Volkswagen says it will substantially expand the range of its e-Golf when a face-lifted version of the battery electric hatchback goes into production in December.
That would close the performance gap that has opened up with the freshened BMW i3 that goes on sale in the U.S. in August.
Officials say the e-Golf will be able to travel 186 miles in the European driving cycle on one charge, up from 118 miles previously. Under normal driving conditions the battery should be sufficient for occupants to travel 124 miles, VW says. That is identical to the new i3
“There’s a competitor from Munich that can just about reach that, only … theirs weighs 300 kilograms [661 pounds] less,” said Thomas Lieber, head of complete vehicle development for the VW brand’s electrified car range, referring to BMW’s i3.
The Golf is VW’s best-selling model, with nearly 1.1 million built last year. But the electric version accounts for only about 1 percent of all Golf volume.
The U.S. is the biggest market for the electric Golf, with 47 percent of the model’s production destined for America compared with 37 percent for Norway. This year, Volks-wagen managers expect to build 12,140 e-Golfs in Wolfsburg, Germany. It is assembled bumper-on-bumper alongside conventionally powered sibling model to keep a ceiling on costs.
Volkswagen says the new e-Golf battery will have nearly 50 percent higher energy density thanks to an identical improvement in the charge its prismatic lithium ion cells can carry.
Despite the more powerful cells, Lieber said the recharging time is unchanged because the charger can now feed as much as twice the energy into the 35.8 kilowatt-hour battery as before.
While VW expects greater energy efficiency over the current 12.7 kWh required for 62 miles, officials did not quantify the improvement.
The car will be capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 9.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 93 mph. The current e-Golf’s 0-to-62 mph time is 10.4 seconds and its top speed is 87 mph.
While a price has yet to be announced, it now costs 34,900 euros ($39,000), just 50 euros shy BMW’s rival model, even though the electric Golf is slightly slower in the sprint than the less roomy i3.
VW officials say that, unlike, BMW, the brand will not continue offering the original version alongside the longer-range sibling.
BMW has been paying tribute to its classic cars since 2006, when it launched the Concept Coupe Mille Miglia — a beaut that evoked the lines of the 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe, winner of the 1940 Mille Miglia race.
It was followed by the M1 Hommage in 2008, the 328 Hommage in 2011 and the 3.0 CSL Hommage unveiled last year.
This year, BMW has come up with a design study to mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of the 2002 coupe, one of the most significant models in its history. The M2-based 2002 Hommage Concept, unveiled at the Villa d’Este concours d’elegance in Cernobbio, Italy, “celebrates the extraordinary feats of engineering behind the BMW 2002 turbo — and re-imagines them as a design study for our times,” the company said in a statement.
The original 2002, a normally aspirated car launched in 1966 and considered the inspiration for the 3 series, still “influences everything we do,” said BMW Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk.