VW unveils plug-in Tiguan GTE Active concept

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Volkswagen AG on Monday unveiled a plug-in version of its Tiguan SUV as it attempts to further electrify its lineup.

The German automaker, embroiled in an emissions-cheating scandal over its diesel vehicles, showed off the five-seater Monday morning. It includes a six-speed automatic transmission and will have a driving range of 580 miles on both gasoline and its two electric batteries, including 20 all-electric miles.

It has a turbocharged and direct-injection TSI gasoline engine that produces 148 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, as well as two electric motors that get 221 combined horsepower.

Depending on the driving situation, the Tiguan GTE can be driven by the front, rear or all four wheels, and was designed to perform well off-road.

“This all-new Tiguan, built on VW’s advanced MQB platform, should put the German automaker back on even footing in the lucrative midsize SUV segment,” Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement.

“Offering an advanced Plug-In Hybrid version also confirms VW’s commitment to alternative powertrain technology beyond diesel engines.”

Volkswagen last year was caught with roughly 11 million vehicles worldwide that used cheat devices during emissions tests, and the automaker faces billions in fines from a number of government agencies.

Brand CEO Herbert Diess said last week at the CES technology show that the automaker was in talks with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. He said VW has received approval to fix 8.5 million cars in Europe. About 500,000 cars are affected in the U.S.

“We disappointed our customers and the American people, for which I am truly sorry and for which I apologize,” Diess said in Las Vegas.

CEO Matthais Muller, speaking to reporters after the reveal, said the automaker will continue to apologize for the scandal.

“We’ll do that today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow…then we’ll be looking forward to a great future for Volkswagen,” he said.

Muller admitted the automaker must look to other alternatives to diesels.

“We are looking forward to a transformation process in the automotive industry,” he said. “We will develop better solutions for combustion engines. Along with that, we will look to the battery electric vehicle area.”

VW said Sunday night it plans 20 electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2020.

The automaker last week at CES unveiled an electric Microbus concept that uses a new “Modular Electric Platform” designed specifically for plug-in vehicles. VW said the new architecture will be a template for the future.

VW says that by the end of the decade it will enable a series of production cars to have a pure electric range that is on par with today’s gasoline-powered cars.

The Tiguan GTE Active concept starts every drive in all-electric E-mode, where it can reach a top speed of 70 mph.

It can be switched to its hybrid GTE mode with a button on the center console. When in GTE mode, the concept can reach a top speed of 120 mph and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds.

It has six driving programs: on-road (comfort or eco), offroad (rocks, sludge and sand, or gravel), sport, snow, charge (battery is charged while driving) and battery hold (maintains a constant battery charge).

The concept on the floor of the auto show is based on the automaker’s second-generation Tiguan SUV. In 2015, VW sold 35,843 Tiguans, a 42.7 increase from the year before.

The concept is 176.9 inches long, 74.8 inches wide, 69.5 inches tall and has a wheelbase of 105.6 inches.

It includes safety features like front-assist with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring, an active hood for pedestrian protection, lane-assist and the automatic post-collision braking system.

The concept’s infotainment system includes a 9.2-inch touchscreen that can be controlled by gestures, an active info display and a head-up display.