Volkswagen has joined the party. By this fall, the German automaker will bring its first all-electric vehicle to the U.S., a battery-powered version of the venerable Golf, the hatchback that has sold more than 30 million vehicles globally over six generations.
Dubbed the e-Golf, this model uses the same platform and body as gas- and diesel-powered Golfs, which have all been redesigned for the 2015 model year.
According to the LA Times, the electric effort is overdue. Nearly every other U.S. automaker (Honda, Toyota, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz) offers a zero-emission vehicle in California. This is to meet a mandate by the California Air Resources Board requiring that each brand either sell such a vehicle or buy credits from automakers that do.
The e-Golf gives up no interior space for people or cargo because the 700-pound lithium-ion battery pack is built into the floor and the tunnel between the passengers.
Weighing only 60 pounds more than the gas version, the e-Golf has the same nimble handling on the road, just without any engine noise or vibration.
An electric motor pumps out 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque, with this silent power coming on smooth and strong from a dead stop. Though it doesn't have the kick of the Fiat 500e, the e-Golf is quick enough. VW said it will do a zero-to-60 mph run in about 10 seconds.
The e-Golf reportedly has more power and less weight than the Nissan Leaf, its chief competitor.
Official EPA range figures won't be in until September. For now, VW estimates 70 to 90 miles of "real world range" on a full charge and a 115-mile maximum. That's on par with the Leaf's 84-mile EPA-estimated range.
VW hasn't yet announced pricing for the e-Golf, but a loaded version with leather seats and navigation probably will sell for around $35,000, before state and federal tax incentives that could knock off as much as $10,000. If that seems close to what a loaded Nissan Leaf sells for, that's no accident, says Times reporter David Undercoffler.