Volkswagen has introduced its version of a plug-in hybrid SUV at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The VW Tiguan GTE Active Concept combines a gasoline engine with two electric motors and all-wheel drive to create an SUV with a claimed fuel economy of 75 mpg (3 l/100 km) and a range of 580 miles (933 km).
Featuring a permanent all-wheel drive system that supplies power to all four wheels automatically or at the touch of a button, the Tiguan GTW Active Concept is equipped with a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine that produces a 110 kW (148 hp) and 250 Nm (184 ft. lb.). It also has two electric motors – one front (40kW/220 Nm – 54hp/162 ft. lb.) and one rear (85 kW/270 Nm - 114 hp/200 ft. lb.).
The drive system consists of a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission with the front electric motor integrated into the transmission case.
To improve fuel efficiency and to take the most advantage of the hybrid design, the concept vehicle always starts off electrically in zero-emission mode. With a sufficiently charged battery, the rear electric motor can power the car for up to 20 miles (32 km), temporarily turning it into a rear drive vehicle. Battery capacity is listed at 12.4 kWh.
The company has also incorporated what it calls an electric propshaft, whereby energy for driving the rear axle flows by wire rather than mechanically from the front electric motor to the rear electric motor in certain conditions.
The concept SUV has six driving programs: Onroad, Offroad, Snow, Sport, Charge and Battery Hold, accessed by a rotary/push-button switch to adapt the systems to various driving conditions.
Three drive modes – Hybrid, E-Mode and GTE – are activated by separate console buttons. The GTE mode is currently found in all of Volkswagen's plug-in hybrids. It is a more performance-oriented mode that has the turbocharged engine and the electric motors work together for maximum output.
Regenerative braking, whereby both electric motors works as generators during braking, and a coasting function that disengages the engine and motors when a driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator, help further improve fuel economy.
Volkswagen has also made changes to the exterior design to make this Tiguan more off-road friendly. Ground clearance under the axles was increased from 180 to 225 mm (7 inches to nearly 9 inches), and the maximum ground clearance under the vehicle was increased from 200 to 245 mm (nearly 8 inches to 9.7 inches). Easily replaceable front and rear underbody guards equipped with four polymer protectors offers protection from off-road elements.
Inside, Volkswagen has equipped the Tiguan concept SUV with a gesture control infotainment system, two-tone Nappa leather upholstery, and touch slider climate controls.
Volkswagen is touting the Tiguan GTE Active Concept as a completely redeveloped second generation of the Tiguan line – but there is no indication if the concept vehicle is an exact replica of what the company will debut any time soon.