Archive for category Golf EV
Cliffs notes: not ready for the mainstream.
As noted in the forum, I don’t have pictures or specs to accompany this review because there are a million pics and technical specs you can find elsewhere if you don’t know what this car looks like or is about. This review is just my opinion of the car.
The main reason is that to be mainstream, it requires a change in consumer behavior. People aren’t used to plugging in the car overnight or planning their routes. This is necessary because the car’s range is around 100 miles. Unfortunately, the EPA estimates range at 73 miles/charge which is closer to many people will see. Under conditions like a heat wave or very cold temperatures, range could be further reduced because you’re blasting the AC or heater. While you can plug in the car to preheat or pre-cool the car, you will most likely not have this ability where you’re parked during the day.
The technical specialist did a good job comparing charging the Leaf to charging cell phones. Most people plug them in overnight and don’t think about it at all. When people are exposed to new things, they are most comfortable when it combines new concepts with familiar concepts. This is a basic concept of learning. Unfortunately, another basic concept of learning is that the first thing they are exposed to is what they will have the strongest affinity towards. People are used to a pattern of behavior and it requires a reason to change. Rising fuel prices are a good reason for change right?
There is talk about reaching peak oil and the price at which consumers will switch over to a more fuel efficient car. $4.50/gal has been mentioned and although prices have gone over this, people are still driving inefficient cars. Meanwhile, in Europe, fuel costs over $10/gal and they’re just driving smaller and more fuel efficient cars, not EV. The point is that although most people say they would buy an electric car when surveyed, I believe their relatively high purchase price, range concerns, and change in behavior required to use them effectively currently limit them to early adopters.
Is this more of a reflection on the qualities of the car or the people? I think a little of both. So what does this mean for the early VW electric cars and VW hybrid? This is not a surprise, but I think it’ll be only early adopters who are driving these first cars. This is why I said the Leaf is not for the mainstream. It’ll probably be Leaf V3.0 before they aren’t thought of being special and just thought of as cars. How long did it take for the smug to wear off the Prius? At what point will people overcome their resistance to EV? $10/gal alone might not do it. Much change has to come from within.
As for the actual test drive: the Nissan Leaf drives like a car. Despite the unique look of the car, it’s not a UFO. If you press the accelerator pedal and it goes. If you press the brakes it stops. The regenerative brakes are a little on the sensitive side, resulting in applying the brakes more by travel than by feel. Acceleration is slow but acceptable. It isn’t sporting or fast, consistent with the purpose of the car. If you can get past the unique look, there is really nothing that special about it other than the drivetrain. It runs quietly because there’s no engine so you do notice wind and tire noise but other than that, you get what you expect: a car!
I would gladly own one but wouldn’t buy one because of my driving style - I need a car with a longer range for my primary driving and because it’s still quite expensive. Nissan has an app which lets you plan your daily drive and see how the Leaf fits in your driving style: http://www.drivenissanleaf.com/Open/100Mile.aspx . This is a nice “first car” for local driving or city driving or a second family car. But until Leaf V3.0 comes around, I’ll be waiting with the mainstream. Since I’m a VW -Audi fan, I look forward to reviewing the electric Golf and seeing how it compares.
Yes, we know. “2014″ sounds so impressively future-y, doesn’t it? When we’re testing a car and the R&D people involved look at us and say it won’t be on the market until 2014, our eyes dilate, too. “Wow,” we say to ourselves while keeping a straight face in front of the mega-powerful board member, “That’s like space travel and everything!”
So yeah, we get emotional.
It’s understandable, too, because we’re in the mothership for what seems like half of the world’s significant automotive brands. It’s the Volkswagen Group’s Wolfsburg HQ on the vast verdant lowlands of northern Germany in the region of Lower Saxony. There is no Upper Saxony, by the way. We looked.
We’re here to get a personalized infotainment-filled test of the already much commented-on Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-motion. It’s coming to the United States in… 2014.
We did have an opportunity to drive the eGolf (they refer to it this way in company graphics displays, so…) toward the end of 2010 in Los Angeles, yes, but the conditions for getting thorough details were simply not there and the drive was a token 15 minutes in downtown L.A., which revealed little.
So, today we hit the road on the more cruising-style roads of the Wolfsburg area and get serious details. We’re with Sören Hinze, one of the key engineers in VW’s electric traction technical development group, and the overall head of technology product communication, Harthmuth Hoffmann, who has accompanied the Golf Blue-e-motion everywhere it has gone over the past few months.
