.

  • avatar
    Michael Haz

    I kinda like the BlewMoney diesel product line though.

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