Still reeling from a damaged reputation and a slew of emissions-related lawsuits, Volkswagen is working around the clock to divert attention elsewhere within its lineup in order to salvage what’s left of its image. The cocky “Das Auto” slogan has reportedly been set for premature retirement, new EV concepts like the BUDD-e microbus have made their way toward center stage, and familiar models have been receiving upgrades like never before.
So in order to make things appear even more enticing to potential buyers, Autoblog reports that Volkswagen will give the e-Golf plug-in a 30% boost in range, while keeping its sticker price as low as possible. In a well-timed counter attack to all the negativity, VW told the news source that these new-found gains will come entirely from a battery redesign. Volkmar Tanneberger, the brand’s head of electronic development, says “the battery cells in the e-Golf will grow to 37 amp hours from 28 amp hours currently, and this jump allows for the improvement without any physical changes to the battery design.”
“It’s the same package but just with the next generation of cells,” Tanneberger said during a roundtable discussion at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. While Volkswagen remains tight-lipped as to when it plans to introduce this latest update, the news could cause a ripple in the plug-in wars as its closest competitors prepare for retaliation.
The plug-in game may sound like a silly one to gamble on at this time in history with a gallon of gas costing less than a cheese coney, but there’s a reason for this “new year, new you” jab at offering more for the money. Volkswagen has long toted stats that shine light on its diesel engines for both mileage and environmental stewardship, something it can no longer do. So by improving upon its next best green machine, the German automaker can both divert attention away from its misdeeds and bolster consumer interest at the same time.
The current e-Golf has an EPA-estimated range of 83 miles, and while we tested and approved of its design for simple around-town tasks, boosting its reach by an extra 30% would put the car in a far more attractive buying bracket. One hundred and eight miles may not sound like a lot, but when commutes to the office and home again are the order of the day, this car becomes far more attractive to potential buyers — especially if a grocery run is added to the afternoon commute.
If Volkswagen can indeed make the gains it wants in the e-Golf, the electric little hatch could become a real threat to cars like the latest and greatest Nissan Leaf, which now utilizes a 30-kWH battery and has been designed to yield a 107-mile range on average. This leads us to why a simple battery redesign may actually help recharge America’s interest in the VW badge, even if it is but a small positive token when compared to all the negative media it has seen over the past few months.
While it may not be an especially hot seller, the e-Golf has kind of become VW’s accidental sales hero now that diesels are off the table and it’s taking more responsibility for volume than it was ever supposed to. The old saying about life giving you lemons seems to ring true here, and even though VW has still seen quite the sour serving of slumping sales since the fiasco began back in September, trumping its nearest competition’s best effort certainly does give everyone something else to talk about.
Joerg Sommer, VW of America’s product planning chief, may have explained the company’s shift toward an electric offensive best: “That’s the beauty of it. You’re disrupting what people know.” So let’s hope that this redesigned battery lands sooner than later, because as of right now Volkswagen is still far from being out of the woods, and a fresh shot of positive press is really what it needs right about now.