Aesthetically, there’s not much to highlight with the exterior. It’s a Golf. With stickers. What really is different from a strictly stock exterior is the full feature set of VW’s BlueMotion aerodynamic touches. All body panels reduce gaps even further, the grilles and underbody provide less wind resistance, headlights and indicators are combined in one unit, the rear roof spoiler helps make the Golf slipperier and all-season tires are low-rolling resistance units. The central grille in this case is even simpler, too, since theoretically no air-flow is needed on this liquid-cooled electrical drivetrain. Our tires today, however, are rain forest-destroying winter treads – 205/55 16-inch Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D. It’s now German law that winter tires specifically marked “M + S” (mud and snow) must be mounted whenever cold-weather conditions dictate, or it’s one point off your license and a $55 fine – $110 if your negligence results in your car blocking traffic.
The roads were dry today, the winter sky gloriously sunny and we were filled with that let’s-keep-the-air-clean spirit. The Golf VI currently on the market is by far the quietest hatchback in history, with a level of noise-vibration-and-harshness work seen on cars like the Phaeton or Touareg. Take the internal combustion engine, fuel system and exhaust system away and it’s a magic carpet. In fact, the only sound we heard in the cabin besides the typical slight whine of the front AC/DC inverter and electronics management unit (yes, it’s an EMU) orchestrating everything up front was that of the dang-blasted winter tires. The coefficient of drag is pretty fine for this boxy configuration at 0.295. Just to be precise.
Inside, well, it’s also a Golf. The steering wheel with paddles are from the series car with DSG, as is the basic lever by our right thigh on the center console. The paddles in this case work a four-setting brake energy recuperation system, while the console shift lever adds a “B” at the bottom, which takes us straight to the highest level of brake energy recuperation. This extra setting is useful if, for instance, we find ourselves on a very non-Lower Saxon downhill from the Eisenhower tunnel east toward Denver, or whatever hurtling descent you care to mention. The B can also be engaged as heavy resistance as you approach a stop.
Of course, the onboard computer display also takes into account the fact that we’re in a lithium-ion-powered electric vehicle. Between the center screen, the analogue dials and our iPhone’s VW Remote application, Volkswagen has done everything possible to make certain normal drivers don’t experience range anxiety, or to keep them from ever getting caught powerless in the darkest reaches of Lower Saxony or Los Angeles. There are visual reminders everywhere we look of our hypothetical range remaining and the battery pack’s current state of charge.
There’s no sign of a sunroof on the inside, even though there seems to be one as you look at the Golf Blue-e-motion from the outside. Surprise! It’s a solar panel for collecting a little free energy for the battery. Another subtle alteration is the rear cargo floor raised by eight-tenths of an inch for the rear battery element, which lessens slightly the seats-up total capacity reading to 9.7 cubic feet.
In the nearby town of Kassel, Volkswagen’s Electro-Mobility Workshop has founded its own manufacturing facility for the 12,000-rpm, 114-horsepower electric motor weighing 176 pounds and mounted in front of the front axle, and driving same. The current 695-pound multi-module array of 180 lithium-ion cells is distributed in such a way that fore-aft weight here reads 50:50 percent, whereas a standard Golf is more front-biased at 55:45. The added 452 pounds of curb weight versus the heaviest series trim car is also placed way down in the structure. This inherently brings on altered dynamics for the drive, which are frankly in some ways better than anything the standard Golf can approach – at least in normal day-to-day toodling around
For the moment, VW bosses are not revealing the supplier of the lithium-ion cells since VW (and everyone else in this game) is taking proposals from every reliable source in South Korea, Japan and China. Chief engineer and VW brand board member Ulrich Hackenberg told us over lunch that it’s not only a matter of finding the highest-capacity cells at the lowest cost but also of mass production capabilities, the latter, he says, not being truly feasible until 2013. What a timely coincidence….
The current single-speed transmission employed in various forms on VW Group electric and hybrid projects is called EQ 210, and in this case, it uses a sky-high short ratio of 9.8:1 in order to get most all of the electric motor’s promised 184 pound-feet of torque to the ground instantaneously from zero rpm. That the Golf Blue-e-motion at 3,410 pounds and with such normal power and torque numbers can haul itself to 60 mph in “just” 11.6 seconds is a testament to this proprietary transmission mounted directly to the stage-left side of the electric motor. Talk about grace under pressure.
