At VW Group, hybrids and plug-ins won't stand out in the family tree

In 2013, Porsche gets plug-in hybrid versions of the Panamera sedan and a potential Panamera wagon, pictured, as previewed this week with the Panamera hybrid Sport Turismo concept.
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PARIS -- Volkswagen Group is getting serious about plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles but it won't follow the lead of Toyota, Ford or General Motors.

That means the group's brands won't embrace different styling or give unique names to its hybrid or electric vehicles.

VW management says that's the quickest way to signal a car is boring.

Instead, the group wants to make sure its plug-ins look, and, more importantly, perform like a VW, Audi or Porsche, say VW Group executives.

VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn made it clear at the group's preview night on the eve of the Paris auto show this week that "this technology is not pie in the sky."

The theme of the VW event attended by thousands of international journalists was "Driven by Desire."

The first plug-in hybrid headed to the United States is a Jetta sedan -- it goes on sale in the fourth quarter.

In 2013, Porsche gets plug-in hybrid versions of the Panamera sedan and 918 Spyder. Both models will come to the United States.

In 2014, plug-in hybrid or electric versions of the VW Passat and Golf, the Audi Q3 and Q7 crossovers and the Porsche Cayenne SUV will debut, according to Winterkorn. The electric Golf and Cayenne are coming to the United States. The others haven't been confirmed.

Later, the Audi A6 and A8 sedans will get plug-in hybrid technology, Winterkorn said. He didn't give a timetable for the Audis. Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi AG, said both cars will be sold in the United States.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com. -- Follow Diana on Twitter

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