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Transportation Earth

Volkswagen Seeks To Repair Its Image By Focusing On Electric (wired.com) 230

An anonymous reader writes: The emissions scandal that's plagued Volkswagen over the past month will be tough to recover from. But they're trying. The company announced a number of changes they're making to their line of vehicles. First, they'll be revamping their flagship Phaeton vehicles to be all-electric. (If you live in the U.S. and haven't heard of these, don't be surprised — they aren't marketed there.) Second, they've announced their intention to install top-of-the-line environmental protection systems in their new diesel cars. (In other words, they'll actually do what they're required by law to do, but vehicle prices will jump significantly.) Their press release is difficult to decipher, given the density of buzzwords and vague promises, but they indicate a greater general focus on hybrids and electric vehicles in the future.
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Volkswagen Seeks To Repair Its Image By Focusing On Electric

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  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @08:44AM (#50724861) Journal
    Given the Chevrolet side saddle gas tanks imbroglio, the Ford Pinto, and the Toyota floor mat malfunction,

    I'd say Volkswagon can count on the short term memory of the buying public.

    Like a bad breakup, time will heal this, too.

    • I'd say Volkswagon can count on the short term memory of the buying public.

      Yup. I bought one this weekend.

      • what was it like in the dealership? were they 'hungry' or acting like nothing happened?

        I wonder if people can go to VW and get 'deals' (even on non TDI cars) given the current publicity vw is having to deal with.

        • by aaronl ( 43811 )

          I also just purchased a VW last Thursday. The dealership was saying they were making quite a few more sales than usual from people trading in TDIs for regular gasoline cars. They still had a huge "clean diesel" banner up, though, heh.

          • I also just purchased a VW last Thursday. The dealership was saying they were making quite a few more sales than usual from people trading in TDIs for regular gasoline cars. They still had a huge "clean diesel" banner up, though, heh.

            Hmm..so, are they selling the used/new TDIs for a cheaper price? Can you get one of them before they "fix" it?

        • Everything seemed fairly normal, though I don't buy cars often and I was paying cash, so my experience and idea of normal might be off a bit. Sales dude joked about it not being a diesel we laughed for a second and that was about it. I spent over 12 hours test driving cars from a bunch of different manufactures that day and ended up with a Passat, which I was happy with. Comparatively it's a nice car, the fit and finish on the interior is pretty superior and it handled well on some pretty rough roads.

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      Given the Chevrolet side saddle gas tanks imbroglio, the Ford Pinto, and the Toyota floor mat malfunction, I'd say Volkswagon can count on the short term memory of the buying public.

      It isn't even jsut a matter of short term memory (although yes, that certainly plays into it.) I had a Chevy in the 70's, another from the 80's, and now I have a recent model. The one from the 70's was awful, just a total piece of junk. Right down to a soda can in the door straight off the showroom floor, rattles, plastic coac

  • VW need to contribute to infrastructure in countries where they are sold. For example, in the UK most of the rapid charger network was paid for by Nissan, and a lesser number by Renault. Other EV and PHEV manufacturers like BMW, VW, Mitsubishi, Vauxhall, Toyota and the rest contributed next to nothing, and we badly need more infrastructure to support their vehicles.

    • by ndavis ( 1499237 )

      VW need to contribute to infrastructure in countries where they are sold. For example, in the UK most of the rapid charger network was paid for by Nissan, and a lesser number by Renault. Other EV and PHEV manufacturers like BMW, VW, Mitsubishi, Vauxhall, Toyota and the rest contributed next to nothing, and we badly need more infrastructure to support their vehicles.

      I agree but I think all the manufacturers should get involved in this and I'm surprised more shopping areas have not started to install charging units. I know in my area (Maryland) I shop at Mom's Organic Market simply because they have charging stations for when I'm shopping. Also as I have an electric car it has to be new meaning I should have money to shop. This seems like the perfect time to install them as electric car owners have funds to spend.

  • And by that is due to fine print saying you must use our arbitration system and the courts will just say that.

  • Electric technology is not hard. Infact, it is ridiculously easy compared to designing a low-emissions, direct injected, variable timing, variable geometry turbocharged combustion engine that needs to do 300,000 kms in a range of harsh conditions. Even Tesla uses a pretty compromised powertrain design (oversized induction motor without multi-speed gearbox) because is just doesn't really matter at this point (plus they get the ludicrous mode thing as a byproduct).