The key to experiencing all of the tree-hugging capabilities of the eGolf, however, is not to keep showing your three pals in the car with you how this thing lays rubber to 60 miles per hour from a stop. There are three drive “profiles” for forward progress – Normal, Comfort+, and Range+, selected via a button in front of the faux-leather skirted shift lever. In Normal and Comfort+ modes, you will not experience the stated possible 93.2-mile range from the 26.5-kWh battery assembly. This distance – as well as the stated distances coming from pies in the sky at any other manufacturer – is sheer delirium. You’ll be really lucky on a normal urban day (i.e. ideal conditions) to see 50 miles before crumbling under the stress of range anxiety. All battery-based drive systems allow the batteries to get only as low as 20 percent remaining charge before shutting down operations, too, so “empty” really isn’t empty, but more for safety so that all electrical engineers the world over can sleep better at night.
It’s so charming that VW has left the ESP Off button on this Golf. We know that it’s for when it might be bogged in mud or other low-traction impasses, but if you’re trying to get the Golf blue-e-motion into controlled slides, just forget it. Between the 50:50 neutrality of the weight distribution, the plumpness of that curb weight, and the generally un-sporty behavior of the car in anything resembling a slalom, all dreams of smoking tires and mayhem must be set aside for the good of the planet. Such is the story for all electric vehicles around and below this segment of the market – at least for now.
As a drive experience, nothing about the Golf Blue-e-motion surprises a lot. This is their proposal of this type of plug-in, it’s quite a capable piece of work and VW is waiting until higher-capacity lithium-ion cells come into real mass production in 2013 – conceivably just to make the price competitive with the Chevrolet Volt/Opel-Vauxhall Ampera. The hatch’s current v-max is not terribly interstate-friendly at 84 mph and your overall range would become anxious very quickly then anyways. The proposed VW Blue-e-motion models are, like the Nissan Leaf, confined strictly to the city or suburbs thereof.
The concept of variable kinetic brake energy recuperation is a good one, and on the Golf it goes in stages from minimum to maximum – D, D1, D2, D3 with the left DSG paddle, reverse order using the right paddle. We feel the greater resistance (i.e. recuperation) mostly in D1 and into D2, while D is barely felt and D3 doesn’t feel that much greater than D2. The B of the console shift lever is a quick way to reach maximum recuperation while approaching all those stops, or while snaking down the famous one-block stretch of San Francisco’s Lombard Street.
With the Nissan Leaf or Golf Blue-e-motion, the full EV is a necessary changer of one’s driving habits. Unless you are an intensely fastidious and sensible person and never drive too far, a sophisticated EV like the eGolf cannot be your only car. Chances are it will be the second or third car in most driveways.
The recharger cable for these eGolf prototypes are European 380-volt monsters that can do a full recharge in about 2.5 hours, but only under closely watched conditions due to any potential Godzilla-wrecks-the-power-station risks. A complete recharge from empty to maximize the next drive’s range will take a frustrating 15-ish hours with a 110-volt U.S. plug, dropping to six hours or so if you rewire your garage to 220 volts. Volkswagen’s e-mobility group is lobbying with others around the world to get a safe infrastructure standard for 300-to-400-volt quick-charge stations where we can all “fill up” in around 30 minutes. You can notice that, among the many bits VW is still experimenting with, VW is toying with the good idea of letting plug-in operations occur via the front-center VW badge or via the typical fuel cap position. It’s one more benefit of an electric car’s possibilities.
Without getting into too much detail, the VW Remote iPhone application is pretty ingenious stuff allowing you to monitor your Blue-e-motion’s recharge progress, current charge levels, interior temperature and possible range depending on your intended journey (which you can send to your car’s sat-nav prior to setting out). The possibilities of smartphone-to-car interactivity are numerous. We’re just at the beginning of this innovation phase, but already the apps are convincingly intuitive and actually helpful to maximizing one’s busy life.
So far as how forward progress feels when choosing Normal, Comfort+, or Range+, in the default Normal mode the EMU lets the system use up to 87 hp and all feels pretty normal around town. In Comfort+ – a questionable name since it’s more about power and not comfort – we got the full overboost of 114 hp when needed, even attempting a couple overtake maneuvers that proved slightly comical, though doable. Drop into Range+, and total power on tap is set at 67 hp, which is the steady-state power while cruising anywhere, or “sailing” as they all enjoy telling us. We are reminded of this latter mode from every start, if only because we were wondering if the VW would ever start moving forward. Pedal to the metal time, kids – an action that only helped things a little.
