Volkswagen’s first electric vehicle in the U.S. will be the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf that makes its North American debut at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show next week. This EV was originally released for European buyers at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, and now Volkswagen has confirmed that the e-Golf will go on sale in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf is based on the redesigned seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf that has yet to go on sale in the U.S. Volkswagen says that this Golf’s modular MQB architecture was designed from the outset to accommodate alternative powertrains like an electric motor and batteries, so the lithium-ion battery pack is integrated into a frame in the floor of the vehicle. This 24.2-kilowatt hour battery pack supplies juice to a 115-horsepower electric motor that gets the e-Golf from 0-60 mph in an estimated 10.4 seconds.
Volkswagen is estimating the range of the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf at between 70 and 90 miles per charge, matching up with EPA range estimates for the Nissan Leaf which is rated at 75 miles per charge. Charging is handled through a standard 7.2-kilowatt onboard charger, and with a 220-volt outlet the battery can be fully charged in four hours. With a normal 120-volt outlet, this charging time skyrockets to 20 hours for a full charge. There is also a fast charging option at specially equipped DC charging stations that can replenish 80 percent of the e-Golf's battery capacity in approximately 30 minutes.
There are three driving modes—Normal, Eco, and Eco+—that vary power output and throttle response for increased efficiency, and also three modes of regenerative braking—D1, D2, and D3—that offer varying levels of regeneration when coasting. In Eco mode, maximum motor output is cut to 94 hp, which increases the 0-to-60-mph time to 13.1 seconds, while top speed is limited to 72 mpg. In Eco+, output falls to 74 hp and top speed to 56 mph.
Compared with a standard 2015 Volkswagen Golf, the e-Golf has numerous exterior changes for the sake of aerodynamics. Up front there is a closed-off front grille, underneath there is more underbody paneling, and out back there is a rear spoiler and what Volkswagen calls “air vanes” at the C-Pillar to manage airflow. Other changes to the e-Golf include LED headlights, special 16-inch alloy wheels, and a low-speed sound alert system and re-worked sound deadening to make up for the electric motor’s near-silent operation.
The 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf will arrive in the U.S. a few months after the standard 2015 Volkswagen Golf is introduced in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014. Look for Volkswagen’s first EV in the U.S. at its official debut in Los Angeles on November 20.