Click on the image for a gallery of high-res images of the Volkswagen Touareg.

Truck Tend is reporting that Volkswagen has changed its plans to introduce a range of hybrid models including in its entry level vehicles. Apparently VW's recently ousted CEO was planning to introduce hybrid versions of relatively cheap models such as the Jetta and the Golf/Rabbit. The new head of VW, Martin Winterkorn, doesn't agree with the old strategy pointing out that high mileage diesel variants of these models already exist.

With hybrid powerplants apparently costing VW almost $2,600 extra per vehicle, its been decided that the Touareg luxury SUV can more easily absorb the additional cost and is a better candidate for improved fuel economy.

Currently the Touareg offers three engine options, a petrol V6 or V8 and a monstrous diesel V10. Fuel economy for the three is estimated by the EPA at 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway for the V6, 14 mpg city / 18 mpg highway for the V8 and 17 mpg city / 23 mpg highway for the V10 TDI. Clearly the V10 TDI is the most desirable option, but you have to pay for all that torquey goodness - the V6 starts at $37,990 while the V10 TDI starts at $59,020 according to Volkswagen's website.

The higher cost of a Touareg means that offering a hybrid option on even the entry level model would add just 7 percent to the cost. In comparison, with the Jetta starting at $16,490, offering a hybrid option on the base model would add almost 16 percent to the cost.

Analysis: I'd love to see a hybrid Golf, especially a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid! But realistically, this updated plan for rolling out hybrid technology makes a lot of business sense for Volkswagen. Their diesel Golf for example already delivers fantastic fuel economy of 5.7 L per 100 km / 41.3 mpg (Australian rating) for a combined city/highway cycle. This way the people who can afford hybrid Touaregs also get to beta test the system for the rest of us!



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[Source: Truck Trend]

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