Volkswagen is hard at work trying to make more sustainable vehicles that drivers are going to want to operate in the future. To help create those high-tech vehicles that won’t release as many fossil fuels into the atmosphere, Volkswagen is working on advanced engine tech, like a costing internal combustion engine, they’re perfecting their hybrid technology and also trying out different fuel sources such as compressed natural gas to get around.

2017 volkswagen jetta

Driving without the Engine

One of the biggest wastes of fuel is running the engine when it’s not being utilized to drive the wheels down the road. Today most engines run even when they aren’t being used to drive the tires of the vehicle, and that burns up fuel just like driving does. That’s why most engines get significantly worse fuel efficiency in slow stop-and-go traffic than it does out on the highway where the engine is being fully engaged at all times.

To answer this issue Volkswagen developed an engine that does away with this problem. The engine relies on what it dubs as micro-hybrid technology to start and stop it depending on need. In other words, for situations where you are sitting in traffic and not moving, or where you are able to let off the gas to do something like coast down a hill, the engine would shut off entirely and save all that fuel that would otherwise be burnt. The small electric power system built into the engine would help it get started up again where it left off, and you would never even realize that it wasn’t running to begin with.

This advanced engine is going to be released in a few Volkswagen vehicles to start with and the overall offerings are due to expand over time. It’s a pretty cool idea though, and it’s more affordable to implement than say a full hybrid electric setup like you would find in the Prius.

A More Powerful Full Electric Setup

Volkswagen is working hard to make full-electric vehicles more capable. One of the major changes the automaker made to facilitate that is a new electric-architecture. The system will first show up in 2020 in the Budd-e5 and should offer an increased range with powerful and efficient driving mechanics. The more potent battery used in the vehicle will allow ranges up to 185 miles, which is pretty significant compared to most electric vehicles out on the road today.

Testing out Compressed Natural Gas

Volkswagen is also looking closely at compressed natural gas as a fuel source. The company wants to test out relying on this type of fuel to drive vehicles down the road because it’s a good way to reduce emissions over standard gasoline or diesel. Compressed natural gas produced by fossil fuels is more efficient and better for the environment than gasoline or diesel are. The fuel can be produced from biomethane though, and when the fuel is made in that manner it’s much better for the environment overall than the other fossil fuels are.

It’s a good time to be looking into alternative fuel sources, which is why it makes so much sense for Volkswagen to be experimenting with hybrid, full electric and natural gas technologies to make vehicles more efficient and sustainable.