Volkswagen Passat GTE Plug-In Hybrid Returns With Upgrades

MAR 16 2019 BY MARK KANE 50

The Volkswagen Passat GTE is back

The Geneva Motor Show was the first major opportunity for general public to see the facelifted and upgraded plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Passat GTE, available both in Passat GTE (sedan) and Passat Variant GTE (estate) versions.

It’s a very interesting mainstream PHEV, which with up to 55 km (34 miles) of WLTP range on a 13 kWh battery should without a problem repeat or beat the sales result of its predecessor, which was pretty popular, especially in countries like Sweden.

Let’s take a look at the new videos from the show.

Volkswagen Passat GTE specs:

  • 13.0 kWh battery (31% more energy than the previous generation – 9.9 kWh)
  • up to 55 km (34 miles) of WLTP range; up to 70 km (43.5 miles) of NEDC range (20 km or 40% more than the previous generation)
  • system output: 160 kW (218 PS) from 1.4 TSI gasoline turbocharged engine (110 kW / 150 PS) and 85 kW / 115 PS electric motor.
  • 3.6 kW on-board charger (full recharge in around four hours)
Volkswagen Passat GTE
5 photos
Volkswagen Passat GTE Volkswagen Passat GTE Volkswagen Passat GTE Volkswagen Passat GTE

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50 Comments on "Volkswagen Passat GTE Plug-In Hybrid Returns With Upgrades"

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Well, what can you say..?
Considering VW’s bragging about.. everything basically, this is an dissapointing effort in the ev space.

It’s… just enough? Adequate? Doesn’t really push any boundaries, unfortunately. And since the Passat is most popular as a company car, most of these will probably never be charged since the users will have gas cards. This isn’t really the car’s fault though; I’m just always disappointed at how much most people suck. I just watched this video for instance (, and at about 7:00 was seized by an urge to punch the guy. Unfortunately I think this guy is pretty typical of GTE drivers. OTOH I drive one, and it’s always charged.

That’s the problem. It’s just enough, on most days. With 13 kWh the typical owner will put almost a full charging cycle on the battery from day one, and it’ll degrade correspondingly. Then it’s either a full cycle per day plus petrol, or plugging in at work and start putting more than one cycle per day on it, making it degrade faster still.

It’ll be ok for no more than 10-15%, and bad for 85-90%, of the life of the vehicle. Perhaps utterly useless for the last 50%, if there’s so little to gain from plugging in several times a day, and you anyway have to go to gas stations, that people simply won’t bother with it.

Don’t remember reading where this was meant to be a purely electric car. I’m sure they’ll be very sad that you’re disappointed

It’s the electric motor and battery. Just under-sized to the almost ten year old Volt:
13KWh and 85KW
16KWh and 111KW
The Volt is ten years ahead of its time. It’s coming true.

A just as good explanation is the GTE is a decade behind its time.

Will it be sold in North America this time?

Unlikely, I think. This Passat wasn’t designed for the American market and would likely have trouble with American crash tests, if nothing else.

It would have no problem with the American crash tests. The European safety tests are a lot tougher than the US versions. There are a few differences though, like in how to deploy airbags, but that is basic stuff that VW have done millions of times.

The main reason is that there is no real market for it in the US and there is nothing to gain for VW to bring it there when they can sell more profitable polluting versions to a much less green region.

Yeah, like them trying to dump “fixed” TDI diesels in the U.S. for $8k.
I suppose at that price they dumped a few.
You could not pay me to drive one of those POS.

why not? those ‘dirty vw diesels’ emit about 30% less co2 than the average car in the US.

I seriously doubt VW would have skipped US crash standards in development, especially as most of that modeling is now in CAD systems.

Not really. The Euro Passat earned 5 five star on Euro NCAP.
The Euro NCAP is similar to the NHTSA in the U.S., but it’s stricter.

The Euro Passat GTE is too expensive for Americans. This is why we get the Americanized Passat, which is large and cheap.

The Euro Passat GTE is too expensive period.

The sales say otherwise.

