Volkswagen’s First Electric Car Will Be Based on 2013 Golf

It’s no secret that Volkswagen has some ambitious plans for the future, including becoming the world’s leader in hybrid and electric vehicles. The brand’s first electric car, scheduled to debut in 2013, will reportedly be based upon the company’s popular Golf hatchback.

That’s a bit of a departure from the company’s original plans, which suggested its first EV product would be based on its upcoming Up! minicar family. New reports suggest the Golf will be the first VW product to be electrified. The larger size “E-Golf” may resonate with global consumers -- and if it does, the automaker could quickly recoup development costs of the electric driveline.

E-Golf development is already underway, and the company plans to launch a test fleet of 500 vehicles in 2011. Consumers, however, won’t be able to purchase a vehicle until sometime in 2013.

VW sees the E-Golf as the first step in becoming an EV leader. By 2018, the company aims to sell 300,000 electric and hybrid-electric vehicles globally -- roughly equal to the number of hybrids and EVs sold in the U.S. in 2009.

“We will take the hybrid out of its niche status with our high-volume models,” said Martin Winterkorn, VW CEO. “In the future, the heart of the brand will also beat with electricity.”

Although it recently launched its first hybrid system in the new Touareg SUV, Volkswagen has several other hybrid models in the pipeline. A Jetta hybrid should debut in August 2012, and will be followed by a hybrid version of the “New Midsize Sedan” a year later. A Golf hybrid is expected to reach the market by October of 2013.

VW’s quest to become a leader in electric propulsion is a bit surprising, considering the automaker had been keen on utilizing diesel engines in its eco-friendly models. Volkswagen isn’t abandoning the TDI, however. Diesel engines will be offered in both the new Touareg and NMS, and will likely continue to be available in the next-gen Jetta and Golf model ranges.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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