Volkswagen Quietly Built A Ton Of Electric Golfs For Nearly 40 Years

Volkswagen's fully electric e-Golf is coming to America in 2015, but they should have called it the CityStromer. You see, it's the Golf/Rabbit issue all over again.

In 1976, Volkswagen fitted a Golf with a 20 horsepower DC motor and lots of lead-acid batteries mounted under the trunk floor. With an output of 13.4 kWh, this car had a range of 30 miles at a steady 50 mph and was used as a research vehicle for about a decade equipped with different types of batteries and electric motors. Today, it resides in Wolfsburg with 12,721 miles in the clock.

The first official electric Golf was introduced in 1989. The Golf 2 CityStromer was something the public could buy as well after the employees of a few selected companies were done with them. It had a 25 horsepower AC motor which could accelerate it to 31 mph in 13 seconds and a top speed of around 60 mph.

This speed machine came with sixteen lead-gel batteries installed under the boot floor operating at 96 Volts with a capacity of 120 Ah. To keep the range at an acceptable 30 miles, the heating system was burning diesel. Charging could be done with a conventional European 220-Volt electrical outlet. Production ended after 120 units.

Volkswagen Quietly Built A Ton Of Electric Golfs For Nearly 40 Years

Roughly at the same time, Volkswagen also made an electric Jetta that was faster and had a much higher range at 74 miles thanks to sodium-sulphur batteries replacing the lead.

The program was continued in 1993 with the third generation Golf. Siemens had joined forces with Volkswagen and they once again built 120 cars until 1996. The first few CityStromers were sold to regional utility companies across Germany. Battery regeneration was the main news, but this model also used 16 maintenance-free lead gel battery blocks with a total energy capacity of 180 Ampere-hours, operating at 96 Volts.

The synchronous AC motor produced 23 horsepower with a frequency converter and could accelerate the 3,360 pound four-door to a top speed of 62 mph using a four-speed manual instead of a CVT. Range was once again around 55 miles if you kept your foot at 30 mph, but a 220-Volt outlet could fill the batteries to 80 percent in just one and a half hours.

Volkswagen Quietly Built A Ton Of Electric Golfs For Nearly 40 Years

If you look at the 2015 e-Golf's numbers of 115 horsepower, 199 lb.-ft. of torque, 60 in an 10.4 seconds, a top speed of 87 mph and a range of 75 miles with 80% charge reached in just half an hour, you can see that progress is good.

But CityStromers press more buttons, not to mention the Golf GTE.

Photo credit: Volkswagen via Møllerarkivet