Production of the Volkswagen e-Golf, estimated to be the tenth best-selling electric vehicle of all time, ended today in Dresden, Germany after a successful run of churning out 145,561 EVs. Its death is not a bad thing — it’s a sign we’re quickly advancing on to much better technology.
The e-Golf died to make way for the brand-new VW ID.3 and ID.4 vehicles. While you could argue those models are a knee-jerk reaction to the VW “Dieselgate” scandal and the sudden market investment in electric cars, the success of the VW e-Golf tells a slightly different story.
The VW e-Golf began production back in 2014. Securing a spot on InsideEV’s estimated top ten list of global best-selling EVs in just about seven years is not a small feat, and it’s a sign that the universally-praised Golf platform does indeed translate well to just about any application you throw at it.
But the e-Golf was just that — an application of the Golf; a combustion-fueled layout retrofitted to work with batteries and electric motors. It was what some would consider a “compliance” electric car, which is a vehicle designed as a testbed for future technology that is not typically good on its own in any regard, and usually helps take some government pressure off the automaker for a while because it looks fine on paper.
The refreshed 134-horsepower 2017 VW e-Golf featured a 35.8 kWh battery pack providing enough energy for 125 miles of range, a big upgrade from the 83-mile range of the original 2014 e-Golf. The 2017 model update was an indication of how VW’s technological progress was advancing, and the willingness to apply those updates after just a couple of years on the market showed the automaker saw the value in offering a competitive EV, not just a compliance model. And it drove great, too.
Let’s also consider the value the e-Golf brought the larger Golf brand. Enthusiasts want the Golf brand to stay alive, despite new models like the ID.3 coming in and taking up some of the same market space. For VW to shop both, the Golf needs to stay relevant. The success of the e-Golf model in its lifespan planted a firm business case for future Golf electrification, like the new-generation Volkswagen Golf GTE, which is as powerful as the new Golf GTI model.
The death of the e-Golf is a good sign. It means one of the world’s biggest automakers is moving on beyond compliance models and into fully developed, purpose-built electric platforms. The future “compliance” cars like the e-Golf promised has now been set, and we’re living in it.
The European-market VW ID.3 is already a sales success in EV hotbed Norway, topping the sales charts month-to-month following its introduction earlier this year. Reviews of the ID.3 claim its a competent, unsurprising EV with plenty of the Golf’s DNA, so it doesn’t sound like the e-Golf has actually gone anywhere.
The ID.3 won’t go on sale in the U.S., but we’re getting a similar crossover built on the same platform dubbed the ID.4 sometime next year. Its launch has already been delayed from this fall to spring.