We know that diesel vehicles are efficient and generally have a long service life, allowing for several years of use while maintaining great overall mileage. Today we see that newly designed diesel engines run cleaner and more efficiently than ever. The same goes for hybrid technology, as we see vehicles becoming more efficient and, thanks to longer lasting batteries, we are getting longer life from hybrid battery packs. In fact, battery packs are becoming so durable that companies like Hyundai are providing a lifetime warranty on the battery packs in their hybrid vehicles. Therefore, it is only a matter of time before someone tries to merge a diesel and hybrid powertrain to produce a highly efficient vehicle.
At the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Volkswagen unveiled its off-road concept vehicle using a diesel hybrid powertrain. The vehicle had a 1.8L turbocharged diesel engine mated to an electric power-assisted motor and Volkswagen claims up to 131 miles per gallon. They also claim that the 4,000-pound vehicle can go from 0 to 60 in 6.5 seconds. Those results are pretty impressive and since it was a concept you could practically say what you wanted about your product because no one could handle it. However, Volkswagen has already been caught testing another diesel hybrid still in car form, more or less.
Volkswagen has been working on a diesel hybrid car by the name of XL1. The 2014 Volkswagen XL1 uses an 800cc turbodiesel engine to produce less than 50 horsepower, but about 89 pound-feet of torque. Then the 27 horsepower electric motor assists the diesel engine and helps propel the 1749 pound car. Volkswagen claims up to 235 miles per gallon with this ultralight and aerodynamic vehicle. With such low power, it seems that the vehicle will not win you any races unless you go extreme distance. But the good thing about these Volkswagens is the fact that the company is working on developing highly efficient vehicles through the use of standard technology. So if we can just get Americans to start buying diesel vehicles, we should see other manufacturers driving the development of diesel-electric vehicles.
Today we see that trains offer incredible efficiency thanks to diesel generators that produce electricity to power the locomotive. So why couldn’t we do this with heavy duty trucks and commercial grade vehicles, so they produce much better fuel efficiency and save the business owner a fortune on fuel bills? Either way, it looks like Volkswagen is moving forward with technology and hopefully we’ll see other companies catch up and start producing diesel hybrid vehicles. For 2013, we’ll start to see diesel engines hit US markets, but it still all depends on whether or not the vehicles sell.