Volkswagen has confirmed that an all-electric version of its Golf compact hatchback will go on sale in the U.S. late next year as a 2014 model.
The president of Volkswagen of America, Jonathan Browning, gave the news to industry trade journal Automotive News (subscription required) during last week's Geneva Motor Show.
The battery electric Golf will be the company's first plug-in vehicle sold in the States, based on the all-new 2013 Volkswagen Golf that's likely to be launched formally at this fall's Paris Motor Show.
The 2014 Volkswagen Golf electric model will be rolled out regionally, with California almost surely at the top of the list of early states.
Ultimately, VW plans to put it on sale nationally, Browning said.
It will go on sale in Europe at roughly the same time, most likely under the name Volkswagen Golf Blue E-motion. We're rather hoping the U.S. unit sticks with the simpler "eGolf" name used on its current fleet of electric Golf prototypes.
That fleet is built using current-generation Golfs converted to run on a prototype of the electric drivetrain. About 500 of these Golf electric cars are under test globally, with the first of only 20 for the U.S. arriving in California last month for testing by government agencies and fleets.
We drove a VW Golf Blue E-motion prototype last July in the U.K., and found it quiet, brisk in city traffic, but "leisurely" above that in reaching highway speeds.
Volkswagen actually has a long history of electric Golfs, having produced limited numbers of electric conversions of every single Golf model--starting with the very first mid-Seventies car, sold in the U.S. as the Rabbit.
Our writer Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield wrote about her own electric 1985 Volkswagen Golf CityStromer, now being restored by the factory, in December 2010.
With its longstanding strength in diesels and expanded range of TDI diesel models on sale in the States, Volkswagen has been relatively slow to offer electrified vehicles of any kind.
Its first hybrid-electric vehicle, the 2011 Volkswagen Tourareg Hybrid, didn't go on sale until last year.
Late this year, VW will offer a 2013 Jetta Hybrid model, its first in the compact segment.