Although the newest iteration of the Golf, the Mk7, has just barely arrived among us, Volkswagen is hard at work developing the Mk8. The impetus? Stringent regulations from the European Union that expect CO2 emissions to be sharply curtailed by 2020. While undoubtedly good for the planet Earth and everyone on it, VW’s engineers have quite a job cut out for them. But they have a plan.
Faithful readers might remember one of our very first posts on this blog all the way back in December of last year. We wrote about Volkswagen’s XL1, an inspiring super-efficient piece of hardware with a gasoline engine that returns 261 mpg.
Although the EU’s regulations have to do with CO2, not how much gas you burn, the challenge for VW is essentially the same. We in Raleigh know well how foul car pollution can be, so let’s look at what the next generation of Golf might look like.
Volkswagen’s engineers want to use their new MQB platform for the Mk8 Golf, which means it has to have the same width and length. The styling of the XL1, however, could be applied for a much lower, squatted down profile, the better to allow air to pass over. The primary way the XL1 got to 261 mpg was an almost total rejection of metal in the body, so the Mk8 could see some introductions of new materials there.
The next idea could be using a flywheel. The above image is a prototype being developed by competitor Volvo. When drivers hit the brakes, that energy is captured and used to spin a wheel. The next time the driver accelerates, the flywheel will release energy instead of burning gas. By placing that wheel in vacuum, it can store power for up to 20 minutes before losing it.
It’s pretty radical stuff, basic science that will take a master class of engineers to pull off. But they say that necessity is the mother of invention, so we’ll see. Beyond that, VW has raised the possibility of electric turbocharging, better engine compression, and plain old coasting to save gas, but it’s all up in the air at this point.
In the meantime, the current Volkswagen Golf is ready and waiting for you to drive it right here in Raleigh, so stop by and live a little.