DETROIT -- It'd be easy to walk right past the Passat BlueMotion concept that's tucked into a corner of Volkswagen's booth at the 2014 Detroit auto show. The blue sedan doesn't look particularly special or futuristic, but that's because all of the conceptual bits are hidden under the hood.
The BlueMotion concept has an estimated highway fuel economy rating of 42 mpg, but its not a hybrid and it's not a diesel. VW states, "The Passat BlueMotion Concept is being presented (to show) just how fuel-efficient a non-hybrid, gasoline-engined mid-size sedan can be."
Under the hood, you'll find an efficient 1.4-liter EA211 TSI engine. This, according to the automaker, is the world's first inline four-cylinder with cylinder deactivation technology. In situations where drivers only need partial power, such as when applying light pedal pressure to cruise at city speeds, the Active Cylinder Management technology can drop down to three- or even two-cylinder operation, saving fuel in the process.
The 1.4-liter is also equipped with a stop-start system that shuts the engine down when the vehicle is stopped to prevent wasting fuel to idling. When the driver lifts their foot from the brake pedal, the engine springs to life again.
The BlueMotion concept is based on the standard Passat, so the full-sized sedan offers ample space for people and cargo. We're curious about what the performance would be like with four passengers onboard.
The question that remains is will the North American large sedan market -- for which this generation of Passat was specifically developed -- support such a low-power, high-efficiency model? Maybe in Europe, but probably not in the States.
Gasoline engines will be with us for a bit longer, yet. So for drivers looking for the thriftiest way to get from point A to point B, but who aren't ready to make the jump to a hybrid or diesel, vehicles like the Passat BlueMotion concept should be of particular interest.
The technologies in operation under this concept's hood are already active on the road in smaller European production vehicles bearing the BlueMotion badge. It wouldn't be too hard for Volkswagen to produce and market this thrifty set of wheels.