Volkswagen has revealed the Golf Twin Drive plug-in hybrid concept, the marque's most ambitious fuel-saving vehicle yet which is slated to enter fleet trials with the German government in 2010. The Twin Drive system puts a 61kW electric motor and a 91kW turbodiesel motor side-by-side in the Golf's engine bay in an unusual arrangement that sees only one of the two motors operational at any one time, unlike the parallel system used in the Prius and Civic Hybrid.
The key appeal of the Golf Twin Drive lies in its plug-in hybrid system, which allows the electric motor's batteries to be charged from an ordinary household power outlet. A full charge is supposedly enough to endow the Twin Drive with a range of around 50km before the diesel motor kicks in, which should be more than adequate for the average suburban commuter. Top speed under electric power is estimated to be 'fast enough' at 120kph.
Other than the diesel-electric drivetrain, the rest of the package is good ol' humble Golf. No fancy LEDs, no bizarre hump-backed shape (I'm lookin' at you, Prius), just the same inoffensive interior and exterior that's helped make the Golf so popular. Aside from those "Twin Drive" stickers, the only major cosmetic changes are the addition of a couple of buttons to the centre console, a power-allocation display on the nav screen and an extra fuel gauge to show you how many electrons are left swimming in your e-tank.
More detailed technical specs on the Twin Drive system are still a little hard to come by and it's not quite clear whether the diesel engine is capable of providing a charge to the battery packs, or indeed whether there's any sort of regenerative braking system employed. Those two technologies would be enough to provide a very handy range extension to the Golf Twin Drive, and could potentially give Volkswagen a viable Prius-fighter should the 2010 trials prove successful. What we're wondering is: "Why wait 'til 2010?". Surely one of Europe's most successful automakers could afford to fast-track development of such a politically (and environmentally) correct vehicle and capture themselves a slice of the burgeoning hybrid car market now rather than later?