How did Volkswagen shrug off a biting scandal surrounding its diesel models and manage to post a slight increase in year-over-year sales? It depends where you look in the automaker’s October sales report. Big gains from the Tiguan crossover certainly helped stave off disaster, but sales of the e-Golf reached an all-time high for the brand’s only electric car. You could easily argue the best month ever for the e-Golf was the deciding factor as the company went into survival mode last month.
Volkswagen’s October sales of 30,387 units were a quarter-percent (0.24%) better than the company performance from last year, which has to be considered a victory considering the slew of bad press Dieselgate has generated. According to Automotive News, generous purchase incentives were at the heart of the strong showing, with dealers increasing promotions by more than 50% from a year ago.
Big declines for the Golf (-53%), Jetta (-36%), and Beetle (-44%) put the automaker in the danger zone without TDI models offering leverage on dealer lots. Strong showings by Passat (+24%) and Tiguan (+167%) negated some of the poor performances across the brand lineup. Yet it was the e-Golf, a wild card that had never came close to 500 sales in the past, that made the biggest gain of all with 596 sales.
Since there was only one sale in October 2014, the comparison doesn’t work year over year, but its performance earlier in the year can shed light on how well the e-Golf really did. It beat its September performance (353 units) by more than 60% and beat sales from the first three months of the year combined (506). Maybe electric is the way for VW to go after all.
The previous high for the e-Golf came in May 2015 when Volkswagen moved 410 units of the all-electric version of its compact car, which the EPA rates at 83 miles of range. As we learned in a three-day test of this car, the electrified Golf more than holds its own in city driving.
As of August, the e-Golf is also one of the most affordable EVs on the U.S. market at $29,815 after destination charges. That includes the 3.6 kW onboard charger that is essential for replenishing the battery at home or on the road.
Regarding the Volkswagen Group’s EV plans, the next model to appear in the U.S. is the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid with at least 20 miles available in electric range before switching over to gas power. It has a sticker price of $37,900 before figuring plug-in incentives.
In the meantime, VW will have to depend on the e-Golf for sales in the electric vehicle segment. If it can string along several months like it had in October, the sting of Dieselgate might hurt a little less.