Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion world premieres in Los Angeles

November 22, 2014
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Volkswagen presented the world premiere of the VW Golf SportWagen HyMotion, a research vehicle equipped with a fuel cell powertrain, at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Hydrogen and Oxygen are combined in the fuel cell to form pure water to produce this power source. The energy released in this “cold combustion” process is used to power the electric motor.

The zero emissions electric motor releases just clean water vapor as exhaust. Volkswagen is presenting this vehicle to demonstrate how the hydrogen fuel cell could be implemented in its MQB architecture based vehicle.

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion rear three quarters left

The fuel cell system generates a power of 136 PS. The drive components of the vehicle are integrated in the front whereas the battery is fitted in the rear, above the rear suspension, and tanks are mounted in the vehicle floor. The electric motor in the fuel cell vehicle is the one from the e-Golf. There’s also a high-voltage lithium-ion battery to store kinetic energy recovered from regenerative braking, to assist in the fuel cell’s starting phase, and to provide a boost to the acceleration.

The company has also equipped several research vehicles built on the U.S.-spec Passat with the same drive components from the Golf SportWagen HyMotion and is testing them on the streets of California.

Volkswagen has provided all the details about the new Golf SportWagen HyMotion in the press release below.

GOLF SPORTWAGEN HYMOTION MAKES GLOBAL DEBUT AT THE 2014 LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW – Press Release

  • Golf SportWagen HyMotion is first fuel cell vehicle based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB)
  • Concept car showcases versatility of the MQB architecture
  • Estimated range of 310 miles of zero-emissions driving
  • All drive components are VW developments; electric motor and transmission shared with e-Golf
  • Fuel cell was developed at VW’s Technology Center for Electric Traction
  • Total system power of 136 PS, 0 to 62 mph in estimated 10.0 seconds

Wolfsburg/Los Angeles — At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is presenting the world premiere of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion—a research vehicle with a fuel cell powertrain. For this particular power source of the future, hydrogen and oxygen are combined in the fuel cell to form pure water. Energy is released in this “cold combustion” process, energy that is used to power a zero emissions electric motor.

The front-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen HyMotion accelerates from 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 10.0 seconds. The hydrogen is stored safely in four high-tech carbonfiber tanks, which are located in the underbody, where they do not impede on interior space. Their fuel capacity enables a driving range of 310 miles (500 km), and they can be refilled in about three minutes. Unlike many of its competitors, Volkswagen is following the strategy of placing alternative drivetrains in high-volume production vehicles. Just like the all-electric e-Golf and the plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, the SportWagen HyMotion shows how fuel cells could be integrated into a well-engineered, usable, and attractively priced vehicle.

Volkswagen Passat HyMotion front three quarters left

Several research vehicles have been built based on the U.S. version of the Passat, using the same drive components as fitted in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion. The fleet of Passat HyMotion vehicles is currently being tested on the streets of California.

Drive components
The key drive components of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion were developed by Volkswagen Group Research in Germany. The fuel cell system conceptualized at the Volkswagen Technology Center for Electric Traction has a system power of 100 kW or 136 PS. In addition, the concept car has a high-voltage lithium-ion battery, which stores the kinetic energy recovered from regenerative braking, assists in the starting phase of the fuel cell and adds a dynamic boost to the maximum acceleration of the Golf Spor tWagen. The fuel cell and battery power an electric motor that has been adapted from the e-Golf.

Volkswagen fuel cell powertrain

The mechanical underpinnings for this innovative car are based on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) that was developed by Volkswagen and is used throughout the Group. Thanks to use of the MQB, the current Golf and the new Golf SportWagen have advanced to become the world’s first vehicle model series that can host all conceivable drive types.

Today, the Golf is already offered with gasoline engines (TSI®), diesel engines (TDI®), an electric drive (e-Golf) and, in some markets outside the U.S., natural gas and plug-in hybrid drivetrains. No other car offers such a variety of drive types. Volkswagen is showing the Golf SportWagen HyMotion to demonstrate for the first time how a hydrogen fuel cell could be implemented in an MQB-based vehicle. Before the market launch, a hydrogen infrastructure would have to be created: not only a broad network of hydrogen fuel stations, but also the production of the hydrogen itself. Hydrogen only makes sense as a fuel if the primary energy used to produce it comes from renewable sources.

