Volkswagen is preparing to launch an EV pilot program with 20 E-Golf EV prototypes. Over a nine-month period, the program will test the electric vehicles in select locations around the U.S., with the goal of gathering data to help develop VW’s EV technology for future applications.
Of the 20 E-Golf test cars, 12 will be allocated to VW employees, while the rest will be distributed to drivers in the specified test regions, which include the Detroit Metro, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. markets. VW will monitor the driving patterns, energy performance, and the effects of climate conditions on the E-Golf test cars when the program begins this April.
Like the standard Golf it’s based on, the E-Golf features a hatchback body style and seats five people. But the similarities end there, as the E-Golf is powered by an electric motor rated at 199 lb-ft of torque. A 26.5-kWh lithium-ion battery supplies the motor with the necessary energy, and is good for an estimated range of 93 miles. Users can charge the E-Golf by plugging into a connector behind the gas cap.
By launching its own EV test program, VW follows the lead of BMW, Honda, and others. BMW previously conducted tests of the Cooper-based Mini E through a lease program in the U.S., and has just rolled out a fleet of electric 1 Series test cars. The results from both programs will likely be used in the development of BMW’s upcoming i3 electric city car. Honda recently loaned Fit EV demonstration cars to Google, Stanford University, and the city of Torrance, Calif. as part of a trial program leading up to the car’s slow public rollout in 2013. Similarly, the E-Golf program will help VW iron out its EV tech for use in future models. VW already has plans to build an electric version of its Up! subcompact, and recently showed off its E-Bugster electric Beetle concept in Detroit, so the German automaker can likely put the data acquired from this program to good use.