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Volkswagen launching E-Golf BEV test fleet in the US; partnering with Solazyme and Amyris on renewable diesel fuels

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.

Separately, the company announced partnerships with Solazyme and Amyris to evaluate emissions reductions and demonstrate the performance of TDI Clean Diesel technology when powered by advanced biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels.

E-Golf test. By studying E-Golf use across multiple geographical regions, Volkswagen will monitor the effect of climate conditions, driving patterns, and energy performance; the data and insights gained during the scheme will be used in the final development of future EV technology applications.

The E-Golf pilot program will take place in the Detroit Metro, San Francisco, and Washington DC markets, beginning in April.

In addition to testing the vehicle itself, users will also test specific services designed for the E-Golf. For example, 220-volt charging stations will be installed at the employees’ homes to charge the vehicles. Each E-Golf will be delivered with an iPhone and a dedicated app, allowing the user 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.

Volkswagen has set up a web portal dedicated to the fleet test to support the users 24/7 in case of specific questions and in order to allow users to share their feedback on the E-Golf.

During this test we will examine in detail all the technical and administrative aspects of typical consumers using electric vehicles on an everyday basis. For a successful market launch of electric vehicles, the way that home chargers are handled is very important, along with easy access to public charging infrastructure. For the US, we also have to recognize the specific legal regulations as well as the different characteristics of the electricity supply: both the reduced 110-volt mains supply and the type of charging plugs.

—Dr. Rudolf Krebs, Executive Vice president and Head of Volkswagen Group E-Traction

The E-Golf looks just like a four-door Golf, with seating for five people. It is driven by an electric motor that delivers 199 lb-ft (270 N·m) of torque. The Li-ion battery pack comprises 180 cells, and has an energy capacity of 26.5 kWh. 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.

The vehicle has a number of features that help ensure energy is preserved while driving: the vehicle can coast whenever the driver releases the accelerator pedal; there are three driving modes; and there are three settings for regenerative braking, where kinetic energy is recaptured into the battery. Charging is accomplished via a plug connector behind the gas cap on the right rear fender.

Solazyme and Amyris. Under the respective agreements, Volkswagen will provide both companies with two products each—the new 2012 Passat TDI and 2012 Jetta TDI—in order to closely examine the effects that the fuels produced by Amyris and Solazyme will have on Volkswagen clean diesel technology and the environment.

(Amyris uses its industrial synthetic biology platform to convert plant-sourced sugars into renewable hydrocarbons for fuel and chemical applications; Solazyme has developed a technology that harnesses the oil-producing ability of microalgae to develop renewable oil products.)

The 12-month evaluation period will equip Volkswagen engineers with valuable data that will aid in the ongoing enhancement of TDI Clean Diesel technology and help the brand to develop more efficient, cleaner burning diesel powertrains for future products.

Partnering with two leaders in advanced biofuel technology supports Volkswagen's goal of offering a competitive suite of technologies that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve fuel efficiency and fit the diverse needs of our customers. In order to achieve our long-term desire of bringing CO2-neutral mobility to the market, advanced gasoline and diesel engines—like TDI Clean Diesel technology—must play a major role; and renewable energies to power these advanced powertrains are needed on a large scale.

—Prof. Dr. Jurgen Leohold, Head of Volkswagen Group Research

During the year-long evaluation, Volkswagen will measure the environmental impacts from the use of cleaner burning renewable diesel formulas. Initial analysis indicates that while advanced biofuels are comparable to standard diesel blends in terms of performance, there are tremendous opportunities to reduce vehicle emissions.

The announcement comes on the heels of an impressive year for Volkswagen TDI® products in the United States where high-mileage, clean

Diesel TDI models accounted for 21.6% of Volkswagen sales in the US in 2011, a significant increase over recent years. In February 2012, sales of diesel products were up more than 54% over the prior month. The 2013 Beetle TDI will become the sixth clean diesel model available in the brand’s US lineup.



Plug in on rear fender? FAIL! That means you trip over it every day. Plugs should be front, preferably center (like Nissan Leaf) 2nd best location front right (like Volt).
Just because you already have a gas cap there, doesn't mean it's the best place to put the plug-in.

Peace Hugger

VW needs to prove that this model is not an E-Golf cart.


I don't care where the plug goes, as long as it has an auto-eject and retractor so I don't have to disconnect it manually.

Peace Hugger

Better hope that you don't get a fender bender.


Such intelligent responses, we have risen to a new level.

Maybe diesel PHEVs running on renewable fuel would be closer to Sustainable Mobility.


Yet another test fleet - but at least this one will finally address the specific legal regulations as well as the different characteristics of the electricity supply: both the reduced 110-volt mains supply and the type of charging plugs.

Bob Wallace

Toppa - I don't understand your comment.

Is VW using a plug different from the industry standard SAE J1772?

How will 20 EVs test the ability of the grid? We already know, mathematically, that the existing US grid could charge around 180 million EVs. Twenty cars won't confirm nor disprove that calculation.

And I see no test of the US legal system.

Did you misread the article?

Bob Wallace

"I don't care where the plug goes, as long as it has an auto-eject and retractor so I don't have to disconnect it manually."

The first Model Ts had neither electric starters nor fuel pumps. We'll get hands-free EVs, most likely.

Perhaps we'll use inductive charging and the car will self-park over the 'outlet'. When charging is done, just drive away.

Or, in the case of Lev3 chargers, we'll do the hookup automatically.

You park in the designated spot, an access door on your EV opens, the charger arm extends and plugs itself into your car. Charging finished - the system reverses itself.

And just like today's EVs that won't let you drive off with the cord attached, your car won't be able to move until the connector is retracted.

Or perhaps some clever person will invent an even better system....

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