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Monday, March 1, 2010

Volkswagen Announces Plan to Expand Its Test Fleet of Electric-Drive Vehicles

Volkswagen over the next few months will start testing 500 battery-powered Golfs with single-charge ranges of about 95 miles in North America, Europe and China, and will start selling a hybrid version of the Jetta (pictured) in the U.S. in 2012, says Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn.

Winterkorn added that electric vehicles will account for about 3 percent of Volkswagen's sales by 2018, which would translate to about 190,000 vehicles assuming 2009 unit sales levels.

Such production hints at more everyday-type EVs from Volkswagen, whose biggest splash on the EV front has been with its Audi division's super sporty E-Tron. That car may hit the market in limited numbers as soon as late 2011 with a selling price at about $160,000 and a 0-60 mph quickness of about 4.5 seconds.

Volkswagen, whose representatives didn't immediately respond to requests for confirmation, last week said its new CrossGolf will be available with turbocharged gasoline engines ranging from 105 to 160 horsepower as well as with several turbodiesel options.

The gas-powered engine's gas mileage will be about 7 percent better than the previous incarnation of the CrossGolf, while the diesel mileage, rated under the more generous European standards, will top out at about 45 miles a gallon.

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