VW touts cleverer diesel engines, better tech

Paraffinic fuel compatibility announced alongside much-needed infotainment upgrade

By John Howell / Friday, December 17, 2021 / Loading comments

Volkswagen has delivered not one but two good news stories this week. The first aims to alleviate climate change, by introducing diesel engines that can run on green fuels; the second will help Golf drivers change their own climate more easily, with a major update to the infotainment system.

Volkswagen has been rolling out its fleet of new battery-electric vehicles in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint by 40 per cent in Europe by 2030. But to minimise the carbon legacy of the diesel cars it will deliver between now and then, it has made all its four-cylinder TDI engines able to run on paraffinic fuels. This modification applies to vehicles delivered from the end of June this year.

Prof. Thomas Garbe, Volkswagen’s Head of Petrol and Diesel Fuels said: “Through the use of environmentally friendly fuels in the approved Volkswagen models, we are making it possible for customers throughout Europe to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions as soon as the fuel is locally available. For example, the use of paraffinic fuels is a sensible additional option particularly for companies with a mixed fleet made up of models with electric and conventional drives.”

Paraffinic fuels that meet European standard EN 15940 aren’t blended with any regular diesel. They are made with the Fischer Tropsch process from natural gas (GTL), biomass (BTL) or through the hydrotreatment process of vegetable oils or animal fats (HVO). They have next to no sulphur and aromatics, and can lower CO2 emissions by up to 95 per cent compared with conventional diesel.

True enough, EN 15940-compliant fuels aren’t actually widely available at the moment, but they are out there and include C.A.R.E diesel, NEXTBTL and HVO. It’s more common to see a mix of paraffinic and regular diesel, such as Diesel R33, V-Power Diesel, OMV MaxMotion and Aral Ultimate Diesel. Volkswagen has said these mixed fuels can be used in all its diesel engines, even the older ones.

The second piece of good news is that help is finally coming for those experiencing problems with the latest Volkswagen infotainment system. You almost certainly will be, because the MIB3 system is, relatively speaking, a shocker. Company insiders we’ve talked to have said many of its problems relate to the poor integration between its outside software developers and the inhouse team at Volkswagen. The issues have been manifest and delayed the launch of the ID.3; even now the software is unresponsiveness and full of bugs.

The latest Golf is the first to come with the infotainment upgrade, which is both hardware and software. There is a more powerful System on Chip (SoC) central processor that trebles the graphics performance and adds 25 per cent more computing capacity. The software improvements are said to make the infotainment more stable and useable when using the touchscreen, although the gesture control and natural voice control have been enhanced, too. You can use the former from farther away now, and the voice control has a new digital microphone, which it’s claimed can distinguish between the driver and passenger – so when asked to alter the interior temperature, it knows which side to adjust. Volkswagen also says its comprehension rate is up to 95 per cent.

Although the changes are currently for the Golf, it seems logical that they will be extended to the ID.3 and ID.4. And Volkswagen has said it plans to roll out the new software to existing Golf models in the coming months.


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