What Is It?
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is an all-electric version of the Golf, the popular hatchback that's now in its seventh generation. Volkswagen could have built a tailor-made car (the 2014 BMW i3, for example) with its own design that incorporates the particular requirements of an EV, but the automaker decided to take a known, well-respected quantity and electrify it instead. This is the first electric vehicle from Volkswagen to go on sale in the United States.
Pricing won't be announced until nearer launch time, but mid-$30,000 wouldn't be a bad guess.
When Can You Get It?
This model will be available fall 2014 in selected states.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because...
A respectable 199 lb-ft of torque means the e-Golf should have enough muscle to be a pleasing drive.
Another positive element is VW's special e-Golf roadside assistance plan to alleviate the so-called range anxiety that might afflict potential drivers. If a user runs out of battery power within 100 miles of home, VW will take the car to a nearby charger and even pay for a taxi if need be. What's more, there's no limit on how many times they will perform that service.
In common with many new vehicles, the e-Golf has some smart safety features. Recognizing that some accidents involve more than one collision, VW includes a post-collision braking system. If someone runs into the back of an e-Golf, the braking system can stop it from running into the car in front. The car also has a low-speed sound system to help pedestrians and other road users become aware of its presence.
The lithium-ion battery pack supplies and demands what have become the standard range and charging parameters: around 80 miles of real-world driving, or four hours when using a 220-volt charger. If an ordinary domestic 115/120-volt socket is the only option, it'll take about 20 hours for a total recharge. However, there is a function where, by hooking up to a DC fast-charging station, the e-Golf can take on 80 percent of its battery power in 30 minutes.
Naturally, there's a smartphone app (iOS and Android) that offers control over when to flip the charge switch and setting the cabin's temperature remotely while the car is still connected to the grid. Plus, there's a bundle of essential EV information.
Cosmetically, the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf stands apart from the rest of the range, thanks to a blue stripe that runs across the nose, special-design alloy wheels and a dedicated aerodynamic package that increases the car's efficiency. The headlights are also all-LED; light-emitting diodes require less energy than conventional bulbs. Every little bit helps.
Don't forget there are state and federal credits for buying an electric vehicle.
Other Cars to Consider
2014 BMW i3 -- The i3 was designed from a clean sheet of paper (or a clear computer screen, at least) to accommodate the special demands an electric vehicle dictates, such as weight and battery placement.
2014 Chevrolet Volt -- It's not all-electric, but the Volt is of a similar size and prospect for saving at the pump.
2014 Ford Focus Electric -- The Focus Electric is another car that follows the same formula of a popular family runabout turned into an all-electric vehicle.
2014 Nissan Leaf -- The Leaf was one of the first all-electric compact hatchbacks. It's a worldwide best-seller in this limited field.