Archives: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

Your writer is lucky enough to be involved with Stanford University’s revolutionary Revs program and at a recent event a former student showed him “the latest car we have, an electric Golf”. We were in VAIL—the Volkwagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory—and surrounded by all Stanford’s autonomous and solar car experiments and projects.

Visually, the Golf was distinguished from its conventionally motivated brethren only by some blue trim around some of the jewelry, in that hue of blue which car makers have decided conveys electricity and cleanliness. My former student knows me well, knows we share a love of cars and motoring. He was most interested in the part of our course which covers the rise of the British “garagiste” teams in Formula One, because the challenge was such an exciting one for a car loving engineer.

“It’s fast,” enthused the student. “Not so much when it is going, but off the line”

“The main thing you notice is the power delivery is so seamless,” commented another.

The interior feels high quality; the steering wheel has a squared-off bottom, with blue stitching on the rim, and the ensemble feels very close the Audi rental cars I have recently written about. Outside, panel fit is immaculate, with tight, regular shutlines.

My student enthused about the back up camera: “It’s hidden behind the VW badge on the trunk, it is only uncovered when you put the car in reverse, it took me ages to figure out where it was, I could hear an electric motor whirring, but I couldn’t see it… I love the detail”

Bringing me the key, “Start it up, just put your foot on the brake.”

I did as he suggested even though we were in the lab, facing the wall and the party.

“Now put it in Drive”

I did as he suggested.

“See, we think this is Bad Design; you could run all these people over now, and they don’t even know you started the car”

Indeed, there was an oblivious cheese and wine drinker standing against the front bumper. The car had started and gone “into gear” without a sound to betray it.

I pointed out that if there was a beeper, it would be annoying, like seatbelt chimes.

He suggested I put the car back in Park, and put the handbrake on.

“Do you hear that hiss? I love that sound; maybe that’s the kind of sound we need.”

The novelist William Gibson said: “The future is now, it’s just not evenly distributed.” In this Golf, we see the future; it looks and drives like the cars we already know, just with a bit more pep and vigor. You see, Mr. Customer, you have nothing to be afraid of. This Electric Golf is just like your old Golf, just a bit more smooth, a bit more swift, and with none of those expensive visits to gas stations…