Just as word spread that Chevy would back away from the Volt for a time, Volkswagen announced that it would dip its toe into the U.S. electric vehicle market for the first time.
Beginning this month, Volkswagen will launch a pilot program to test 20 prototype E-Golf Battery Electric Vehicles in select locations in the U.S. The testing program will last for nine months, during which time a dozen of the green cars will be driven by selected Volkswagen employees.
The E-Golf is identical to the conventional four-door Golf model, with seating for five people. It includes a powerful electric motor that's sustained by a 180-cell lithium-ion battery with an energy capacity of 26.5 kilowatt-hours. The E-Golf has an estimated driving range of 93 miles.
By distributing the E-Golf prototypes to drivers in Detroit Metro, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. markets, Volkswagen says it will be able to better monitor the effect of climate conditions, driving patterns, and energy performance in different geographical regions. It will use the data and insights collected during the study to develop future EV technology applications.
In addition to testing the vehicle itself, users will also sample specific services designed specifically for the E-Golf. A 220-volt charging stations will be installed at each employee's home to charge the vehicles. Each E-Golf comes with an iPhone and a dedicated app that allow the user to check the battery’s charging status, regulate the car’s internal temperature, gauge how much charging time is left, or even remotely start the charging procedure. Finally, Volkswagen has set up a web portal dedicated to the fleet test to support the users 24/7 in case of specific questions and in order to allow users to share their feedback on the E-Golf.