The modified plan is to have 250 Golf Blue-e-motion units in a test fleet distributed between Wolfsburg and Berlin by May of this year. For the United States, a small fleet will begin testing on both coasts in early 2012 – 10 cars kept at VW’s Westlake, California, facility and 10 kept in New York City.
According to Herr Hackenberg, the production Golf Blue-e-motion will hit the market in Western Europe in 2013 and in the U.S. and China in 2014, but it won’t actually be a for-sale car, remaining instead a lease-only proposal. This is disappointing, but then it was explained why. VW just doesn’t wholly believe in the commercial viability of selling pure EVs on any significant scale. What they envision as a greater strategy is the Toyota Prius-like parallel plug-in hybrid with an ever greater battery energy-holding capacity for greater and greater range and efficiency, plus a dedicated internal combustion engine for the application versus the boat anchor-like normal engines currently used by many. They don’t believe in the case for series-type EVs with extended range internal combustion motors since they have not proven terribly efficient setups in the end, as many initial readings on the Chevrolet Volt have made clear.
We’re in a period, then, where we cannot wait to see what undoubtedly state-of-the-art configuration VW comes out with for the Golf Blue-e-motion and other models, as the multinational perches above the current EV and extended-range frenzy, waiting for the right moment to do it with intelligence. VW may not be the first into the game, but they want to arrive ready to play hardball. Are they learning from the Koreans? They’d never admit to it.
The future awaits.
originally appeared on Autoblog March 21,2011
According to the October 2010 Car and Driver, lithium ion batteries from Sanyo and Toshiba are in short supply so VW is looking to BYD to supply batteries.
BYD is not a no-name company. Although their name isn’t very creative, (their auto division stands for Build Your Dreams), it’s the Chinese car company that Warren Buffet bought 10% of. Since 2003 when they entered the car market, their revenues have gone from about 0.5 billion to 4 billion. They initially began as a company supplying batteries for cell phones as substitutes for more expensive Japanese parts and was the first company to sell a production plug-in hybrid. My main criticism of the company is that the styling has been a rip off of other, more well known companies. When I say rip off, I don’t mean derivative, I mean the styling is a 95% directly copied from other models. One example is the BYD F8 (google it).
If BYD wants to move beyond supplying components for other cars and come to North America, they better steal the stylists from their competitors instead of just stealing their styles.
Initial Facts: Golf blue-e-motion – Presentation at Foundation Event for a “National Platform for Electric Mobility”
Volkswagen Presents Golf blue-e-motion Concept to German Chancellor
Golf powered by zero-emissions electric motor to launch in 2013
Golf blue-e-motion with 150 km range will also satisfy driving needs of commuters
Wolfsburg / Berlin, 03 May 2010 – Today, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel will have a close look at a concept of the future Golf blue-e-motion in Berlin. Volkswagen is forging new links to the era of electric mobility with this pure electric drive version of the most successful European car ever produced. In 2013, after the debut of the Up blue-e-motion (a new city specialist), the Golf blue-e-motion and the technically closely-related Jetta blue-e-motion will launch on the market. In the same timeframe, the Lavida blue-e-motion will also launch in China. The stated objective: Volkswagen wants to use bestsellers such as the Golf to take electric vehicles out of their niche model status and to become the market leader for a new type of sustainable mobility by 2018. This strategy coincides with planning by the German federal government, which would like to see about one million electric vehicles on the streets by 2020.
Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG: “Future electric cars give us enormous opportunities for reshaping mobility to be even more sustainable. When it comes to the environment, however, we must ensure that the energy used to operate these electric cars is produced from renewable sources. Since automotive manufacturers do not have any influence on the types of power plants that are built, the federal government must ensure that eco-friendly energy sources are utilised. Only then will we experience a genuine transition to a new era.”
