Photo by Vince Taroc.
Volkswagen may dominate the diesel passenger car market, but the e-Golf, the automaker’s first fully electric vehicle, could help establish an equally strong and deserved foothold in the electric vehicle market.
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf drives and handles exactly like its gasoline and diesel cousins — meaning smoothly and efficiently with the kind of get up and go that modern drivers expect and the handling and solidness that fleets need.
Being a battery-electric vehicle, I had the sort of trepidations that the typical gasoline car user has when climbing behind an electric-powered wheel with my heart skipping a beat every time a mile of range was used up. But, with a top range of nearly 100 miles (according to the onboard range meter while in Eco mode), my heart soon started beating again. I really had fun with the e-Golf driving at maximum highway speeds and keeping up with gasoline vehicles with little trouble.
The e-Golf is equipped with a synchronous AC permanent magnet electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. The engine produces 115 hp and 199 lb.-ft. of torque in normal mode. The EPA has estimated a real-world range of 83 miles, which is more than enough for most typical commutes.
Photo by Vince Taroc.
I kept the e-Golf in Eco mode, which helped extend the range slightly without compromising performance — including the ability to use the radio and navigation system simultaneously without any obvious drain on the battery. When I turned the vehicle over to my colleagues to test, the range indicator was at about the point I expected.
For those where range or infrastructure anxiety isn’t an issue, the EV compact defaults to normal mode. A flick of a switch allows the driver to change to Eco mode, which decreases output 94 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque — more than enough power in normal commuting. The Eco+ mode further conserves energy by dropping output to 74 hp and 129 lb.-ft. of torque and limiting the top speed to 56 mph.
To help conserve power, the e-Golf's regenerative braking can be set at three driver-selectable levels — D1, D2, and D3/B. The standard D mode offers no regenerative braking. The D1 level recaptures a small amount of energy, with D2 and D3/B offering increasing levels of energy regeneration, according to the automaker.
Charging can be accomplished by either a standard 110/120-volt electrical socket, a 240-volt wall box, or via a DC fast charger.
For a fleet that wants to put its best green foot forward, the e-Golf would be a good option, since it delivers both as a sustainable vehicle, but a functional one as well. The trunk space is 22.8 cubic feet with the seats up and 52.7 cubic feet with the seats down, more than enough to carry meeting or sales materials. The 83-mile range would be more than enough for fleets that use the e-Golf either as a ride-share vehicle or as a vehicle for an urban sales force.