Volkswagen recently announced details of the 2015 VW e-Golf electric car, that’s slated to go on sale in the U.S. in the 4th quarter of 2014. Going by the press release it should be an excellent electric car, and will finally justify VW’s role in helping the SAE delay the CHAdeMO fast charging system – the e-Golf will come by default with a Combo Charging System fast charging port.
First – this is a VW Golf, as the picture shows. The Golf is a very popular car, and VW has sold over 30 million of them.
VW says they found some nooks-and-crannies below the seats and in the center tunnel for the battery pack. This makes me think VW made very few modifications to the standard Golf chassis, fitting electric drive train components wherever they could. It is built on the Golf A7 platform which was introduced in 2013.
According to the Wikipedia page, the e-Golf went on sale in Europe in February 2014. It’s going on sale in the U.S. in selected markets in Q4 2014.
It’s powered by a 115 horsepower electric motor, offering 199 ft-lb of torque, a 0-60 miles/hr time of 10 seconds, and an electronically limited 87 miles/hr top speed.
According to VW the driving range is between 70 and 90 miles, with a maximum range of 115 miles. This is not an EPA certified rating, and VW may be blowing hot air. The numbers do correlate with the NEDC range figures quoted by Wikipedia, but it’s widely known the EPA certified rating is much more conservative than the NEDC rating.
The battery pack is 24.2 kilowatt-hours, so in theory the driving range should be similar to the Nissan Leaf. But VW could have done a better job at overall efficiency and therefore get better range than the Leaf. The e-Golf does have an impressive coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.28.
It does have a range of driving modes that could help with efficiency.
The “Eco” driving mode limits motor power to 94 horsepower, torque to 162 ft-lbs, it turns down the air conditioning system, and modifies the throttle response curve. In “Eco+” mode the power is limited further, to 74 horsepower, 129 ft-lbs of torque, the air conditioner is turned completely off, and the throttle response curve is even further flattened. All those moves will decrease power consumption, letting you get more range with the car, at the expense of slower acceleration.
There are also three levels of regenerative braking, and in two of those modes the braking effect is so strong it even turns on the brake lights. I haven’t driven the e-Golf, of course, but this sort of regenerative braking would create that “one pedal driving” experience some EV’s have offered. That is, you’ll be able to simply lift your foot off the accelerator pedal and the car should come to a near-stop just off regenerative braking.
The charging system runs at 7.2 kilowatts maximum, giving a sub-four-hour recharging time at a level 2 charging station. It comes standard with the Combo Charging System port, and can run that at a 40 kilowatt charging rate for an 80% recharge in about 30 minutes.
VW’s take on range anxiety is to offer e-Golf owners a free ride home should they be silly enough to run their battery dry. That is – it’s well understood that EV owners quickly learn how to manage state of charge and where are the charging stations. Typically it’ll be rare for an EV owner to run their car to empty. If this should happen, within 100 miles of home, VW’s Roadside Assistance program will give the driver a free tow to a charging station, and perhaps a free taxi ride.
Pricing has not been announced, nor has it been said where the “selected markets” in the U.S. will be. Will the e-Golf be yet another compliance car, sold only in small amounts in California? German pricing starts at €34,900 (~US$47,800).
VW has said, however, that by 2018 they will be “the world leader in e-mobility among automakers by 2018.” To do so they’d have to supplant the existing leadership positions of Nissan and Tesla Motors. Both have a strong head start on the whole of the rest of the automobile industry in delivering electric cars. By 2018, Nissan will be on the second generation of the Leaf, and Tesla should begin selling their 3rd generation mass produced affordable electric car. VW is just now beginning to sell electric cars.
By what measure will they be “the world leader” remains to be seen, or whether that’s just an empty boast. In any case if the e-Golf lives up to the press release it is an impressive start to VW’s electric career.
Now, if VW would just bring back the Karmann Ghia as an electric car.
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