volkswagen crossblue concept

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will play a big role in the moves the Volkswagen Group is making towards increased e-mobility starting in 2014. Oliver Schmidt, general manager engineering and environmental office for Volkswagen Group of America, speaking at the recent SAE 2013 Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Technologies Symposium, said the automaker will be launching at least six plug-in hybrid models across its brands.

Schmidt was somewhat vague about details on the six PHEVs. At least two will be Volkswagen models – a plug-in hybrid version of the European Passat and a plug-in hybrid Golf. Some will be Audis, though how many wasn't specified. He did say, "Then in '14 and beyond the products that we want to do are plug-in hybrids for the bigger Audis."

Currently, VW is producing five hybrid models that could see plug-in versions – the Touareg and Jetta from Volkswagen, the Porsche Cayenne S and Panamera S and the Audi Q5. There are two more hybrids in pre-production – the Audi A6 and A8, Schmidt said, though he didn't specify whether any of these seven hybrid models will have plug-in hybrid counterparts.

Two recently unveiled plug-in hybrid concept cars could be among the seven Schmidt mentioned? The Volkswagen XL1 concept was shown at the Geneva Motor Show and VW has promised a limited production run of 250 units, at least. The Volkswagen CrossBlue SUV concept (pictured) was on display at the Detroit Motor Show.

Green Car Congress points out that Volkswagen's MQB (Modularen Querbaukasten, aka Modular Transverse Matrix) will play a part in developing plug-in hybrid technology. MQB standardizes engine component parameters used by the automaker in engines across its brands and vehicle classes. So, for example, the Volkswagen Golf now has the same orientation and assembly position whether it uses a gasoline or diesel engine. This standardization will also simplify the development of alternative powertrains such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The CrossBlue highlights the evolution of technologies that will play a role in future MQB-based electrified vehicles, Schmidt said.