Yes. The sales say people aren’t very good at thinking it through. If it had just 5 kWh more, adding $750 or so to the overall cost, it would be about twice as good! Remember that range decreases a tiny bit with every charge cycle. That means you can’t simply say a car with 50 km range can go 50,000 km in 1000 cycles. After the first 5000 km (just over 100 cycles) it only manages 45 km per cycle, so 200 cycles will be hit before 9500 km, not at 10,000 km. Each 100 cycles get less mileage. A conservative estimate is that if this PHEV does nearly all is driving on electricity, which is the whole point with a PHEV, it’ll need at least 2200 cycles for just 100,000 km. The average car does that, in Europe, in about six years. What’s the winter range going to be then? If we actually meant it when we say the climate crisis is indeed a crisis, we wouldn’t be so unambitious with stuff like this that is so incredibly easy to fix. Range-extended PHEVs with good range could really be useful. They can get people who are hung up on… Read more »

No, this is the MQB based Passat for Europe, the American Passat is based on an older platform because it has to be cheaper.

Americans can’t be that stupid to buy a vw (cheater)

VW Passat PHEV for North-America will be released later this year as 2020 model

PHEVs should be EVs with a 15-25Kwh battery + a 50-70Kw motorgenerator. Not ICE cars with a battery + electric motor strapped on it

kWh and kW….

are you sure it is not KWh and KW?
I am actually aware of the capital W, if I knew my misstyping was causing you such existential pain, I would have been more careful dear micke.
Oops, I did it again!

Kilo scaling for units use a little k.

K is Kelvin, the SI unit for temperature. Just like in “kg”, kilogrammes, “kB”, kilobytes, kV, kilovolts, it most definitely is kW and kWh.

13kwhr is close enough. You don’t want too much excess (for the typical commute) battery you have to carry around.

It has an 85kw electric motor.

There is no such thing as kwhr or kw, it is kWh (both in singular and plural) and kW. It is not that hard, you manage to start your sentences with a capital letter so you are obviously capable enough.

Is it possible to heat and cool the car without turning on the ICE? If not it is useless in most parts of the world.

So basically 99,9% of the cars in the world are useless then, riiiiiight….🤦🏻‍♂️

Yes it is, already worked that way in the previous generation.

Didn’t you get the memo? They are doing it all wrong. They will be broke any day now. Any. Day. What’s that? They doubled global sales over the last 10 years and blew past GM and Toyota to be the biggest auto company on the planet? They seem to be taking failure rather well.

You see that it is such a struggle for ice manufacturers to give consumers more battery on phev. Instead of using a larger battery to get the range up to 100km they want you to buy this crap now. This way they can sell you another car later with a 100km range phev. Nonsense.

The bigger battery makes it more expensive. For a lot of people, myself included oh, I would be able to get back and forth to work on electric power only.

It’s the power, too. Just a nice all electric mode, that doesn’t reach for the engine if all you’re doing is tooling around. 85KW barely lets you free.

For how long? 55 km initial range means capacity loss will be rapid! Before the car has gone 5,500 km it’ll have more than 100 cycles, since it starts to degrade immediately and no longer provides 55 km per cycle.

If you drive just 10,000 km per year on electric it will put perhaps 220, 240, 265, 295, 330 cycles on the battery in just the first five years. The car should have at least two thirds of its life still ahead of it, but the battery is already beyond what’s normally considered the end of its useful life.

If for simplicity’s sake we say the battery degrades 10% after 100 cycles, and does so in a linear way, you get the same number as with 95% throughout the period:

55 km/cycle * 0.95 * 100 cycles = 5225 km

A 500 km BEV, same formula:

500 km/cycle * 0.95 * 100 cycles = 47,500 km.

You can play with the assumptions, but I hope it’s clear why initial range needs to be significantly more than average daily driving if the car is to be useful as a PHEV for it’s whole life.

PHEV batteries and BEV batteries are not the same and have not the same characteristics.

The issue is that a larger battery wouldn’t fit in a chassis not specifically designed for it without eating significantly into interior/cargo space… So it’s the best they can do without putting serious effort into it.

A new generation of batteries allows upping all of these lazy PHEV conversions from ~10 kWh of the last generation to now ~13 kWh — which conveniently is just enough in most vehicles to achieve the 50 km WLTP range needed to qualify for incentives in most European countries… (Though a few larger ones still fall below, and thus likely will see very poor sales in Europe.)

Having said that, the range of that new generation should actually be sufficient to cover most use for a lot of people. The other issue however is that these lazy PHEV conversions are generally underpowered in all-electric mode (85 kW vs. 160 kW in this case), making all-electric driving a pretty unrewarding experience…

It absolutely would. Just dropping in new the best current cells where the old ones used to be could have given at least 50% capacity increase, and we only got 31%.

A more substantial redesign could easily have doubled capacity, but would have likely postponed the reentry to market until the next generation (chassis), since such redesign isn’t cheap.