    The only issue electric cars have now is the

    • The only issue electric cars have now is the cost of the batteries.

      That is not the only problem though it is an important one. And that problem will be solved with scaled up production as you mention.

      The biggest problem electric vehicles have is refueling time and as a byproduct of that, range. They're making excellent progress on this but aren't quite there yet. I figure they either need to get the range up to 700+ miles with an under 1 hour recharge time or they need to get the recharge time to under 15 minutes with a 250 mile range. I think that is doable but it wi

      • I don't think we need cars with a 700 mile range to make a huge impact on emissions. Most people I know very rarely travel over 300 miles in a day. I also know a lot of families with 2 or more cars. They never need both cars to have extremely long range. So if every house with 2 cars converted 1 of them to electric, there would still be a huge savings in emissions. There's also a lot of people who very rarely travel out of the city by car. They either fly or take the train. They also have the option o

      • Sure but electric cars have one big card that they haven't really played yet - low running costs. As battery prices fall and we move more into normal-people cars (as opposed to wealthy first movers) this will become more and more apparent. Imagine now if you could get a Leaf for the same price as a petrol equivalent. For many people the fact that they could do all their normal commuting and have an extra $30-40 in their pockets each week to spend on something else will be extremely compelling. Add to this n

  • by goodmanj ( 234846 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @09:31AM (#50725203)

    I did an obsessive amount of research on VW's clean diesel technology, and the engineering issues that motivated their decision to cheat. Going hybrid would solve all their problems. Well, the technical ones anyway.

    The problem is that their patented "clean NOx trap" pollution control technology involves storing NOx pollution in a zeolite "molecular sponge". The sponge needs to be cleaned out periodically by changing the engine fuel-to-air ratio: when that happens (for a few seconds every minute or two), engine performance is drastically reduced. VW's engine computer tries to keep this from happening while the driver is accelerating, but apparently it wasn't good enough, so they programmed the computer to not bother with trap cleaning unless it's being tested in an EPA lab.

    With a full hybrid system, the engine can run at optimum efficiency at all times, and can take a break to clean the NOx trap whenever it wants: the electric motor and batteries can take over.

    • Diesel hybrid is a nonsense. I know they exist, but still the whole hybrid jazz is about overcoming problems of petrol engine the diesel just does not have.
      • Diesel hybrid is a nonsense.

        Really? Every locomotive in use today is a diesel electric hybrid. Frankly I think a diesel hybrid would make a lot of sense for many applications, particularly large trucks. Electric motors are great for around town stop/start traffic where diesels aren't so hot and diesels are great for steady state long distance driving (like highways) where electric motors aren't so hot. Their strengths are very complimentary.

        I know they exist, but still the whole hybrid jazz is about overcoming problems of petrol engine the diesel just does not have.

        Diesel engines are not *that* much different from gasoline engines.

        • Large trucks, locomotives and ships are another case. They are not "hybrids" in a sense of having batteries, they have electric transmission which is heavier and more complex but scales better and is more efficient than mechanic or hydro. For the locomotives and mine dumpers, it also brings the option to run on overhead electricity. As for petrol/diesel, they differ a lot. Enough to make a 20-40% difference in overall car efficiency. First of all, diesel engine is much more efficient at partial or near-idle
          • As for petrol/diesel, they differ a lot.

            Disagree. There are some important differences but the basic principles of operation are little different. Suck, squish, bang, blow. They mostly differ in what sort of operation they are optimal within. Little different than an Atkinson cycle engine versus an Otto cycle engine.

            Enough to make a 20-40% difference in overall car efficiency.

            40%? Show me one real world example of a car with a diesel getting 40% better fuel economy than a gasoline engine of similar horsepower in the same chassis. In the real world the fuel economy advantage tends to be 10-20% for any

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          Really? Every locomotive in use today is a diesel electric hybrid.

          Oops. Incorrect. First of all, it's not "every" locomotive. There are many all-electric locomotives. 25% by length of the world railway network is electrified. 50% of all world railway transport is carried by electrical traction. More importantly, there are essentially NO hybrid locomotives at all, because the concept is stupid. The engine use profile is very different from automobiles. Diesel-electric locomotives are simply diesel-powered lo

          • More importantly, there are essentially NO hybrid locomotives at all, because the concept is stupid.

            Uh-oh. You're about to say something stupid.

