2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: 20,000 Miles and All Is Well
May 14, 2014
It happened on Interstate 15 on the first of two Las Vegas diesel fuel economy runs. Our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI was barely 5 miles inside California and drawing abreast of the Ivanpah Solar Power facility.
This trio of power towers stands within easy sight of the Interstate. The three arrays of heliostat mirrors that encircle them consume a combined 5.5 square miles of desert. A weird and eerie plasmatic glow hovers in the air several yards removed from the impossibly bright surface of the receivers that top each tower. In the bright desert daylight it's still quite easy to make out the rays of light that converge on the receivers.
I'd hate to be a bird flying through there.
But I'm sitting in a diesel-powered sedan that can easily generate over 40 mpg on such a freeway trip. I'm seeing 50 mpg on the meter for the time being, and I'm going with the flow of traffic, which seems to be in a hurry. I don't expect it to last because of some city driving in my near future, and such meters tend to read high anyway, but still.
Our overall fuel economy average to this point is 36.9 mpg, which handily beats the Passat TDI's EPA combined rating of 34 mpg.
This, of course, has little to do with the three Ivanpah power towers, whose designed annual output is roughly equivalent to the yearly needs of 200,000 Tesla Model S sedans, if that many existed.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 20,000 miles