As we pointed out last week, it’s not always best to be first to release a new generation of technology, especially when the competition is so fierce. Playing the game between being the first and the best is a tough one for automakers everywhere.

While Mitsubishi, Chevrolet and Nissan are all fighting the price wars that accompany the first wave of all-electric and range-extended electric vehicles due to hit the streets this Fall, a team of dedicated German engineers have been working on a vehicle they hope will beat every other one on the market.

The 2013 Volkswagen Golf Blue e-Motion.

But these engineers are hardly the first ones to develop electric drivetrains for Volkswagen.

In fact, for as long as the Volkswagen Golf/Rabbit platform has existed, electric versions of the car have been developed.

1985 Volkswagen Golf

1985 Volkswagen Golf

The first of Volkswagen’s Electric “CityStromer” Golfs were designed around the Mark I VW Rabbit. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Golf continued to develop the model in small numbers, using whichever body style was current at the time.  

I own an extremely rare 1985 right-hand-drive VW Golf CityStromer, based on a Mark II body shell, but Mark III and IV electric Golfs exist in small numbers across Europe.

So if Volkswagen has been working on electric drivetrains for nearly three decades, why isn’t it launching an electric car sooner?

The answer seems to be an engineering one. Volkswagen are keen to see just what happens with other electric cars, such as the 2010 Nissan Leaf.

In short, Volkswagen is playing a waiting game.

The Telegraph’s Andrew English has just been given a preview drive in Volkswagen’s latest test-car. For a car more than two years from release, he reported that it drove extremely well.

“Pull away with three adults on board and the Golf is brisk and strong up to about 50mph, where the torque peak starts to tail off. Even so, it will happily cruise at 75mph and pulls gamely up to 90-100mph. It is eerily silent and refined, and much better than rivals that are nearer production.”

The production version of the 2013 Volkswagen Golf e-Motion will include an 85 kilowatt motor capable of providing one bhp more than the original Golf GTI, but a whole lot more torque.

One thing is certain. Volkswagen’s extensive programme of testing and development, if continued for the next few years, is bound to result in an amazingly well built, carefully engineered vehicle.

While Volkswagen have not yet committed to bringing the all-electric 2013 Golf to the U.S. market we’re pretty convinced it will make an appearance if U.S. consumers welcome this year’s electric cars with open arms.  

If not, Volkswagen may be making one serious error.