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Early VW savings concepts: The Wolfsburg eco-activists

Beate Jeske
Early VW savings concepts
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T he visionary gifts of Markus Mörl were great underestimated in the early 1980s. Then he brought out the record (for younger readers: it was something like a CD, only bigger and black) “Kugelblitze und Raketen”. And as a single (no explanation for the youth, you can google that) his song “I want fun” went through the roof with the legendary line “And it costs three marks ten for gasoline too, it doesn't matter, it'll be okay”. Older people thought Markus was crazy with his squeaky voice, especially since he jumped so funny while singing. Younger people found him funny like almost every rider of the Neue Deutsche Welle. And even those who proclaimed the downfall of the West when the price of a liter of normal broke through the one mark mark for the first time in 1981 thought: It can't be that bad.

Long before Markus Mörl, people in Wolfsburg weren't so sure about things getting worse. The shock of the second oil crisis was too deep. So, under the direction of Head of Development Ernst Fiala, they set about bringing savings concepts into series production that could soften the bitter note of the actually sensual refueling process. With the 1981 model year, they launched the Formula E accessories package across all vehicle classes.

Passat Formula E marked the beginning

'Everyone knows that energy has to be saved . We at Volkswagen ... ”A brochure explains the sense of the Formula E package, which stands for 450 marks in the Passat price list, in a way that supports the state. As a result, the 75-hp sedan rose to 16,190 marks. The extra price, as auto motor und sport later calculates after meticulously logged comparison drives, has amortized after 37,500 kilometers, because the Formula E car consumes 9.7 percent less: 8.65 instead of 9.58 Liters normal.

Yes, the Passat Formula E is still satisfied with normal gasoline, which has since become extinct, because the compression ratio remained unchanged at a mild 8.2: 1 compared to the normal Passat. But otherwise it has everything on board: contactless ignition, front spoiler and rubber lip on the trunk lid (cW 0.36 instead of 0.38), low-friction oil in the veins and a four-plus-electric gearbox. Its fifth makes itself long over the four normal gears in the style of an overdrive, the top speed is reached in the fourth.

The consumption display withHowever, this does not clarify the recommendation to shift up via a light-emitting diode between the speedometer and the clock. Its thick pointer only moves after engaging the E gear. It is good for rolling and gently accelerating at a slightly higher city speed. If you are looking for more fire behind the large steering wheel, you will find it in the lower aisles. And then at the traffic light he presses a small button on the wiper lever. The engine is promptly silent, only to willingly pick itself up to idle with the clutch pedal depressed and a pinch of gas. Automatic start-stop system in 1981.

Golf Ecomatic achieved values ​​below four liters

This button is exactly what it is also in the Ecomatic model of the Golf III, which took the stage in 1993. An unfortunate hero, because the naturally economical and lively TDI is already in sight and will make the lethargic, turbocharged swirl chamber diesel with 64 cold-blooded hp look as old as it is. But the button can do a lot.

It also starts the engine if it has automatically switched off after a longer stop (the right gear and a little gas will of course do it too). But more important is: it activates the Ecomatic system, which sends the left foot into retirement with an automatic clutch.

When starting and switching, the Ecomatic doses the pneumatically generated frictional connection gently and precisely; in overrun mode, it automatically disengages, as is becoming more and more fashionable today. In addition, the system controlled by a control unit called Digi-Swing completely switches off the engine during this rolling phase. Now the Golf can use the momentum that has been laboriously developed without consuming idle.
Even today it uses momentum very elegantly when the engine is at a standstill. If you brake too often, the engine will start at some point and provide brake pressure, while the power steering is supplied by an electric pump if required. If freewheeling downhill is undesirable, all you need to do is press the Ecomatic button and the Golf will brake with the engine like any off-the-shelf diesel. The reward for the concentrated technology: the practical values ​​of less than four L /100 km and a standard consumption of 4.9 liters that were not tried so hard.

Lupo TDI 3L with consumption of just 2.7 liters

That is just under one liter below the maximum consumption , the auto motor und sport 1999 in the individual test of the VW Lupo 3L TDI determined. The little one is minimally satisfied, looking like a highly specialized, trapped in his own world Dr. Strange encountered, back then with 2.7 L /100 km, the test consumption is 3.9 liters of diesel.

Not bad for this spacious three and a half meter toddler that Ferdinand Piëch probably had in mind in 1991. At that time he was still in Audi service, accompanied by horror andThe competition shakes the head, the three in front of the decimal point as the consumption target for a completely safe four-seater suitable for everyday use.

The realization of this promise cost the VW boss quite a bit, including the nerves of many development engineers: chassis and body parts made of aluminum and even magnesium, which can also be found in the steering wheel and gearbox, thinner glass, seat frame made of light metal, forged aluminum wheels and much more reduced the weight compared to the normal Lupo by around 200 kilograms. In addition, there was optimized aerodynamics through reduced cooling air openings and lower side skirts, thin smooth-running tires with a substructure made of Kevlar and a three-cylinder pump-nozzle TDI. The automated five-speed gearbox with freewheel, but without engine shutdown in overrun mode as in the Golf Ecomatic, should also be mentioned. The little one is still usable today, accelerates audibly with a loud rasping force, but steering is not very easy without servo. A visionary who would have earned academic degrees as a person. At that time, the interruption of tractive power when upshifting and the shift jerking when slowly coasting were a problem. Today that appears in a milder light. After all, gearboxes like this still do. Incidentally, the little one was and is fast too. The Dreimarkzehn-Markus from 1982 in his 210 km /h Maserati could be glued to the rear at speedometer 200. At least downhill.

Volkswagen was not the first manufacturer to start developing and implementing eco concepts more than 30 years ago. But the consistency of efforts to reduce fuel consumption is impressive. What began cautiously with Formula E and was repeatedly driven forward by research vehicles, found its first high point in the Golf Ecomatic from 1993. With the naturally economical TDI, this concept would have matured to full bloom, but in view of the even higher prices it would probably wither due to a lack of customer interest. Viewed from today, the Golf Ecomatic looks very fascinating, the Passat Formula E makes a touching effort - and the very complex Lupo in no way historical, but on the contrary up to date.


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