Pictured: Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport Concept

Volkswagen has shifted its focus to electric vehicles. Now the automaker plans to use one of its most beloved performance nameplates, the GTI, to lead the charge with EVs. But the rumor is that they’ll start with a hybrid first.

Volkswagen is already working on the next generation Mark VIII Golf due out sometime in the year 2020, according to Autocar. They cite a source close to Volkswagen who indicated that the next Golf will use a mild hybrid setup by adopting an advanced 48-volt electrical system and integrated starter motor.

The obvious use of this is to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions, but it can also have a performance application.

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Autocar speculates that the next GTI will shift from a traditional turbocharger, driven by the exhaust gas, to an electrically driven compressor that has the potential to deliver a lot more low range torque. In addition to the possible use of an electric turbo, the upgraded 48 V starter motor system could also provide an overboost function.

Volkswagen has said that the Mark VIII GTIs power output would match or exceed the 261 horsepower from the GTI Clubsport. While this would be easily achievable with just the gas powered 2.0-liter turbo unit currently in use, the utilization of electric motors will allow the brand to increase both power and efficiency.

It also seems that a GTI with supplemental electric motors would be a transition into a fully-fledged compact EV line. AutoExpress spoke with Volkswagen’s sales and marketing boss Jürgen Stackmann, who suggested that the GTI nameplate will have to evolve and adapt to a future with electric cars and that an EV GTI could be part of VW’s I.D. electric lineup.

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I think the formula of GTI will change – it will not be the same formula that took us here. But to have an exhilarating, fun to own, fun to drive car, with electric cars it is possible to deliver that...Technology is clearly set to be able to do that – it is actually quite easy to do, with four-wheel drive if you want to.

Of course, with electrification on the horizon, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that future GTIs will not have a three-pedal option. While an EV GTI may sound like sacrilege, it’s actually a genius idea on the part of Volkswagen especially when you consider the history of the GTI.

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The Mark I GTI while not technically the first “hot hatch” made the segment popular to the masses. Volkswagen took the lightweight, fuel-efficient, and affordable Golf and turned it into a practical, everyday sport compact. Like it or not EVs are coming, it’s good to know that the fun to drive philosophy of the GTI will be applied to electric cars.