The Volkswagen electric range is arguably more impressive than any other global manufacturer.
But electric cars aren’t a new concept to VW like they are with some others. In fact, Volkswagen has been paving the way for greener, more sustainable driving since the 1970s.
Perhaps it was the aftereffect of the Hippie ‘60s or the scientific prediction that oil was going to run out by the 1990s. Whatever the catalyst, it gave an insight into the journey motoring would take.
Volkswagen’s Electric Car History
In 1970, in the immediate aftermath of the first man walking on the Moon, engineers were looking towards the future.
Volkswagen set up its Centre for Future Research, and electro-chemist, Adolf Kalberlah, began his journey of creating a dependable powertrain for an oil-free world.
He, working alongside a small team, took little time before developing a battery system that would power VW’s first all-electric car. Just two years later, it was complete; the T2 Camper.
VW All-Electric T2 Camper
Based on the same styling as the fossil-fueled power Camper, the electrified model would travel up to 70km (around 43 miles) on a single charge – perfect for a short commute and pottering around town.
Because of its ingenuity and practicality, it became a very popular vehicle in West Germany – where they had also introduced ‘Car-free Sundays’ such was the panic over the recession in oil.
Another selling point was its simplicity. The T2 Camper came long before the fast-charging stations we see in service stations and supermarkets today. Instead, all the driver needed was a cable and a standard 220-volt socket and they could be on their way.
However, as with all new, innovative technology, there were some issues to work through. The primary being the vehicle’s weight.
As the Camper wasn’t small to begin with, and battery technology was not what it is nowadays, the T2 weighed over a tonne, and power maintenance was difficult.
To sidestep the issue, Kalberlah and his team created a way to simply replace the batteries when flat – arguably not the most sustainable model.
It could be one of the reasons the T2 Camper never caught on across the world, that and oil level projection fears being way out.
But that wasn’t the end of the electrified van. In 1976, the Museum of Modern Art in New York launched a competition to find the taxi of the future. And with some modifications, including a hybrid engine rather than being solely battery-powered, the T2 took home first prize.
In the same year, the German manufacturer’s Centre for Future Research also gave the world their third future-proof instalment; the all-electric Golf.
The First All-Electric VW Golf
We see the all-electric Golf today as a true pioneer. It’s technologically advanced, stunning to drive and practical.
But the idea didn’t appear overnight. It stemmed from the mid-1970s when Kalberlah and his team of 10 created the first all-electric VW Golf.
It didn’t share the success of the T2 Camper, however, did inspire the Golf I City-STROMer – which came in 1981.
But again, there was no fanfare – although the 80s all-electric Golf was designed more so for testing purposes and produced in limited numbers.
However, despite its lack of sales, Kalberlah continued to drive one every day, paving the way for today’s Volkswagen electric range.
Volkswagen Electric Range
The Volkswagen ID.3 is one of the most exciting vehicles VW has created, arguably, since the Golf in 1974.
Unlike many other electric vehicles, the ID.3 was designed solely with battery power in mind. It’s not a convert, and it’s packed full of futuristic technologies and driver aids. One being the batteries themselves.
With the ID.3, you have the choice of battery size depending on what type of driving you’ll be doing. There’s the small battery if your main jaunts are the city streets, medium, for those with a longer commute or who enjoy weekend drives, and large, which will cover 340 miles on a single charge according to its WLTP test.
Another important characteristic is the use of augmented reality. The optional AR display sends information straight onto the windscreen.
However, unlike your standard virtual cockpit, the AR interacts with the world around you. While using sat-nav, for example, the direction icons will become part of the road, giving you clear instructions as you’re driving.
And when you’re using the ID.3’s adaptive cruise control, it’ll ensure you remain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you, even predicting the behaviour of other drivers depending on your location.
But the most inspirational aspect of the ID.3 by far is its target of bringing the enjoyment back into driving.
Electric cars have a stigma attached that they’re for eco-warrior bores who refute the idea of fun, or for business people looking to save a bit of money on their taxes.
The ID.3 challenges that notion with a funky interior and stellar drive. Think Golf, but with the fun an electric powertrain can provide.
- ID.3 Life
- ID.3 Style
- ID.3 Business
- ID.3 Family
- ID.3 Tech
- ID.3 Max
Advantages of Volkswagen ID.3
- Brilliant styling
- Futuristic technology
Disadvantages of Volkswagen ID.3
- Small cabin space for vehicle size
- Interior will split opinion
While the Volkswagen ID.3 is one of the most exciting vehicles VW has produced in around 50 years, the ID.4 is arguably one of the most important.
With the Tiguan superseding the Golf some time ago as the German company’s best-selling car, VW’s first all-electric SUV has big shoes to fill.
On the face of it, the ID.4 looks like any other SUV. It’s not dull nor boring, but very VW.
As with the ID.3, and a lot of other EVs, the ID.4 places detailing emphasis on its lighting, with a panoramic LED bar and logo interacting with the front and rear headlights, setting a futuristic tone.
Inside, the ID.4 isn’t as simple as some, such as the Tesla Model Y, but it’s in keeping with VW’s prestige but not flashy brand. There’s also a tonne of space, including a 600-litre boot.
The all-electric SUV is still a little while away from being available to drive, especially the all-wheel-drive version which will come in 2021.
But what we do know is the ID.4 will initially come with a 170kW powertrain – enough for 204bhp – in rear-wheel-drive form. It’ll also come with two battery sizes, enough for 218 miles of range or 323.
When the updated version comes, you can expect the power to be beefed up to 300bhp, and it’s likely the 100mph electronically-limited speed ceiling will be lifted, at least a little higher if not altogether.
