Volkswagen has begun testing a hydrogen fuel cell version of its Passat sedan on the streets of California and has developed a fuel cell model of the Golf SportWagen for research.
The automaker showed the Passat HyMotion and Golf SportWagen HyMotion at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November as concept vehicles. The company said it would produce a fuel-cell powered Golf "as soon as the conditions are right."
Volkswagen is pursuing a slightly different strategy toward hydrogen fuel cell technology than its fellow automakers such as Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, and Audi by focusing its attention on fuel-cell versions of its best selling models. Toyota and Honda are developing new models (the Mirai and FCV respectively), while Hyundai and Audi have applied the technology to niche vehicles such as the Tucson mid-size SUV and A7 Sportback h-tron quattro concept luxury sedan.
Volkswagen's approach follows its development of a range of powertrain options for its vehicles, especially the Golf compact sedan, which is now available as a gasoline, diesel, electric, of compressed natural gas model.
"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," according to a release from the automaker.
The Golf SportWagen HyMotion uses hydrogen stored in four carbon fiber tanks in the underbody that enable a range of 310 miles. The tanks can be refilled in three minutes. The concept vehicle also has a lithium-ion battery that stores kinetic energy from regenerative braking and assists in starting the vehicle.
The fuel cell technology used in the Golf and Passat concept models is essentially the same technology used in the Audi A7 Sportback.