Volkswagen has already made it abundantly clear that it plans to transition from gas to electric cars. However, leadership has recently changed, so it's interesting to learn what might be in store for the massive automaker's future. According to the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America Pablo Di Si, the company is seriously considering adding at least one plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) in the US.
Automotive News recently interviewed Di Si, who is only in his first year in the CEO role. As the US begins to become more interested in EVs, and charging infrastructure becomes more readily available, Volkswagen Group of America needs to make plans about exactly how it will move forward.
Di Si told the publication he sees at least one PHEV in the US lineup in the near future, since VW already has the technology. He explained:
"It takes you a long time to develop a technology. If I wouldn't have any plug-in hybrid in the group, it wouldn't be an idea" worth pursuing, Di Si said this month. But because of Audi, it's a possibility."
While it may not make sense at this point for Volkswagen to sort of "go in reverse" and develop new technology for a powertrain that it's likely to phase out in the future, it does arguably makes sense for it to use the technology it already spent time and money developing.
Di Si is specifically talking about the Audi Q5 e plug-in hybrid, which it currently produces in Mexico. The CEO noted that the group does have plug-in hybrids that he's driven, and they work well.
He said that using the technology from the Q5 e to add another, similar PHEV with the Volkswagen brand name would be a "perfect transition." The company plans to move away from gas-powered vehicles and only make fully electric models by the mid-2030s. Di Si shared:
"Until Electrify America doubles up [its U.S. charging network] in 2025, I think it's a perfect transition. And we have the technology."
"It's a great vehicle. And I've heard from a lot of customers over the last six months expressing interest in a VW brand plug-in hybrid."
The Q5 55 TFSI e is a two-row midsize SUV with seating for five passengers and a 17.9 kWh battery pack that makes it capable of traveling an estimated 23 miles on electric power alone. It's not much different from any Q5, aside from its more fuel-efficient, plug-in powertrain. It pairs a four-cylinder engine with a single electric motor to make a combined 362 horsepower. Prices start at $58,595, including shipping.
Sadly, Di Si wouldn't share which Volkswagen model would be the best option to offer as a PHEV. However, chances are, much like the Audi Q5, it will be an SUV. Automotive News notes that VW's US sales were comprised mostly of crossovers, so the compact Tiguan or midsize Atlas might make sense. The former is due for a redesign in 2025, but it seems Di Si may be suggesting this will happen sooner.