In parallel with the electric vehicle offensive, Volkswagen is accelerating the introduction of new hybrid models as well. The new Touareg Hybrid is already on the market; in 2012 a hybrid version of the Jetta will debut, then in 2013 the Golf Hybrid and Passat Hybrid will launch. Just as methodically, Volkswagen will continue its development work on advanced and extremely efficient petrol, diesel and natural gas engines (TDI, TSI, EcoFuel), because it is an indisputable fact that a wide variety of drive technologies will coexist far into the future. “This makes it all the more important for the German federal government to proactively support the introduction of new technologies. With regard to electric mobility, the current temporary exemption of E-cars from taxes is inadequate,” says Prof. Dr. Winterkorn. The Volkswagen chief continues: “Starting in 2013 – the launch year for many new electric vehicles – the purchase of cars with zero-emissions drive systems should be promoted with a sustainability incentive. France, for example, has already pledged a cash incentive of several thousand Euros to buyers. We need to send such a signal in Germany as well. Moreover, and this is no less important, the German federal government must very quickly make provisions for broad coverage with a network of recharging stations across the republic, so that the infrastructure is available at the same time the electric car offensive is launched. Each new recharging station will also reinforce the public’s trust in the everyday utility of electric vehicles. Both of these components – state-funded incentives and infrastructure – are crucial and cannot endure any delay.”
Golf blue-e-motion concept car – highly anticipated
The Golf blue-e-motion concept being presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be powered by an electric motor integrated in the engine compartment in front, and its power of 85 kW / 115 PS drives the car silently. Like all electric motors, the motor used in the Golf also outputs a very high maximum torque (270 Newton-meter) right from a stop. The result: more fun in zero-emissions driving. The electricity for driving the electric motor is stored in a lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 26.5 kilowatt-hours.
A driving range of up to 150 kilometres can be realised in the Golf blue-e-motion; the specific range depends on driving style and factors such as use of the air conditioning and heating system. This range meets the needs of most German commuters: According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 6 of every 10 people in the workforce commute by car – on average 45.8 percent drive less than 10 kilometres (one-way commute), another 28.1 percent between 10 and 25 kilometres and 16.2 percent over 25 kilometres. The Golf blue-e-motion can also handle the driving ranges typically covered by many service providers. In short-distance driving, the zero-emissions Golf offers a sustainable solution to private users as well.
More noticeably than on today’s modern petrol or diesel engines, the maximum range of an electric car is severely reduced when its maximum power is demanded frequently. However, the Golf blue-e-motion – with its top speed of 140 km/h – provides ample power reserves so that less energy is consumed while driving, and it can even coast or “sail”. “Sailing” occurs whenever the driver – adopting an anticipatory style of driving – releases the gas pedal, or more apropos: the electric pedal. As in the drive system of the Touareg Hybrid, which is being produced today, the motor is then is disengaged from the drivetrain so that the car can coast with the least possible drag. The Golf blue-e-motion even recovers kinetically generated energy by battery regeneration in this mode of driving.
Adapted to the vehicle’s architecture, the concept car’s battery unit is located in the bootspace (useful remaining cargo capacity: 237 litres), under the rear bench seat and in the centre tunnel (between the front seats). A separate air cooling system ensures a constant thermal environment in the battery compartment.
As mentioned, all key primary and secondary drive components were integrated in the engine compartment at the front of the vehicle. In coming up with this design, developers applied experience they gained in numerous design studies. As in the E-Up concept car, an integral form of electric drive is used in the Golf blue-e-motion. Representing the core of the integral drive are the electric motor together with a transmission and differential. Energy management is handled by a high-voltage pulse-controlled inverter, which – along with the 12 Volt electrical system’s DC/DC converter and charging module – is integrated in the compact integral drive. The entire unit is relatively light and compact. The five-door and five-seat Golf blue-e-motion, for example, weighs just 205 kilograms more than a comparable Golf BlueMotion TDI with DSG – despite the fact that electric car batteries are known to be heavy and weigh 1,545 kilograms on the concept car.
Next year, Volkswagen will be testing the drivetrain and energy storage modules of the future Golf blue-e-motion with a fleet of 500 test cars – under all conceivable conditions. Essentially, the countdown to production launch of the future Golf blue-e-motion has already begun. The future is almost here, especially in Germany, because this is where one million electric vehicles will be on the roads starting in 2020 – this goal was resolved by the German federal government on August 2009 and is established in the “National Development Plan for Electric Mobility.” A long road lies ahead of us until 2020, especially since battery costs certainly need to be drastically reduced. However, another certainty is that a large number of the one million electric vehicles of the year 2020 will wear the VW badge.
Golf blue-e-motion Concept Car – Technical Data
Length 4,199 mm
Width 1,786 mm
Height 1,480 mm
Wheelbase 2,575 mm
Drive System Drive type Electric motor
Power (max. / continuous) 85 kW / 50 kW
Max. torque 270 Nm
Transmission / Tyres
Transmission EQ 210 (1-gear transmission)
Final drive type
CO2 emissions with electricity generated from renewable sources
source: VW press release