The Volkswagen brand will launch only one plug-in hybrid in the next 18 months.
The company told CarExpert in July it wanted to follow up its first PHEV launch – the Touareg R, planned for next year – with the Golf GTE and Tiguan eHybrid PHEVs, with the suggestion they could arrive within 12-18 months of that time.
Its latest comments, however, suggest these aren’t due until the second half of 2024 at the earliest.
Volkswagen is also pushing for a plug-in hybrid version of the T7 Multivan. The next-generation people mover is pencilled in for launch at the end of 2024 alongside the next-generation Transporter and Caravelle.
“We see opportunity for the next five to 10 years for PHEVs, especially in the commercial vehicle segment. But, you know, we just have to wait and see what products that we can offer,” said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles director Ryan Davies.
While plug-in hybrids are outsold in Australia not only by conventional hybrids but all-electric vehicles, Volkswagen sees potential growth in the PHEV space.
“I think we haven’t seen that strong uptake simply because a lot of other brands in Australia haven’t been able to bring [their PHEVs here]. But you notice that some brands who have been able to get them are selling those offerings really well,” said Michelle Rowney, head of product for Volkswagen Passenger Vehicles in Australia.
To the end of November, just 5477 plug-in hybrid cars and SUVs have been sold in Australia against 74,704 hybrids and 28,278 EVs.
The Volkswagen Group recently launched its first PHEVs in Australia in the Cupra Leon VZe and Formentor VZe, though Skoda PHEVs still haven’t arrived here and Audi hasn’t offered one since the short-lived A3 e-tron.
This isn’t the first time the Golf GTE has been earmarked for an Australian launch. The Mk7.5 Golf GTE was under evaluation for our market in 2017 for a 2018 launch, with some vehicles actually making the trip Down Under and even making appearances on TV.
However, high global demand meant the local arm had to abandon its plans.
The Mk8 Golf GTE and current Tiguan eHybrid draw upon the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain, which combines the familiar 110kW/250Nm 1.4 TSI four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor and 10.4kWh (usable) lithium-ion battery pack.
System outputs are rated at 180kW and 400Nm, with drive sent to the front wheels via a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Volkswagen claims the Golf GTE claims can travel up to 62 kilometres on pure electric power per WLTP testing, and like the Tiguan eHybrid it can travel at up to 130km/h without petrol assistance.
In terms of charging, both the Golf GTE and Tiguan eHybrid can be fully charged in about five hours using a 2.3kW AC domestic socket, while a 3.6kW public charger or home charging station can replenish the battery in 3 hours 40 minutes.
Volkswagen also offers a lower-power Golf eHybrid PHEV with 150kW and 350Nm, with an even longer claimed zero emissions driving range of up to 80km.
Given the Golf GTE is a single variant, we’d wager it’ll be priced similarly given it has to sit somewhere between its petrol-powered GTI equivalent ($54,990) and the flagship Golf R ($64,990).
With that said, Cupra’s VZe models are only $1000-2000 below their VZx equivalents – high-performance heroes like Volkswagen’s R models – and 2024 is still some time away.
The Touareg R will slot in at the very top of Volkswagen’s model line-up in Australia when it arrives.
The company says it’s targeting a 2023 launch date but could wait until the mid-life update model is available.
It uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 engine with 250kW of power and 400Nm of torque, mated with a 100kW/400Nm electric motor, a 14.3kWh lithium-ion battery, an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Total system outputs are 340kW and 700Nm, with a claimed 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds.
There’s a claimed 47km of electric range, and a braked towing capacity of 3500kg.