Volkswagen AG (FRA:VOW) will roll into the L.A. Auto Show next week with an electrified version of its Golf subcompact that it plans to sell in the U.S.
Volkswagen is trying to get into the small market for plug-in electrics. Right now that small-but-growing market is dominated by the Nissan Leaf, the best-selling electric car ever. Nissan has seen its year-to-October sales of the Leaf in the U.S. balloon by 166 percent to a small-volume figure of 18,078 units.
Volkswagen has been beaten hard this year in the U.S. on enticing new offers from American and Japanese competitors in the small-car and compact-sedan segments. Sales of the gas-burning Golf are down 21 percent this year through October to 17,771 units, selling fewer than Nissan’s electric subcompact.
VW might be looking to lure customers away from the Chevy Volt EV, the Nissan Leaf or the Smart ForTwo, but the real target is probably the BMW i3 scheduled for the U.S. market next spring.
E-Golf pricing information is not out yet, but Volkwagens tend to be priced above their Japanese and American segment peers and it could end up closer to the i3’s starting price of $41,350 than other small EVs' prices in the $20,000 range.
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Volkswagen is addressing EV range anxiety (consumers' concern about running out of juice and being stranded) with a roadside assistance plan. How it works: If you run out of juice and you’re 100 miles from home, VW will deliver the car to the nearest charging outlet, and if that’s not your home, it will pay for cab fare. It will be interesting to see how consumers react to this offer. Will it allow them to overcome range anxiety only to be replaced with roadside assistance anxiety?
Here are some E-Golf specs:
RANGE: 70 to 90 miles, depending on driving habits and which of the three regenerative braking modes are used.
CHARGETIME: 80 percent in 30 minutes.
DRIVETRAIN: 115 hp powered by a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery.