The Volkwagen Group debuted four electrically propelled vehicles on the first day of previews at the Frankfurt motor show: the Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf, the Audi A3 e-tron and the Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid.
The two Volkswagen models are, quite simply, electrified versions of two of the company’s best-selling models. Each car features a lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the floor, which helps create a lower centre of gravity for improved handling, despite the added mass of the battery pack.
The e-Golf is scheduled to arrive in European showrooms next spring and in North America and Asia in 2015. The electron-propelled model will be visually distinguishable by its LED headlights and C-shaped LED running lights. It will also have a blue accent stripe on the grille – a contrast to the speedy Golf GTD’s grey and GTI’s red stripes.
The e-Golf’s 24.2-kilowatt-hour battery pack – slightly larger than that in the electric Nissan Leaf – propels the car between 90 and 118 miles on a charge, depending on temperature, driving conditions and speed. Because very low ambient temperatures sap battery performance, the e-Golf has a heat pump system that warms the battery pack in extremely cold weather, which boosts the car’s cold-weather range by about 20%, VW claims.
The car has an 85kW electric motor (roughly equivalent to 115 horsepower) that zips the e-Golf to 62mph from a standstill in 10.4 seconds – hardly tire-torching performance, but not far off the pace of its electric- or gasoline-powered competitors. Top speed, meanwhile, is electronically limited to 87mph.
It would take about 13 hours to recharge a fully depleted battery using 110v household current, but a direct-current quick-charging station along the lines of Tesla’s Supercharger can recharge 80% of the battery’s capacity in just 30 minutes – with the remaining 20% coming on line in the next half-hour.
The e-Up receives an 18.7kWh battery pack that can run the 60kW (82hp) electric motor for a distance of between 75 and 100 miles, depending on conditions. The car can accelerate to 62mph in 12.4 seconds – casual to be sure, but quicker than a gasoline-powered Up.
Far from any wall socket, VW also showed the Golf R in Frankfurt. The 296hp, all-wheel-drive über-Golf rockets to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds when equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Row-your-own holdouts may have more fun with the manual transmission, but they will lose a drag race to the DSG because the six-speed manual needs 5.3 seconds to reach 62mph.
The DSG has an edge in efficiency, too, with a 34mpg rating in combined driving on the European test cycle. The manual transmission, meanwhile, is good for 33mpg.
The car launches in Europe later this year, with a starting price of €38,325 (pricing for the US will be announced closer to the R’s sale date).