In this exclusive series of articles by David Spratt, he explores the electric vehicle (EV) options for specific business uses.
Part 3: Evaluating the Volkswagen e-Golf electric car.
It may be that I have now test driven one too many electric vehicles (EVs), but I have become increasingly irritated by the clunky and, dare I say, ugly designs that have been rolled out by some manufacturers.
Not the e-Golf, though. Volkswagen addresses this design challenge with a vehicle that feels familiar, comfortable and accessible from the moment you climb into it. Built from the ground up to look, feel and handle like a standard Golf Super Mini, this smart town car is a delight.
I want a car that can take me safely along country roads while allowing me to travel to the city, park in tight parking spots and save money on fuel. The e-Golf ticks every one of these boxes.
It accelerates smoothly and relatively quickly (from 0 to 100kph in 9.6 seconds).
It also has, for a small car, decent boot space and plenty of leg room for front and back seat passengers. I am six feet tall (1.83 metres for those of you living in the 21st century) and found the front and rear seating gave me plenty of leg room and riding comfort. My wife, a not-so-tall person, had an issue with seeing over the steering wheel for a clear view of the road ahead. But a simple height adjustment for the seat would have addressed this issue.
I live in the rural outskirts of Auckland and so want a car that can take me safely along country roads while allowing me to travel to the city, park in tight parking spots and save money on fuel. The Volkswagen e-Golf ticks every one of these boxes.
If I was to be critical though, there were occasions when the car’s electronics got themselves into a bit of a twist and just stopped working. On at least two occasions, the parking brake and the auto hold feature for hill starts went to war, leaving me stuck in one place with a warning light and screeching sound, raising my anxiety levels. In the end, the only answer seemed to be to switch everything off and start again: fine if you are in a parking lot but not great if you are pulling out into traffic. This may be the result of an idiot behind the wheel rather than a fault, but it happened to both me and my wife on separate occasions.
Are we there yet?
Range anxiety was also an issue with the e-Golf’s distance calculator.
One moment my predicted range was displayed as 157km, then a few minutes later was 140km, only to return to 150km a while after that. I put this down to the range calculator being very sensitive to driving style and conditions, but a bit less variability would have had me more focussed on the road and less on worry about getting home on the available charge.
But charging was a breeze. At home, using a simple three-pin connector, a total recharge took around 11 hours. My favourite, free, fast charger at Counties Power HQ took 45 minutes to get me up to 80 percent, plenty of time for a coffee and a quick browse around the shops nearby.
As is the case with all the electric vehicles I have tested, the e-Golf saw me spending less than $20 per week on charging with no concessions to convenience.
Despite the car’s price of $65,990 the economics for the average business owner almost make sense. Give it a year or two and EVs like this will be a no-brainer for many business applications.
My contacts tell me the Volkswagen e-Golf is rapidly becoming a European sensation, and the future of VW motoring. I can see why. This car is a little beauty.
I gave the Volkswagen e-Golf an admiring 7.5 out of 10.
Thanks to VW New Zealand for supplying the e-Golf for testing.