German car giant Volkswagen has recently announced that the Jetta Hybrid was timed to be the fastest production made hybrid vehicle in the world. The 2013 model was clocked at the annual Speed Week of the Southern California Timing Association.
The vehicle was driven by Motor Trend Associate Editor for Road Test Carlos Lago. The compact sedan was specially modified to reach its top speed of 185.394 mph or 298.363 kmh as it ran a course at the Bonneville Salt Flats over at Wendover, Nevada.
To comply with the Association Rules, the company advised that it would use a modified powertrain from its Research and Development team at its facility in Wolfsburg, Germany. The modifications would ramp up the horsepower capability of the hybrid vehicle. From its Wolfsburg facility, the engine was brought to the Volkswagen Test Center in California for final calibration and implementation of drivetrain design. Other modifications to the vehicle were undertaken by A-Salt Racing of California and Advanced Product Engineering for safety and reliability of the car as it ran the Salt flats.
According to Marc Trahan of Volkswagen, “It was a real challenge to integrate the complex hybrid elements and generate the power needed to run at these speeds. The Jetta Hybrid Land Speed Record project shows both the sporty nature of our hybrid offering and the technical excellence of our engineers in Wolfsburgand in the Test Center California.”
The 2013 Jetta Hybrid was unveiled last January 2012 and would become available in the U.S. market by the year’s end. The company boasts that the vehicle would have a combined fuel economy of 45 mpg or 19.1 km/l. This translates to nearly a twenty percent reduction in fuel consumption for a similarly sized vehicle with a regular drivetrain. The vehicle has a 1.4 liter four cylinder turbocharged direct injection gasoline engine that weighs in at just 216 lbs or 98 kg producing 150 horsepower. The vehicle can accelerate from zero to sixty in less than nine seconds and is the first seven speed DSG dual clutch automatic transmission hybrid vehicle in the world.
Aside from the conventional engine, the 20kW electric motor can provide an additional 27 horsepower and utilizes a 220 volt, 1.1 kWh lithium ion battery pack with sixty individual cells placed behind the rear seat. At full electric mode, it can reach up to 44 mph or 70 kmh but only for about 1.2 miles or 1.9 km at this speed. Like many hybrids and electrics, the Jetta utilizes regenerative braking systems to recharge the battery using kinetic energy at a higher rate of efficiency compared to other similar systems.
This operates when the driver of the Jetta releases the gas pedal to step on the brake, the decoupling clutch disengages the internal combustion engine so that all the stopping is done by the brakes of the vehicle rather than the combination of brakes, drag of the drivetrain, and engine torque. This efficient system is able to return energy to the battery to recharge it.
Depending on the charge of the electric vehicle, the gasoline engine of the Jetta Hybrid stops running when the car is at full stop in city driving or in accelerate/decelerate situations during bumper to bumper traffic. When the Jetta driver puts the car’s transmission in the S position or in manual shift mode, the drive train system is able to produce horsepower from both engines measuring at 170 hp.
Volkswagen says that the Jetta Hybrid is its quietest car in its class and company and comes in at a curbside weight of 3310 lbs or 1501 kgs. The technology in the car includes Bluetooth technology, LED tail lights and a satellite radio system from SiriusXM. Other safety features include having six airbags, anti-lock braking system and the Electronic Stability Control system.