Volkswagen has announced partnerships with two manufacturers of biodiesel fuel as part of their ongoing work in developing diesel automobiles. The two companies are each receiving two VW diesel automobiles: a Passat TDI and a Jetta TDI, and they will each study how their fuels perform in these vehicles. The two companies, Amyris and Solazyme, will share the results of their research with VW over the 12-month period to help VW to "develop more efficient, cleaner burning diesel powertrains for future products."
Both companies are making biodiesel fuel with renewable materials as feedstock, instead of using petroleum. But the two companies are using different approaches to making fuel. Amyris uses a fermentation process to produce fuels from plant-sourced sugar feedstock. Solazyme uses an algae-based process, which also requires plant sugar feedstock, to produce its fuel. We've had both of these companies on our radar for the past few years, and they are both survivors in a startup industry that has seen a number of other players fall by the wayside.
Volkswagen is already a significant presence in the diesel portion of the passenger fleet in the United States. Although VW represents only about 2.5% of the US market, over 20% of that is with diesel automobiles.
[Ed. Note: Volkswagen paid for the travel and lodging for my trip to SF where I gathered some of the information for this story.]