While on the west coast for the Volkswagen press tour, I had the chance to drive the company's new electric Golf. The E-Golf is scheduled to be available as part of the 2014 Volkswagen line. At present, there is a pilot fleet of about 20 of these cars that are being driven by VW employees as part of a study examining things such as usage and vehicle charging before the vehicle is ready for general release. The test fleet, including the vehicle that I drove, was built using the 6th generation Golf body, but the production version will use the 7th generation Golf as vehicle platform.
My test drive of the E-Golf was only a couple of miles, since there were a couple dozen journalists who wanted to have a chance for a drive, so it needed to be constrained, but I still got a taste of driving this car similar to many of the other EVs I've driven. I've had the opportunity to drive a number of electric vehicles, though many of those experiences have been on the small, indoor driving track that has been available at the NAIAS in Detroit, and I've been a passenger in a few other demonstration EVs that weren't available for general driving.
The E-Golf has an interesting regenerative braking system that is more interactive - and more like driving a car with a manual transmission - than usual with other EVs I've encountered, which tend to behave like a car with an automatic transmission. When coasting, the E-Golf will begin to regeneratively recharge the batteries. However, the driver can use a pair of paddle switches on the steering wheel to increase the level of regenerative braking the car provides, recapturing progressively more energy back to the batteries and slowing the car more quickly with each step. This would take some getting used to before one became proficient with it, but it brings back a level of engagement to the driving experience that most EVs don't have.
The E-Golf has a 26.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery and an estimated range of 93 miles. For the test fleet, VW is also providing an iPhone with special app to enable the owner to "check the battery’s charging status, regulate the car’s internal temperature, gauge how much charging time is left, or even remotely start the charging procedure."
More about the sound made by the E-Golf will be coming shortly.
[Ed. Note: Volkswagen paid for the travel and lodging for my trip to SF where I gathered some of the information for this story.]
image credits: EcoGeek
written by Mark Thomason, April 03, 2012
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