VW shows off new tech in T-Prime concept car

German automaker, Volkswagen (VW) has shown off an array of new vehicle technologies at the Beijing Auto Show in its T-Prime concept car.

The vehicle, also known by its full name – the T-Prime GTE – is an SUV crossover designed to showcase new technology by VW designed for this popular class of cars.

“Our team has created a charismatic and sporty all-round vehicle with this SUV, which appeals with its impressive sense of presence and confident poise,” commented Klaus Bischoff, head of design at Volkswagen.

Most notably the T-Prime features a plug-in hybrid electric drive chain, which can function in a number of different driving modes; including a full-electric ‘zero emissions’ mode, as well as VW’s ‘GTE’ hybrid petrol/electric mode.

On a full charge of the car’s batteries, it is reportedly able to travel up to 31 miles (50 km) before the petrol engine needs to kick in.

The engine itself is a 375 horsepower system able to accelerate to 60 mph (96.6 km/h) in 6 seconds, while in GTE mode and has a top speed of 139 mph (223.7 km/h).

Beyond the novel hybrid driving system, the concept car also features new innovations in dashboard display technology.

Within the T-Prime, all driver information as well as all car controls are contained within a single curved touchscreen display. Called the Active Info Display, this new way of presenting vehicle data is open to voice and gesture based interaction.

“This type of human-machine interface could become the norm in the top segment. Progress is immediately apparent here, because the real automobile is melding with the virtual world that is so real today,” said Dr Frank Welsch, member of the board of management for technical development at Volkswagen.

China a key market

Volkswagen is betting big on SUVs for both the US and also the Chinese market, where it predicts growth of 18% between 2017 and 2023 in this category of crossover SUVs.

The car itself is one of seven new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles announced by VW which it plans to bring to the Chinese market within the next 4 years, highlighting the important of the country to the company.

Nonetheless, there VW will face new competition from a new group of electric vehicle manufacturers planning to disrupt the auto industry with vehicle autonomy and new business models.