The fact that most major manufacturers are now investing serious amounts of time and money in battery electric vehicle (BEV) development is proof positive that an electric automotive future will soon be upon us. While some, like Mitsubishi and Nissan, are already leading the charge onto the driveways of more and more folks around the globe, others prefer to take a more considered approach. Such is the case with Volkswagen. After giving us a glimpse of its plans for an electric Golf back in 2010, the company has now announced that a nine-month pilot scheme is to start next month in the U.S., to evaluate a prototype electric version of the company's popular hatchback ahead of commercial production.
Some 20 E-Golf vehicles will be deployed by Volkswagen of America during the pilot in the Detroit Metro, San Francisco, and Washington areas, twelve of which will be allocated to VW employees. Data gathered during the trial period will be used in the development of future BEV technology - VW will monitor the effects of different climate conditions on performance, test user experience and driver patterns, and evaluate energy performance.
"During this test we will examine in detail all the technical and administrative aspects of typical consumers using electric vehicles on an everyday basis," said VW's Dr. Rudolf Krebs.
Drivers will also be asked to test specific services designed for the E-Golf, including 200-volt charging stations that will be installed at the homes of those testing the vehicle. They'll be given an iPhone, too, with a dedicated app pre-installed for remote monitoring of charge levels, and regulation of the car's internal temperature. The app can be used to start the charging process. The company is about to set up a dedicated web portal to support the E-Golf pilot scheme.
The five-seat, four-door E-Golf hatchback BEV features a lightweight (187 pound/80 kg) 85kW peak electric motor that is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 11.8 seconds, offers a top speed of 84 mph (135 km/h) and delivers 199 pound-feet (270 Nm) of torque, the latter almost as much as the new GTi Cabriolet. It's powered by a 26.5 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack made up of 180 cells spread over 30 modules, giving an estimated range of 93 miles (150 km) - although the scheduled production version that was recently confirmed for European availability late next year (with the U.S. penciled in for 2014) is expected to get a bit of a range boost.
The E-Golf implements a number of measures to maximize energy efficiency, including the ability to coast when the accelerator pedal is released, three-level regenerative braking and Normal, Eco and Range driving modes. A constant thermal environment in the battery compartment is maintained by a combination air/water cooling system.