Volkswagen AG, which is aiming for leadership in electric cars, will launch a battery-powered version of its best-seller, the Golf, as its first EV in 2013, a German press agency reported. The move is a U-turn because previously VW said its first EV would be the full-electric version of its Up minicar, the E-Up.
VW will launch the so-called E-Golf first to help it corner the electric-car market ahead of rival carmakers, company insiders told the Deutsche Presse Agentur.
The automaker believes it will be able to sell more E-Golfs than E-Ups, so it makes sense for the E-Golf to be launched first, especially because of the high cost of developing electric vehicles.
VW sold 164,500 Golfs globally in the first quarter, according to company figures.
VW wants to be the leader in hybrid and electric cars by 2018 with a market share of 3 percent within its range of products, CEO Martin Winterkorn said in March. By 2018, VW's aim is groupwide sales of 10 million units.
"We will take the hybrid out of its niche status with our high-volume models. In the future, the heart of the brand will also beat with electricity," Winterkorn said in a statement.
VW will debut a test fleet of 500 electric Golfs next year.
VW launched its Touareg gasoline-electric hybrid SUV at the Geneva auto show last month. The company said that the Jetta hybrid will debut in August 2012, followed a year later by the Passat hybrid and then the Golf hybrid in October 2013.