VW goes greener with hybrid version of strong-selling Jetta
Photo credit: VW
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Volkswagen AG took the wraps off its first mass-market hybrid today with the world debut of the 2013 Jetta hybrid.
The car signals a new direction for VW, which has stepped more cautiously into the battery-electric market than some competitors.
VW says the new vehicle will be the world's first hybrid to use a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Drivers also can cruise on electric-only power for short distances and speeds of up to 44 mph.
VW says the new hybrid version will get combined city-highway fuel economy of 45 mpg, although U.S. regulators will make the final determination.
The car goes on sale in November 2012. Pricing has not yet been announced.
With the Jetta hybrid, VW aims to take on the Toyota Prius -- now in its third generation -- and other rivals in the segment.
The carmaker also hopes to build on the success of the redesigned Jetta sedan.
The Jetta sedan had U.S. sales of 177,360 last year, a 44 percent increase over 2010. In December, the Jetta was the 10th-best-selling car in the United States with 14,422 units sold.
The Jetta hybrid will be sold at all of VW's U.S. dealerships and have much broader availability than the 2011 Touareg hybrid, which was sold by a small number of dealers.
VW will use a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine in the new gasoline-electric hybrid, marking the first time the company has used this type of engine in the United States.
The company also will debut its seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission stateside on the Jetta hybrid, updating the six-speed direct shift gearbox now widely available in its lineup.
The hybrid's addition fits with VW's broader strategy of giving buyers a range of fuel-saving options for each model.
The European carmaker has long led the U.S. market in diesel sales, but has trailed competitors in bringing battery-electric vehicles to market.
That's changing. VW plans to sell a plug-in version of its popular Golf in Europe starting in the 2014 model year. The Golf EV could come to the United States, but VW has yet to firm up a timetable.