Volkswagen has integrated the drive components of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion in the front of the car. The battery is housed above the rear suspension, and the tanks are mounted in the vehicle floor. Thus, the interior of the Golf SportWagen HyMotion offers the same amount of space as in all other versions of the model. This optimal space utilization was possible because provisions were included for all technically feasible drivetrains and body versions in the planning of the MQB architecture.

In the Golf SportWagen HyMotion, the components from high-volume production vehicles were merged with entirely new engineering. As noted, the electric motor was adapted from the new e-Golf, and the motor and coaxial two-stage 1-speed transmission are located at the front of the engine compartment; both components were developed by Volkswagen. Also arranged in the engine compartment are the stacks of the hydrogen fuel cell ; the cooling system; a tri-port converter that regulates the voltage between the electric motor, the fuel cell and the lithium-ion battery; and the turbo compressor. The latter ensures that oxygen from the surrounding air flows into the fuel cell.

The power electronics are located in the center tunnel area; they convert the direct current (DC) into three-phase alternating current (AC) which is used to drive the motor. The power electronics also integrate a DC/DC converter, which converts energy from the high-voltage battery to 12 volts to supply the 12-volt electrical system.

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery is mounted close to the trunk and rear suspension. The 12-volt battery is also mounted at the rear. Two of the total of four carbonfiber composite hydrogen tanks are housed compactly under the rear seat and the other two in the luggage compartment floor. The hydrogen is stored in the tanks at a pressure of 700 bar (10,150 psi). As in all other Volkswagen vehicles, the tank filler neck is located on the right side at the back of the car.

Volkswagen Passat HyMotion rear three quarters left

The lithium-ion battery is the second powerplant in the vehicle, and it plays an important role in the drive system. As mentioned, it stores the energy recovered during regenerative braking. It is also an important component in all phases during which the chemical reaction needs to be initiated by feeding oxygen and hydrogen to the fuel cell (the latter via the turbo compressor), such as when driving off from a start. At this point in time, the fuel cell has not built up enough electrical power to drive the motor by itself. In these phases, the lithium-ion battery jumps into action and supplies energy to the electric motor. The high-voltage battery also operates like a turbocharger during fast acceleration and while accelerating to top speed. In what is referred to as boosting, the fuel cell and battery work in an alliance to supply overall system power of 100 kW or 136 PS.

Functional principle of the fuel cell
Volkswagen Group Research is utilizing the company’s fourth-generation fuel cell in the Golf SportWagen HyMotion Concept—and simultaneously in a research vehicle based on the U.S. Passat. Group brand Audi is also presenting the same fuel cell at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show in an A7. All three fuel cells are based on the LT PEM fuel cell stack developed in Germany. LT stands for the type of fuel cell: Low Temperature. PEM stands for Proton Exchange Membrane. The key element of each individual fuel cell—many of which are combined to form a stack—is the proton-conducting membrane (PEM). Each membrane is located between an anode and a cathode in the fuel cell. Hydrogen flows into the cell at the anode end and oxygen at the cathode end. The hydrogen and oxygen react and combine to form water at the cathode end. Energy is released in this process.

Volkswagen Passat HyMotion front three quarters right

At the anode, the hydrogen is split into electrons and protons. The positively charged protons “migrate” through the membrane to the cathode. The negatively charged electrons flow to the cathode via the external electrical circuit. This flow of current supplies electrical energy. At the cathode, the protons react with the inflowing oxygen and the electrons to produce “process water”, most of which escapes via the exhaust system. Around 60 percent of the energy input in the form of hydrogen is converted to electricity. The fuel cell converts the chemical energy of an oxidation process called “cold combustion” directly into electrical energy. The “exhaust gas” is nothing other than clean water vapor.

Technology Center for Electric Traction
Since the 1990s, Volkswagen has been researching the potential of hydrogen fuel cells and transferring this drive technology to production cars. At the end of the past decade Volkswagen decided to build a dedicated Technology Center for Electric Traction near its headquarters in Wolfsburg, to further advance its capabilities in fuel cell development. The Isenbüttel site was chosen for this center and construction of a special research center for electric drivetrains began in 2001. The infrastructure of the technology center includes a dedicated hydrogen fuel station. Volkswagen produces the hydrogen for the pressure tank station from renewable solar-generated electricity. A photovoltaic array was installed at the site for this purpose.

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