One of the big surprises at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit will be Volkswagen’s electric concept car. The company has made it clear, however, that this is nothing more than a concept model, and that it might borrow a few design cues from the Beetle. One of VW’s former electric concepts, which saw the light of day in Frankfurt’s show two years ago, was called the E-Up.
Press coverage of the electric concept car is overshadowing the real story for Volkswagen at this year’s NAIAS, which is its debut of an electric hybrid that will likely rival Toyota’s popular Prius. VW company data points to a late 2012 offering of the Jetta hybrid. Because Volkswagen already has a huge presence in the clean diesel niche, the company has a respectable track record in the green segment, thus the introduction of a hybrid should go over well with the public.
For over 32 years, the Jetta name has gone on Volkswagen Group models, and has seen countless iterations, from gasoline to electric to clean diesel. The previous version of the electric Jetta, called Jetta City Stromer, only saw limited production in the early 1980s. Around that time, VW decided that electric car batteries were too expensive to be put into consumer autos and ended the line. Now, with virtually every major car maker offering some version of all-electric or hybrid drive vehicles, the company’s upper echelon have decided the time is right for both a pure electric and a hybrid, opting to use the Jetta platform and name to bring those models to the public.
The Toyota Prius hybrid made its world debut at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show as a concept car, and was offered for sale two years later. While both automakers have deep experience with green transportation, the forthcoming rivalry will almost certainly make automotive history.
For more information:
Volkswagen’s E-Up electric car:
Volkswagen in general:
Detroit/North Amer. Auto Show: