Today Volkswagen announced its first U.S.-market all-electric car will start at $36,265 including $820 destination when it goes on sale in November.
The e-Golf SEL Premium is being positoned as a “fully equipped” competitor to Nissan’s Leaf albeit sold in selected U.S. markets for now. Volkswagen hasn’t published the specific states, but company spokesman Mark Gillies said today it will be the states that follow California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle rules with an eye for market expansion in time.
We’ve seen early reports stating range at 115 miles positioning it as the highest next to a Tesla Model S, but Volkswagen says the car is capable of 70-90 miles “depending on driving style and charging behavior.” Gillies said he has under normal driving seen 105 miles himself, but VW is stating 70-90. Otherwise EPA data including MPGe is not yet ready for publishing, he said.
Power to the front-wheel-drive compact built on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform is from a 115-horsepower, 199 pounds-feet electric motor and routed via 1-speed transmission. Top speed is 87 mph and three energy usage modes are Normal, Eco, and Eco+.
Battery pack size at 24.2 kwh is very close to the Leaf’s 24 kwh. It’s built in-house at VW’s Braunschweig facility and includes a 7.2-kw onboard charger as standard.
It’s also equipped to handle DC quick charging by way of a “Combined Charging System” (CCS) that puts 80-percent charge back in under 30 minutes.
The battery, like the Leaf’s, is not liquid cooled. When asked whether VW was setting itself up for issues as Nissan had experienced a couple years ago, Gillies said the li-ion battery is engineered to be gently charged and discharged, and sent a statement from the comapny’s German engineers.
To keep operating temperatures at ideal levels, VW has developed a Battery Management Unit with intelligent thermal control that allows the pack to remain within an optimal temperature range, helping to maintain performance and range in a variety of temperatures. This innovative system allows the e-Golf to operate in its intended manner, even in more extreme temperatures, without the need of a cooling system.
With a primary focus on efficiency rather than charge-time or capacity (like some of our competitors), VW was able to design a battery pack and utilize battery chemistry for the lithium ion cells (provided by Panasonic), that make the e-Golf one of the most efficient EVs on the market. As the battery system is so efficient, minimal waste heat is created during operation (i.e. during fast charging), which is quickly directed by the battery metal structure into the chassis, away from the battery, preventing extreme temperature conditions inside the pack. The lithium-ion cells being used, referred to as “marathon cells” by our engineers, are designed for gentle charge and de-charge thereby reducing heat and excessive energy consumption often associated with cells designed for rapid charging and de-charging. The elimination of the cooling system also allows VW to keep the weight of the battery pack down, which aides in overall efficiency of the vehicle.
The set up employed for the e-Golf has passed various long-term engineering evaluation milestones in desert temperatures and cold weather climates without the necessity of a cooling system.
Interior volume is close to the Leaf also. VW says the e-Golf will match the regular Golf line with 93.5 cubic feet of total interior volume. The Leaf has 92.4 cubic feet. Cargo volume for the e-Golf is listed at 22.8 cubic feet. Leaf has 23.6 cubic feet.
The entry level Leaf S also starts at a lower price point in the $30,000 range. The Golf is relatively better equipped and positioned above this, and a closer match for the upper level Leaf’s.
Gillies said he has already been explicitly asked whether the e-Golf is a compliance car, and he said it’s really not. Volkswagen has designed the e-golf on a global platform as a global seller. For now, it is selling where compliance cars are selling, but the plan is not to stay only there forever.
Volkswagen is taking a wait and see approach, and did not state a specific roll-out plan beyond ZEV states, but that it is preparing for more growth in the electrification of the automobile is more certain. The e-Golf is the first, and assuming market acceptance, it’s implied the vehicle will eventually be made more widely available in the U.S. Gillies said also VW will in time offer more than just the fully packed version as now being launched.
He also emphasized the driving experience and utility will compare favorably with a regular Golf.
Upper level features standard with the e-Golf include:
• Three driver-selectable regenerative braking levels
• 5.8-inch touchscreen navigation system and infotainment center
• Bluetooth® technology
• SiriusXM® Satellite Radio
• Automatic Post-Collision Braking system
• Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel
• Dual-zone automatic climate control
• LED headlights
• Bespoke 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
• Keyless access
• Heatable front seats
• Rearview camera; and front and rear Park Distance Control
Volkswagen has also announced a “holistic” approach to offset carbon emissions in an effort to let e-Golf claim carbon neutrality.