77KWh (Not available at launch)
Advantages of Volkswagen ID.4
- Huge amounts of space
- High-quality interior
- Can do anything any other SUV can
Disadvantages of Volkswagen ID.4
- Design will split opinion
- No all-wheel-drive at launch
Volkswagen labels the e-Golf as everything you’d expect from a Golf, and more.
As we’ve come to expect through the eight generations of VW Golf we’ve seen over the last five decades, the e-Golf drives superbly, is practical, comfortable and is the perfect all-round car.
And now it’s been electrified, you can still enjoy the Golf’s pioneering features with zero emissions.
The e-Golf doesn’t boast the same levels of range as the ID.3, just 144 miles – which is still more than some – but it does come with all the same home comforts and features you’d get in the fossil-fuelled version.
A digital instrument cluster and 8-inch touchscreen system come as standard, although there’s also the option to upgrade to a 9.2-inch centre console. Ergonomically and aesthetically pleasing dials are where you’d want them to be, as is the conventional automatic gear stick.
There are, however, a few styling tweaks inside and out. Blue stitching is apparent on the interior to signify the Golf’s electric nature, while a more aerodynamic front grille and alloy wheels offer slight hints of the vehicle’s powertrain.
But other than that, it’s a Golf. And if you’re looking for a reliably-brilliant vehicle while remaining conscious about your carbon footprint, the e-Golf is perfect.
Advantages of e-Golf
- It’s a Golf!
- Retains most of its space despite big batteries
- Excellent driver’s car
Disadvantages of e-Golf
- Low range
- More expensive than some competitors
Volkswagen Hybrid Range
Although Volkswagen’s electric range is ever-growing, there’s also a focus in Wolfsburg to apply their electrified science to current petrol and diesel cars.
To date, there are three:
- Volkswagen Passat GTE
- Volkswagen Passat Estate GTE
- Volkswagen Golf GTE
Volkswagen Electric Range Software & Technology
As we discovered earlier, Volkswagen has long been pioneers in electric software and technology. And today, they continue that tradition.
Volkswagen’s ID. range – the ID.3 and ID.4 – don’t use another vehicle as their inspiration. They were designed from the ground up using VW’s most efficient mobility platform yet. It’s called MEB.
This allows you to customise your battery size without changing anything else in the vehicle.
It also gives you more space, as wheelbases are longer, overhangs are shorter and the electric motors are able to sit on the axils, ensuring you always enjoy a comfortable drive.
When you brake in any car you lose energy. But Volkswagen’s electric vehicles harness that energy and convert it in to power you can reuse. It’s called regenerative braking.
Smart Climate Control
All Volkswagen ID. vehicles are fitted with Smart Climate Control. This allows you to personalise your air conditioning settings and even pre-condition your vehicle before entering.
The Volkswagen electric range is virtually silent. However, to ensure safety to other road users and bystanders, VW engineered sound to be produced, as to not cause any harm.
Unlike conventional fossil-fueled vehicles, Volkswagen electric cars don’t require the engine heat to warm up the cabin. Instead, they developed a heat-pump to make sure warmth is on-demand during those cold winter mornings.
Dynamic Driving Mode
With the e-Golf, you have a choice in which driving mode you prefer. This ranges from normal, to eco and eco+. It means you can save your battery power for when you need it most.
It’s the same with the hybrid range.
Although Volkswagen’s autonomous driving technology is still only in its infancy, there are plans for the ID. range to work with other systems and provide complete autonomy behind the wheel through ID. Pilot.
The Future Volkswagen Electric Range
The ID. range is set to only expand over the coming years. But Volkswagen won’t forget about its petrol or diesel customer base as time goes by either.
There are currently four concept vehicles VW has designed. Although, whether these end up in production is yet to be confirmed.
Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport
The Volkswagen Golf GTE already exists. As does the Golf R – the performance version. Now, VW has set its sights on bringing the two together.
With an all-new carbon body, updated cockpit and electric driveshaft, the Golf GTE Sport could be a stepping stone for those not yet ready to immerse themselves into the fully-electric world.
Sport Coupe Concept GTE
Not since the death of the Scirocco a few years ago has Volkswagen offered a sporty coupe. Now though, that could be set to change, although it’ll still have four doors. *Sigh*.
With an appearance based on the front end of a VW Arteon, the sleek air-splitter features an ‘avant-garde design’, as well as a next-generation powertrain, combining the velocity of a TSI with two electric motors.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a concept list without an SUV, and Volkswagen, as ever, never fail to disappoint.
The Cross Coupe, however, is more about pushing the boundaries of efficiency and speed than anything else. It’s designed with the commute in mind, featuring a diesel engine with two electric motors.
It’s thought that you’ll enjoy the fuel-saving of a diesel alongside the power of an electric.
Quite an interesting concept, really.
Now we come to mouthwatering territory. A fully-fledged hybrid sports car.
We’ve seen a lot of these being produced in recent years, but none quite like the XL1 Sport. Yes, it’s petrol and electric combined, but the good ol’ fashioned fossilised thrust comes from an adapted Ducati 1199 Superleggera engine – the world’s most powerful two-cylinder motorbike.
It’s a concept that has been tried before, mainly in build-your-own track cars. But it provides lower weight and faster gear changes, elements critical for a sports car.
Volkswagen Electric Range At Hippo Leasing
If after reading this, you’re ready to start or take your next step in your Volkswagen electric car journey, we’d be more than happy to help you find the perfect vehicle.
With low rates of finance available, £0 deposit options, 48-hour UK-wide delivery and all part-exchanges accepted, it couldn’t be simpler to drive Volkswagen electric.