Published March 19, 2012
By Jeff Cobb
Sources familiar with Volkswagen AG’s plug-in vehicle plans for VW, Porsche and Audi have said Porsche will build a plug-in hybrid version of its Panamera sedan for 2014.
According to Automotive News, the timing for a U.S. introduction of this pending European Plug-in Panamera is yet to be determined, if at all. A regular hybrid Panamera is already available, but U.S. sales have been modest, with 73 units delivered in January and February.
VW, which is Europe’s largest automaker, also plans to introduce plug-in versions of the Audi Q7 crossover and VW Passat for the Euro market in 2014, or 2015. Beyond this, as has already been reported, there will be an Audi A3 plug-in variant in 2014.
Automotive News noted that Rudolf Krebs, VW's group chief officer for electric traction, said of VW’s thinking these days, "We are really convinced that the future of hybrids won't be pure hybrids, but the plug-in hybrids."
This news comes as GM is shutting down the Chevy Volt’s production at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant for five weeks, as Toyota is launching its plug-in Prius, and many other automakers are looking at variations on the plug-in gas-electric theme.
Krebs said VW considers that plug-in hybrids offer a better balance. He said they can be as efficient in short range driving as a regular EV, but are capable also of going long distances like any conventional gasoline-powered car.
VW is starting with higher-end vehicles as plug-ins first, Krebs said, as people who own them do want the longer range capability.
Automotive News (subscription req'd)