Well, it’s a month and a half since we last spoke of it and I’ve put another 2200 plus miles on our long-term Volkswagen e-Golf since then, enough in my mind to confirm two things. First -- contrary to previous fears -- an electric car actually suits my urban/suburban, 80-mile a day lifestyle nicely. I could even see buying one. And second -- my earlier voiced suspicion that the new battery-powered Volkswagen is the best, most practical electric out there in the affordable range (sorry, Tesla) grows stronger and truer every day. I love this thing. There, I said it.
Demonstrating the depth of my enthusiasm, I even brought our long-term tester at 5.30am the other morning to the curb-side set of Fox News’ Fox and Friends morning show on Manhattan’s West 48th Street, where I’d been asked on as a guest in my capacity as the New York Bureau Chief for Automobile Magazine. The magazine had been invited to share five of our favorite “family” cars with Fox viewers and the Golf is definitely one of them.
To be precise, the e-Golf was meant to stand in for the whole line of Golfs – from gasoline powered base models starting around $19,000 through more expensive diesels, GTi’s and the e-Golf SEL Premium we’re driving, which stickers at $35,445 prior to federal tax rebates of $7500 plus any state incentives such as the $2500 additional rebate available in California. It looks like a standard Golf inside and out, with all the practicality that implies, so it makes a sensible choice for an urban or suburban family that’s not too large, is not hung up on riding high and mighty and doesn’t have too far to drive every day. If all that sounds like you, but you have to drive farther all at once, you want a gasoline- or diesel-powered Golf. Other than their powertrains, all Golfs are the same great package, with room, ride quality and comfort in welcome abundance.
Ideally e-Golf customers live in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, or Vermont, too, the states with laws mandating the sale of so-called zero emissions vehicles, because they’re the only places where VW dealers sell them, though presumably one could travel in search of their car and either ship it home or take a very long time getting there, as once the batteries are exhausted (around every 100-120 miles in our experience) you’ll be stopping for an overnight charge. That’s unless you’ve got a 240V Bosch supercharger like the one VW kindly installed in my garage (it would have cost about $500 for the unit, plus another $1500 for installation.) The slim-line wall-mounted unit flashes green when it’s charging and will power a largely depleted Golf from near exhaustion to peak charge in around 4 hours or less. Electricity is delivered to your thirsty battery pack by a plug that is standard across the industry – when you find a charge point, compatibility with the charging plug is a non-issue.
As a practical matter, the e-Golf’s range means I can drive to my office in Nyack, NY in the morning and have a full charge ready for a late lunch in New York City, 35 miles away, possibly visit Brooklyn or some other outlying borough, and still make it home in air-conditioned comfort without fear of the dreaded range anxiety or – as documented here -- range rage setting in. I’ve also used some parking garages in New York City where they have provisions for even faster charging of electric cars. One was free, another charged my credit card a few bucks. In the latter case the attendants first told me they didn’t have a charging station. When I told them that their website said they did they stared at me blankly. Then I said, "Tesla." Suddenly they knew what I was talking about and the VW was fully charged when I returned a couple hours later.
The 115-horsepower e-Golf takes off in a hurry, thanks to an EEM-85 synchronous permanent-magnet AC electric motor that serves up its maximum 199 lb-ft torque from 0rpm. Strong torque is essential for anyone who would attempt to joust seriously with other road users in the asphalt jungle and the e-Golf is proving an unexpectedly worthy steed. It gets going in a hurry and that’s another thing that adds to my overall above-average satisfaction with the e-Golf. Easy to read and use controls, decent materials and doors that shut with a solid thunk are some others.
Anyway, that’s some of what I might have told Fox & Friends if we’d had more time to talk about it. I might have told them how fun it is never stopping for gas or how I calculate that I’m spending a fraction as much for electricity as I would be on gas to go the same distance. (EPA estimates annual electricity cost at $550 based on 15,000 miles a year and their calculation of 116mpg-e, a little more than a third of the $1,450 the government estimates it would cost to fuel a gasoline-powered VW Golf over the same distance.} Then again, if I had gotten into this discussion I might have also wound up talking about how much I dislike oil companies and the special psychic reward that comes from denying them additional income plus questions of air pollution and the relative evils of electricity generation in the context of electric versus non electric cars and government incentives and the EPA and before long we might not have been friends any longer. But with you guys I can speak frankly. If you think an electric car might work for you, check out the e-Golf.