This morning, we got all the details on the new Volkswagen e-Golf electric car, ahead of its debut next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The E-Golf is a battery-electric version of the all-new seventh-generation VW Golf, which will go on sale in the U.S. next spring as a 2015 model.
The electric five-door hatchback is the first Volkswagen plug-in car designed for mass production, though the actual number to be built and sold remains unclear.
Volkswagen e-Golf - 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
VW will launch the car "only at participating dealers in select states," and it will go on sale roughly a year from now, in the fourth quarter of 2014.
But the final specifications indicate that the E-Golf could pose viable competition for the high-volume Nissan Leaf, should VW choose to build it in quantity.
Volkswagen has said it intends to be "the world leader in e-mobility" by 2018, though the company considers that to include conventional hybrids as well as zero-emission plug-in vehicles.
The new Golf, slightly longer and wider than today's model, is expected to retain the good roadholding and fun-to-drive nature the German compact hatchback is known for.
The electric Golf's liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack has a capacity of 24.2 kilowatt-hours. It is located in the floor, under the front and rear seats, and in the tunnel down the middle of the car. It was developed in-house by VW engineers, using large-format prismatic cells.
The electric motor that powers the front wheels--also developed in-house--is rated at 86 kilowatts (115 horsepower) and 199 lb-ft of torque.
Acceleration from rest is given as 4.2 seconds to 25 mph, and 10.4 seconds for the 0-to-60-mph dash. Speed is limited electronically to a maximum of 87 mph.
Volkswagen quotes a range of 70 to 90 miles, depending on driving conditions and style, but the EPA has not yet rated the E-Golf's range.
Volkswagen e-Golf - 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
The onboard charger can operate at up to 7.2 kilowatts, meaning a completely discharged battery could be recharged in 4 to 5 hours. A full recharge on standard 110-Volt U.S. household current will take about 20 hours.
More interesting, Volkswagen will make DC fast-charging at up to 40 kW a standard feature, allowing an 80-percent recharge in about 30 minutes.
It's worth noting that the E-Golf will use the Combined Charging System (CCS) fast-charging standard, for which there are only a handful of U.S. charging stations today.
And VW is providing a roadside assistance plan to delivers cars whose batteries are discharged to nearby charging stations and transport the owners to home or work if they don't want to stay with the car.
The Volkswagen E-Golf has three driving modes: Normal, Eco, and Eco+, and also three different levels of regenerative braking that can be selected with the shift lever.
Volkswagen e-Golf (German version)
The Eco mode limits motor output to 94 hp, and torque to 162 lb-ft. Top speed is only 72 mph, and the acceleration time from 0 to 62 mph rises to 13.1 seconds. Heating and ventilation output is also reduced.
Eco+ mode is even more parsimonious, power is reduced to 74 hp and torque to 129 lb-ft. Air conditioning is turned off and top speed is limited to 56 mph--though in both Eco modes, full power, maximum torque, and the original 87-mph top speed can be obtained if the driver floors the accelerator pedal.
The E-Golf is fitted with a heat pump to capture heat from powertrain components, reducing the load on the high-voltage resistance heater to increase range during cold weather.
The Volkswagen E-Golf is also the very first VW model to be fitted with all-LED headlights. The LED daytime running lights form a distinctive C-shape.
Other details: A blue strip across the grille is meant to evoke the company's "Think Blue" slogan for sustainability. The 16-in wheels, unique to the E-Golf, are made of lightweight aluminum alloy and fitted with low-rolling-resistance tires.
And to minimize wind resistance, the electric Golf has a unique and longer roof spoiler, air vanes on the roof pillars, and a large underbody panel to smooth airflow under the car.
VW says it has taken special measures to make the E-Golf as quiet as possible for occupants, with a great deal of specialized acoustic tuning for the very different noise profiles of an electric car.
Interior amenities include a touchscreen navigation system with VW Car-Net connected services, keyless entry, heated front seats, and Bluetooth pairing. Options include satellite radio, a rear-view camera, and parking sensors.
As usual for electric cars, many of the operating functions can be controlled via a smartphone app.