Volkswagen wants to take advantage of China’s incentives for NEVs (New Energy Vehicles) and intends to release a production variant of the C Coupe GTE plug-in hybrid concept, which will be the brand’s flagship for its low-emissions range. VW Group is adding to its lineup of alternative-powertrain models that will be eligible for the government’s incentives that aim to cut air pollution in its cities.
Subsidies will be given to sales of vehicles that are able to drive in zero-emissions mode for at least 50km. The models that qualify are battery-powered EVs, plug-in hybrids that use both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, and fuel cell vehicles. When VW Group starts making this C-Coupe GTE production version, it will be one of its over 15 locally built up low-emissions vehicles in China.
Among these are the Passat GTE and Audi A6L e-tron plug-in hybrids. These two models will begin production in 2016 in China. Beginning this year, VW will bring in the Golf GTE plug-in. Imported versions of VW’s electric Golf and electric Up minicar are already sold in China.
In an interview, Volkswagen Group China CEO Jochem Heizmann said that by 2020, he predicts that VW will sell “several hundreds of thousands” of NEVs in China. He said that there are no limitations for VW to localize the production of all e-mobility parts.
At the Shanghai auto show, VW introduced the C-Coupe GTE concept. The C in the model’s name refers to the upper C-segment where the car will be targeted at. It is at the same class as Audi’s A6 long-wheelbase version.
VW brand development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser said that the C Coupe GTE offers a “clear preview” of the upcoming production version that’s built exclusively for the Chinese market. He said that cars like the C Coupe GTE can “sustainably improve the urban air quality and hence the living conditions of the inhabitants.”
Powering the Coupe GTE concept is a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine attached to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with an electric motor built into the transmission housing to provide additional power. On purely electric power, it can have a range of 50km. With a length of slightly more than 5070mm, it is a bit shorter than the Phaeton, the top model of the brand.
This car is built for owners who also drive but it has two individual rear seats to satisfy the needs of those who have a chauffeur. Underpinning the C Coupe GTE concept is VW Group’s MLB platform that is also used on Audi models such as the Audi A6L.
The first VW brand model that used MLB is the newest VW Touareg, which had its launch in 2010. The next Phaeton will also use MLB. At the recently held Geneva auto show, VW unveiled the smaller Sport Coupe Concept GTE fastback built on the MQB platform.
The Geneva concept is also the preview car for the upcoming CC coupe-like four-door that’s based on the Passat. In the first quarter, the sales of VW group in China (which is its biggest single market) climbed 2% to 898,400 units.
Meanwhile, sales of the core VW brand decreased by 0.6% to 678,400. Last year, the VW Group reported profits of around 5.2 billion euros from its two Chinese joint ventures from the sale of 3.5 million cars built and sold. For this year, it intends to launch over 60 new and refreshed models and derivatives in China.