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The gasoline-electric Tiguan GTE concept highlights Volkswagen’s green future

The all-new 2017 Tiguan will unquestionably be the star of the Volkswagen booth at tomorrow’s Frankfurt Motor Show, but it won’t be the only new model on display. Notably, Volkswagen will show a thinly-veiled concept dubbed Tiguan GTE that previews an upcoming plug-in hybrid version of firm’s latest crossover.

Updated 09-15-2015 by Ronan Glon: Corrected an error regarding the driving range added by the roof-mounted solar panel.

While it looks like simply a dark blue Tiguan at first glance, the GTE concept is powered by a 214-horsepower gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain that consists of a 1.4-liter TSI engine and a compact electric motor. The two power sources zap the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission designed specifically for hybrid drivetrains.

Electricity is stored in a lithium-ion battery pack that can be topped up either while driving or by stopping at a charging station. An innovative solar panel on the roof allows the crossover to drive on electricity alone for an extra 621 miles annually in ideal weather conditions. Volkswagen stresses that 621 miles is only attainable in sunny places like southern Europe, and it predicts the huge solar panel only gives the Tiguan an extra 310 miles in its home country of Germany.

The concept offers four driving modes called E-Mode, Hybrid, Battery Charge and GTE, respectively. In E-Mode, the Tiguan is powered exclusively by the electric motor at speeds of up to 80 mph, though how long it can drive for hasn’t been announced yet. Hybrid alternates between the TSI engine and the electric motor as required, while Battery Charge does exactly what its name implies. Finally, the driver-focused GTE mode makes the throttle and the steering more responsive, and it tells the DSG gearbox to hold each gear for longer. As a result, the Tiguan can reach 62 mph from a stop in 8.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 124 mph.

Outside, the GTE stands out from the Tiguan thanks to minor details such as specific bumpers on both ends, C-shaped LED daytime running lights up front, and small GTE emblems on both fenders. The story is similar on the inside, where the updates are largely limited to GTE-specific instrument cluster with a power gauge, a new three-spoke steering wheel as well as blue accents on the seats and the shift lever.

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Volkswagen has not revealed what the future holds for the Tiguan GTE concept. However, it has previously announced its intention to sell more plug-in models all across the globe, so it’s not too far-fetched to imagine the Tiguan GTE will join the Volkswagen lineup as a regular-production model in the not-too-distant future. If built, the GTE will be the first regular-production plug-in hybrid crossover to wear a Volkswagen emblem.