Volkswagen AG has revealed a plug-in electric version of the Golf, previewing the zero-emissions driveline and lithium-ion battery technology the company intends to put into a production version of the new car.
VW CEO Martin Winterkorn says the plug-in Golf will go on sale in Germany and other key markets, including North America, in 2013.
Called the Golf Blue-E-Motion, the car forms part of a broad-based electric-vehicle offensive by VW that will see similar versions of the Mexico-built Jetta and the Chinese-market Lavida also going on sale in 2013.
Before they arrive, however, VW plans to kick things off with the introduction of the Up Blue-E-Motion, a car described by Winterkorn as a "city specialist" and previewed in concept form at last year's Frankfurt auto show.
Based on the current sixth-generation Golf, the showroom version of the Blue-E-Motion is planned to form part of the seventh-generation Golf lineup that will begin heading into European showrooms in 2013.
Mounted in the space normally taken up by the Golf's four-cylinder gasoline or diesel engine is a 115-hp electric motor. It drives the front wheels through a new single-gear gearbox developed by VW and known internally as the MQ210.
Electricity for the motor is provided by a lithium-ion battery pack mounted in the middle tunnel of the floorpan, under the rear seat and in the floor of the trunk. With a capacity of 26.5 kilowatt-hours, the battery gives the car a range of 150 km, VW says. The company isn't providing any recharge specifics just yet, although it has called on the German government to push for renewable energy sources.
In a process similar to that introduced on the new Touareg hybrid, the Golf Blue-E-Motion uses a separate clutch that automatically decouples the electric motor on a trailing throttle to provide what Volkswagen describes as a "sailing effect" with little mechanical drag.
VW says it intends to produce a fleet of as many as 500 prototype versions of the Golf Blue-E-Motion for internal testing before the production version arrives in 2013, shortly before the introduction of the Jetta.
In a parallel program, VW is also working on a new range of hybrid models. Initiated with the new Touareg hybrid, it will be widened to include a Jetta hybrid in 2012, using the system from the Coupe Concept revealed at this year's Detroit auto show, as well as Golf and Passat hybrids in 2013, Winterkorn said.
In 2012, VW's Audi division will launch a small production run of the high-performance Audi e-tron sports car.