• Electric Golf to debut in 2014
  • May be called "E-Golf"
  • Rivals to include Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric

After much speculation, Volkswagen has confirmed it will launch a VW Golf Electric in 2014. Expected to be named the E-Golf, the plug-in hatchback will feature a fully electric motor -- with no range-extending gas engine -- when it goes on sale next summer.

While Volkswagen has been light on E-Golf specifics, the brand has speculated the hatchback will get around 170 miles between charges. That would place it far ahead of rivals like the Nissan Leaf, which can travel around 75 miles on a charge. Of course, it would still lag behind the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, which uses a range-extending gas engine in addition to its electric motor.

According to Volkswagen, the E-Golf's electric motor will be mounted in its engine bay, just as a gasoline engine would. Batteries will be located below the hatchback's rear seats and under its trunk floor, adding more than 400 pounds to the hatchback's curb weight.

Volkswagen has not announced pricing or planned sales volume for the electric Golf, but the automaker did say it will start with a limited rollout. That could mean it will first go on sale in only a few major cities, much like the arrival of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Volkswagen will also offer the E-Golf in Europe.

While an increasing number of brands have been using electric power, VW has been slow to turn to the technology. Instead, Volkswagen has been a major proponent of diesel power. Today, a wide variety of the brand's models are offered with diesel engines. But VW sells just two hybrids, both in limited numbers: the new Jetta Hybrid, and the Touareg Hybrid SUV.

Despite its small hybrid and electric volume, VW sees a future for the technology. The brand says that by 2018, about three percent of its U.S. sales will be hybrid and electric vehicles -- a figure that translates into roughly 25,000 sales.

What it means to you: Shoppers looking for an electric car will soon have a new model to add to the rapidly expanding market.

What do you think of the new Volkswagen E-Golf? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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