After years on the eco-sidelines, Volkswagen is definitely trying to make up for lost time. The company has just kicked off its Think Blue road trip touring the country trying to get the word out about its new fuel efficient hybrid and electric car models.
Gearing toward environmentally friendly consumers, the tour will stop at outdoor community events and conferences around the country, including cycling competitions, outdoor music festivals, environmental summits, and public policy conferences.
The company says that “the current tour schedule spans more than 12 cities in ten states from coast to coast, with additional stops likely to be added in coming weeks.”
The first three events will take place on the West Coast from April to May, including:
- April 19-22, Monterey, Calif. – Sea Otter Classic Bike Race
- April 29, Denver, Co. – Cherry Creek Sneak (Running Race)
- May 6-9, Los Angeles, Calif. – Electric Vehicle Symposium
Traveling in a 53-foot trailer decorated with Think Blue imagery, and pulled by a high efficiency cab, Volkswagen will showcase a number of its newest fuel efficient vehicles, including the 2013 Jetta Hybrid and the E-Golf prototype.
The Jetta Hybrid made its debut earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show. Some of the new Jetta’s stats include:
- 0-60 mph in under 9.0 seconds.
- An average fuel economy of 35 mpg.
- A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
- A four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque from 1,400 rpm.
The Jetta Hybrid can also be driven in pure electric mode at speeds of up to 44 mph for up to 1.2 miles, depending on driving conditions. The Jetta will also have a regenerative braking system, which is becoming increasingly common on hybrids and electric vehicles today.
The regenerative braking system will release more kinetic energy back into the lithium-ion battery. Volkswagen also boasts that the Jetta Hybrid’s “Autobahn-proven technology makes it the fastest compact hybrid in its class.”
The E-Golf also has some impressive stats. It looks just like the four-door Golf, with seating for five, but has an electric motor that delivers 199 foot-pounds of torque. The lithium-ion battery has an energy capacity of 26.5 kilowatt-hours, and the battery itself consists of 180 cells.
The E-Golf has an estimated driving range of 93 miles, but the company says that “the specific range will depend on driving style and factors such as use of air conditioning and heating.”
The E-Golf does though have a number of features to preserve energy while driving, says Volkswagen. The vehicle can coast whenever the driver releases the accelerator pedal, and there are three settings for regenerative braking.
Last month, Volkswagen announced plans to begin a pilot program to test 20 prototype E-Golfs over a nine-month period across the United States.
The E-Golf pilot program will take place in Detroit, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., starting this month. Twelve of the vehicles will be allocated to selected employees during the time period.
By studying the E-Golf across different geographic regions, Volkswagen plans to monitor the effects of climate conditions, driving patterns, and energy performance to gain data and insights for future development.
In addition to testing the vehicles themselves, the drivers will also test the specific services designed for the E-Golf. As part of this, employees will have 220-volt charging stations installed in their homes to charge the vehicles.
Each driver will receive an iPhone and dedicated app with the vehicle, allowing the user to check the battery’s charging status, regulate the car’s internal temperature, gauge how much charging time is left, and even remotely start a charging procedure.
Volkswagen has also set up a website dedicated to the fleet test to support the users 24/7 in case of specific questions and in order to allow users to share their feedback on the E-Golf.
Dr. Rudolf Krebs, executive vice president and head of Volkswagen Group E-Traction, said in a statement that, “During this test, we will examine in detail all the technical and administrative aspects of typical consumers using electric vehicles on an everyday basis.
“For a successful market launch of electric vehicles, the way that home chargers are handled is very important, along with easy access to public charging infrastructure. For the U.S., we also have recognized the specific legal regulations as well as the different characteristics of the electricity supply – both the reduced 110-volt mains supply and the types of charging plugs.”
Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, added, “This E-Golf test fleet will provide critical feedback on these vehicles that will prove essential in our sustainability efforts.”
While on the Think Blue tour, the company’s product and technology specialists will be on hand guiding visitors through the exhibits, showing the vehicles and answering questions.
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