Volkswagen has announced it will launch an electric Golf but that it will start with what it calls, a mild-hybrid version…

AN ELECTRIC VOLKSWAGEN GOLF is coming. Just not yet. That’s the word from Volkswagen which made the announcement overnight, saying it would “gradually” electrify every model in its range. But the starting point will be the introduction of a 48V battery and 48V belt-integrated starter generator.

Volkswagen is calling this set-up a mild hybrid, but that’s not really what it is. I mean, if your definition of a hybrid is a Toyota Prius then the 48V set-up is nothing like that. What VW’s main aim is, is to make possible for the Golf to coast with its combustion engine switched off while the beefier 48V system re-starts the engine while driving as needed.

More than this, the 48V set-up allows for greater energy recuperation and storage via brake energy recuperation; it also provides a torque “boost” at start-up. In all, VW reckons the system will save around 0.3L/100km compared to an equivalent Golf without the 48V system.

Electrifying conventional drives will enable us to further reduce consumption and emissions while also increasing dynamics and convenience,” said Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars with responsibility for Technical Development. Welsch continues: “We are starting this extensive electrification campaign with Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle to date – the Golf. Our newly developed, cost-effective 48-V mild hybrid will pave the way for introducing this type of technology to the mainstream”.

Here’s how VW describes it, “The starter-generator is a true all-rounder. On the one hand, the generator performs the role of alternator and starter. At the same time, it functions as a small, lightweight electric motor that immediately increases drive torque upon start-up by means of an electric boost. The power of the generator is transferred via a belt. The generator also starts the combustion engine – which is switched off as much as possible while the vehicle is moving – in a barely perceptible way. Another versatile element is the 48-V lithium-ion battery. The battery is supplied with energy during a number of operations, including recuperation – i.e. when the vehicle slows down. The starter generator receives the necessary voltage via the battery and the 12-V power supply receives the required voltage via the “DC/DC converter”.

This 48V system will roll-out on the next-generation Golf due in 2019.

Question: Should VW bite the bullet and just roll out a proper hybrid Golf or go straight to an all-electric variant?


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