“The greatest potential for saving energy is in powertrains.”
THREE QUESTIONS FOR PROF. JÜRGEN LEOHOLD, HEAD OF VOLKSWAGEN GROUP RESEARCH
Professor Leohold, what priorities does Volkswagen Group Research set in the development of climate-friendly vehicles?
We work according to a three-stage research plan. In the short term, the greatest leverage can be achieved by improving vehicle energy efficiency. In this regard, powertrains in particular offer considerable savings potential. We are also looking for ways to reduce tire friction, to improve aerodynamics and to switch to more lightweight construction – here, we can draw on experiences of Audi and the 1-liter-car project. In the medium term, we see the utilization of sustainable raw materials as being instrumental in reducing CO2 emissions, particularly in the case of second-generation biofuels, which are made from all kinds of biomass waste. In the long term, we plan to switch over to alternative fuels. By this I mean electric vehicles that store power from renewable sources in batteries – or vehicles that use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity while in motion. In either case, however, large-scale series production can only realistically be expected in nine or ten years’ time.
Will the car of the future be a niche vehicle or a vehicle for the masses?
It is more likely to be a niche vehicle. The trend towards target- group-specific usage has been evident for many years – and it will continue. In particular, electric vehicles like the “E-UP!” will initially be used only for journeys of 200 kilometers or less. This makes it ideal for city driving and for people who use their cars to go shopping or travel to work.
Speed and luxury are no longer the main selling factors for these vehicles. How do you aim to win over customers in the future?
This will be above all through technology. For instance with a driver assistance system that can park the car itself. This is essentially a technological feature, but it is also a comfort aspect that will appeal to many people.
State-of-the-art environmental technology
MAKING THE NEW POLO BLUEMOTION THE MOST FUEL-EFFICIENT OF THEM ALL
With an average fuel consumption of just 3.3 liters per 100 kilometers, the new Polo BlueMotion is ushering in the age of the three-liter car while establishing itself as the most fuel-efficient five-seater in the world.
In order to reduce air resistance, the upper radiator grille was almost closed completely, the side sills aerodynamically optimized and the underfloor paneling redesigned. The body was also lowered by ten millimeters.
This recovers energy released by braking and uses it to recharge the battery, relieve the engine and reduce consumption. This “recuperation” of brake energy reduces CO2 emissions by two to three grams per kilometer.
LOW ROLLING RESISTANCE TIRES
The 15-inch light-metal rims are fitted with tires with optimized rolling resistance. These alone help to reduce CO2 emissions by one to two grams per kilometer.
The 75 PS (55 kW) 1.2-liter TDI engine consumes 22 percent less fuel than a conventional Polo TDI. As a result, its CO2 emissions are reduced from 109 to 87 grams per kilometer.
GEAR SHIFT INDICATOR
The gear recommendation integrated in the cockpit instruments shows the best gear stage at any given time. This means that the Polo BlueMotion can be driven continually in the most energy-efficient gear.
AUTOMATIC START-STOP SYSTEM
Any time the Polo BlueMotion comes to a stop in neutral – for example when waiting at a red traffic light – the engine turns off automatically, thereby saving fuel. The engine only starts up again when the driver presses the clutch pedal.