|A glimpse under the hood of an E-Golf prototype at the power electronics. Traction motor is partially seen at bottom. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen intends to bring the production version of the battery-electric E-Golf to market in the US in 2014 (first market introduction will be in 2013). The production version of the E-Golf will be based on a new MQB platform (the “A7” Golf), rather than the current version (“A6” Golf) used for the prototypes currently in fleet testing, according to Mark Gillies, Volkswagen Group of America’s Manager, Product & Technology (and former executive editor of Car and Driver).
One of the differences will likely be in the layout of the battery pack, said Gillies. In the current prototype model, the 26.5 kWh Li-ion battery pack (180 cells, 30 modules) runs down the center tunnel, beneath the rear bench seat and into the floor of the trunkspace.
The E-Golf looks just like a current four-door Golf, with seating for five people. It is driven by an 85 kW (peak) electric motor that delivers 270 N·m (199 lb-ft) of torque. The E-Golf has an estimated driving range of 93 miles (150 km); however, the specific range will depend on driving style and factors such as the use of air conditioning and heating.
|Portion of the new US E-Golf test fleet at Volkswagen ERL. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen of America will begin a pilot scheme to test 20 prototype E-Golf Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) over a nine-month period in select locations in the US. Twelve of these vehicles will be allocated to selected Volkswagen employees during the time period. (Earlier post.)
As with other OEM fleet tests of BEV prototypes, Volkswagen will use its testing to fine-tune the feature set and content of the vehicle, as well as gain a better understanding of driver behavior and ways to optimize range in the car (e.g., when to use the conventional heated air windshield defroster versus a lower power consumption electric front windshield heater).
At a recent full-line drive and technology event held in Half Moon Bay, California (close to the Volkswagen Electronics Research Laboratory (ERL) in Belmont, CA, where some of the e-mobility work is being done) Volkswagen had one of the E-Golf prototypes available for very short drives. (With no charger available at the site, and the need to drive the E-Golf back to ERL, media access was of necessity limited.)
Like some other BEVs, the E-Golf offers the ability to select via the shifter an aggressive brake regeneration mode. Unlike others, Volkswagen has also implemented paddle shifters on the steering wheel that allow the driver to click through three different settings for regen—the third being the most aggressive and equivalent to the “B” regen setting via the shifter. Extremely aggressive regen can be jarring to some drivers; the paddle shifter access to these three levels allows the driver to adapt easily to more subtle terrain changes (e.g., a dip in the road rather than a steep downhill), and seems to be an excellent enhancement to overall usability.