Very few people need 100km worth of battery daily.

They be best served with a LR bev or a visit to the local estate agent to move closer to work.

Maybe not 100km, but certainly 50-60km, if you want to cover, say, 80-90% of drivers… Which translates to 100km of range in the official specs after taking into account motorway speeds, heating or airconditioning in the relevant seasons, and 20% range degradation after a few years.
Recall many people don’t have workplace charging. I think th ePassat misses the boat a little by not having a 15kWh battery.

True, but you’re forgetting that the car should be made to last at least 250,000 km. If battery degradation didn’t exist that would still be nearly 5,000 cycles with just 55 km range, but since degradation is real, the car will have substantially less range after 500 cycles, which will be less than two years in this case!

It’s childish to blame the manufacturers. They make what people will buy, and they deceive as much as law allows to push their wares. Every adult should know that much. And the implication if you think that’s not working as well as it should or could is to change the system. Either restrict corporations’ freedoms (rules for products, or communication, or lobbying, or all of the above) or blame people who buy their products. We know the latter doesn’t work, of course — and it’s really no wonder when corporations are so free. Witness the scrutiny under which Elon Musk has come for tweeting Tesla would make about 500k cars in 2019, shortly after correcting it to say the production rate at the end of the year should be about that. And compare it to what corporations are allowed to lie about, and routinely do, in their marketing to consumers, and in their analyses given to regulators. Isn’t it strange, how anything that might be perceived as possibility misleading is policed in this way when the target is people with money, but it’s perfectly fine to spend billions on massive campaigns that are designed to be manipulative from start to… Read more »

Battery size and range just about right for a phev.

This is only for China and Europe. Good that they are getting serious and boosting the all electric range.

Sometimes I wonder about getting a PHEV over a BEV. During the week I commute 10 miles to my work which has a charger. On weekends I drive up to visit my children up in Salt Lake City which is 350-400 miles away. A car like this could be OK.

The problem with these PHEVs offered by the german brands is that it’s exclusively in EV mode only at low speeds. Also if you push the pedal and demand more from the car the gas engine will kick in.

These are compliance cars with the WLTP system in EU. Effectively you will save on gas but you won’t be capable to run exclusively on electricity. In this regard it is different from the Chevy Volt, for the worse.

“The problem with these PHEVs offered by the german brands is that it’s exclusively in EV mode only at low speeds.”

No. In E-mode it can drive up to 130 km/h by electric motor.

“Effectively you will save on gas but you won’t be capable to run exclusively on electricity.”

Again E-mode. It depends on how far you need to drive whether you can do it all electric.

Maybe move closer to your children, or go by train or bus? Driving 7-800 miles round trip in a single weekend sounds frankly dangerous, at least if you’re not in your twenties.

As usual the regulators aren’t keeping up with the times. They did something right in Europe by requiring PHEVs to have more all-electric range to get tax benefits, but not enough. 31% more capacity than the previous generation means they didn’t even need to step up to the best drop-in replacement cells available. In the same period, many BEVs have almost doubled their capacity, even when the same physical space for the battery is still being used. BMW i3 exactly a doubling, now with 120 Ah cells instead of 60 Ah in 2015. Leaf has gone from 24 kWh to 40 kWh in the same period (and 20,5 to 38 useable). VW e-Golf, which uses PHEV cells, has increased 50%, from 24 to 36 kWh. Hopefully regulators will demand continues improvement. Another 30% over the 55 km this car has on offer, when conditions are great, would get PHEVs to a really useful level. Don’t get me wrong. 55 km is enough for many people’s daily driving. But such a small pack needs twice the cycles the original LEAF pack needed for the same mileage, so it is only reasonable to expect twice the degradation. In Europe (average day temp… Read more »

Cycle… Cycle… Cycle… Cycle… Cycle…

Notice how many times that reference is used in this discussion and not a single comment uses it correctly?

The definition of “cycle” is when a battery is fully discharged, then fully recharged. That’s something which actually happens with a PHEV. Avoiding those extremes is what greatly improves the longevity of the pack.

Look no further than Toyota for a Prime example (bad pun). A full charge is only 83% capacity, not 100%. A full depletion is only 13% capacity, not 0%. That’s very similar to what other automakers do and the advice given to anyone wanting to keep their battery-pack from getting stressed.

So when you see a post referring to how many “cycles” a battery can handle, keep in mind that doesn’t apply to the PHEV systems designed to prevent extremes. The result is a battery-pack that lasts longer.