            Hybrid by DEFINITION means "a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle".

            Yep. And in a series hybrid [wikipedia.org] (see footnote) without battery storage like the typical diesel-electric locomotive, the first power source is the diesel fuel and the second power source is the output from the diesel engine. They are consumed by the diesel engine, and by the electrical generator set respectively. The output from the generator set is consumed by the traction motors.

            (footnote: note that my citation is actually a subheading of your citation. when you cite

    • Rather than have diesel hybrid cars it would be better to have diesel electric cars.

      • What's the difference? I classify the "diesel electric" system used on trains, in which the engine turns a generator but delivers no direct power to the wheels, as just another sort of hybrid. An inferior sort, since directly powering the wheels can be more efficient at some points on the speed/power curve, so it's better to have that option.

        • by Quimo ( 72752 )

          Railpower currently does offer a proper Hybrid. They call it the Green Goat (Goat being slang for a yard engine.) The first prototype went into use in 2001 so the superior type does exist.

        • The difference is that with a diesel-electric, as in trains, you can tune the engine / generator to run at optimum RPM at all times for fuel efficiency, and then vary the voltage going to the motors as a throttle. When using mechanical power from the engine to direct-drive wheels, you'll be changing the RPM and may not be as efficient on fuel.

          There's a lot of different variables that go into this kind of stuff, and the guys that make really big fucking diesel engines decided long ago that running the diese

  • I think Volkswagen should really pursue the Cross Blue concept they unveiled years ago. This would be a seven passenger SUV with a diesel generator for the electric motor with plug-in-hybrid capabilities. This would be similar to the Mitsubishi vehicle which is selling so many they still have not been able to bring it to the US. They should move in this direction where they use the diesel engines as the generator instead of the direct drive model. I would think a diesel engine run at a specific RPM woul
  • Sigh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Wednesday October 14, 2015 @09:50AM (#50725365) Homepage

    > Phaeton

    Right. So what they're going to do is make yet another "Tesla killer" that sells to a few thousand rich people, and leave all the people that bought a Jetta in the cold. The net effect of this on overall emissions will be basically zero.

    Perhaps they would be better off spending this on making a diesel hybrid PEH drivetrain that could equip 80% of the cars they sell? This is a move that takes far less development, would cost less in real dollar terms, and would *drastically* reduce overall real-world emissions.

  • Inch for inch a Golf. 85 mile range. Down to USD$28K ($21K after the tax credit). For $500 Bosch comes and installs a fast charger in your garage. What's not to like?
  • Electricity is generated in coal power plants, or in nuclear power plants. Those pollute.
    Also, recycling batteries is hard, and it pollutes. The sum of pollution over the lifecycle of an electric car may well be a lot worse than that of a gasoline car.

    • by Socguy ( 933973 )
      In some places electricity generation is dirty. But it doesn't have to be. As renewable generations continues to accelerate, electric cars become cleaner and cleaner. They also provide interesting possibilities for symbiosis. Cars that can mop up the excess energy produced by variable generating systems like solar or wind when generation is high but cut back when low.

      Instead of discounting electric cars because some places use coal as part of their generation mix, why don't you advocate for the pha
    • by fnj ( 64210 )

      Electricity is generated in coal power plants, or in nuclear power plants. These pollute.

      And in natural gas (low pollution), and some oil power plants. And you conveniently left out hydropower (zero pollution), wind power (zero pollution), solar power (zero pollution), and geothermal power (zero pollution). Nuclear "pollution" is practically zero compared to coal. Not counting accidents, nuclear "pollution" is practically zero. Coal power liberates into the environment vastly more radioactivity per GW per y

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        Actually, in the UK, electricity is increasingly produced by diesel generators, because they need backup power which can start fast when the wind drops.

        So the UK 'electric' VWs may well be diesel-powered after all, just with an extra layer of transmission losses on top.

  • My guess is that all the carmakers are involved (more here: http://geekcrumbs.com/2015/10/... [geekcrumbs.com]). Wouldn't it be ironic if they all ended up guilty, and that was what finally provoked a massive shift to electric?

  • My goodness VW. You got caught cheating, mad people are still mad... now just stop talking for a while. Nothing you say is going to be seen positively in the near future.
  • Tests conducted by VW showed that their electric cars actually have negative emissions, leaving the air cleaner than it was before they drove through.

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