Volkswagen has used the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to premiere an interesting mid-size diesel plug-in hybrid SUV concept designed specifically for the American and Canadian markets – the CrossBlue. The concept's powertrain combines a turbocharged 4-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel engine, two electric motors (40 kW in the front and 85 kW in the rear), a dual-clutch transmission and an almost baffling number of driving modes to deliver a combined city/highway fuel economy of 89 MPGe (2.6 l/100km equivalent) when driven in hybrid mode, or 35 MPG (6.7 l/100km) in diesel-only.
At a length of 4,987 mm (196.3 inches), the six-seat CrossBlue is slightly longer than VW’s existing Tiguan and Touareg SUVs.
Putting out 700 Nm of torque, it can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds (0-100 km/h in 7.5 seconds) and there's also a “propshaft by wire” electronic four-wheel-drive system for heading off the tarmac.
In its default hybrid driving mode, the CrossBlue's electric motors are used whenever possible. By switching to Eco mode, parameters such as the air conditioner and accelerator pedal characteristics are managed for minimal fuel and electrical consumption. In Sport mode, on the other hand, emphasis is placed simply on getting as much power out of the drive system as possible – this includes using both electric motors to give the vehicle a boost when accelerating.
For pure electric driving (E-mode), the rear electric motor provides propulsion and the vehicle’s top speed is dropped from from the usual 127 mph (204 km/h) down to 75 mph (120 km/h). Based on a U.S. test cycle, the CrossBlue can travel up to 14 miles (22.5 km) on one charge of its battery in this mode.
Should the driver use up the battery while in E-mode, the vehicle will automatically switch back to its diesel engine.
Energy for the electric motors is stored in a center tunnel-located, 8-module, 9.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged from a 230-volt outlet. Charging is also supplemented by regenerative braking if Battery regeneration mode is selected. Upon reaching its destination, the SUV can also serve as an electrical generator, powering devices such as coolers via a built-in socket.
Full-time four wheel drive can be selected by switching to Offroad mode. In this state, the diesel engine provides energy to the front electric motor, which both powers the front wheels and provides power to the rear motor. That power is sent by electrical wire, not mechanically, hence the system’s being known as “propshaft by wire.”
Other notable features of the CrossBlue include controls that rise out of the dash when the ignition is turned on, a 10.2-inch touchscreen for controlling the infotainment system and checking the state of the hybrid system, and iPad minis mounted in the back of the first row head restraints.
There’s presently no word on when – or if – we’ll see a production version of the CrossBlue.