Volkswagen Pitches Golf GTE Plug-In Hybrid as a Sporty Electric Alternative to GTI

6 months ago by Eric Loveday 45

Golf GTE Prototype

Golf GTE Prototype

The upcoming VW Golf GTE plug-in hybrid is being pushed by Volkswagen as the sporty electric alternative to the automaker’s GTI.

Golf GTE Prototype Interior

Golf GTE Prototype Interior

Fittingly, it’s been given a name that follows in VW’s tradition of GT + some other letter.

GTE, which stands for GT Electric, features a 148 hp 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and a 107 hp electric motor.  That’s a lot of grunt for the compact plug-in hybrid hatchback.

Here’s a look at the specs:

  • 0 to 60 mph: 7.6 seconds
  • Electric-only range: 31 miles (NEDC)
  • 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery
  • Top speed in electric mode: 81 mph
  • Top speed: 135 mph
  • Total range: 600 miles
  • Recharging time of 2 hours 240-volt 16-amp

Impressed?

The question that remains is related to price.  Will VW price the GTE to sell?

Now that we know that the GTE is being compared to the GTI, we perhaps can zone in on price.  The VW GTI starts at a reasonable $25,000 in the US.  A loaded GTI just barely cracks past $30,000.  We suspect that VW will price the GTE above the GTI, but by how much?

We’re thinking a low to mid $30,000 price tag is reasonable.  Would you be on board at that price?

Source: Autocar

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55 responses to "Volkswagen Pitches Golf GTE Plug-In Hybrid as a Sporty Electric Alternative to GTI"

  1. mustang_sallad says:

    If this thing is better packaged than the rumoured Focus Energi, then yes I would be onboard. Looking at the eGolf and the Focus Electric, Ford has a lot of catching up to do.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Oh…should have added that in. VW says the battery pack will never intrude upon interior or cargo room on any of its plug in vehicles.

      VW is dead set against that.

      The automaker says if it needed to use interior or cargo space for the battery or electronics, then it wouldn’t make a plug-in version of that vehicle.

      Put another way, you’ll never see a plug in VW with battery humps in the cargo hold or battery tunnels in the passenger area.

      1. Foo says:

        Ford has catching up to do?! You can’t compare a pure electric (the Focus Electric) to a hybrid (this Golf GTE).

          1. Foo says:

            Sure, but the OP mustang_sallad’s comment seemed to be a direct response to *this* article, which didn’t mention the eGolf, but rather the Golf GTE. People should understand the GTE is a hybrid, not an EV, so the OP’s comparison was misleading.

            1. pjwood says:

              BTDT, It’s an EV until the engine comes on, ~20mi.

              What I don’t understand is defaulting to watts, and selling on engine spec? How many PHEV owners are dying for their engine to come on?

              1. DaveMart says:

                VW are pitching this as no-compromise for town and high speed long distance travel, so are also making a play about the decent petrol engine.

                After all, German motorists aren’t going to want something that feels sluggish on the autobahn!

              2. Foo says:

                If you want the spec’d GTE performance, I highly suspect the gasoline engine has to come on. That’s why I say comparisons with pure EVs are misleading. This GTE thing is just a gasoline car with an electric motor added… it’s a VW Prius. Meh.

                1. DaveMart says:

                  Of course the petrol engine comes on for the best performance, in sports mode.

                  It is pretty daft to call this a VW Prius though, as the performance of the Prius is nothing remotely like this, which is comparable to the GTi.

                  How many GTi Prius’s have you seen?

                2. Foo says:

                  Thanks for calling me daft.

                  I meant in terms of its *implementation* as a vehicle… it’s like the Prius. Nothing special. When VW makes an actual EV, call me.

                3. DaveMart says:

                  I was calling the comparison daft, not you.
                  If I could count all the daft things I have said or written, I would be a lot more clever than I am! ;-)

        1. mustang_sallad says:

          My original post was of course looking at the Focus Electric and comparing it to the eGolf. Whether it’s a ~24kWh battery or a ~8kWh battery plus a ~150hp engine, packaging all of that into a vehicle without compromising on trunk space is a real challenge and something worth applauding. I’m a Ford fan, I drive a Ford and want to drive a plugin Ford, but so far Ford has performed very poorly in this regard, while VW has done VERy well with the Golf and seems intent on maintaining that record going forward.

          1. Ted Fredrick says:

            I drive the Focus EV and the battery in the trunk is a problem on a daily basis.

          2. DaveMart says:

            VW have spent big bucks on new platforms so that they can fit different drivetrains in without compromising accomodation.

            Ford tell us that they have no intention of even modifying the bodies of their petrol cars, and will continue to shoehorn in BEV and PHEVs into them, for as long as it takes for the extra batteries and so on to take up no more space than in the conventional model!

            But of course their PR department still insists that they are ‘leaders in electrification!’

            VW said they intended to be, to some derision when they had zero models in production and endless prototypes, but they have put their money where their mouth is and a large number of models are due from the group in the next couple of years – all without much compromise in accomodation.

      2. DaveMart says:

        To expand a little on what Eric has said, the Golf PHEV and Golf EV are both based on the new Model 7 platform, which is a bit roomier than the Model 6 currently on sale in the US.

        The idea behind VW spending several billion on 4 new platforms was to make them able to take any drivetrain, from pure electric to PHEV to natural gas without impacting accomodation, which is going to be virtually identical to the E-Golf:

        ‘But the highlight of the e-Golf is not is not its extended zero emission driving range, but that it is an EV that combines all the practicalities, driving performance and ride comfort offered by a standard Golf. This means it still sits five adults comfortably, with a 380-litre boot in the back.’

        http://www.livelifedrive.com/malaysia/news/view/4739/frankfurt-live-volkswagen-e-golf-premieres-in-frankfurt


        More pictures of the E-Golf interior here:
        http://www.livelifedrive.com/malaysia/galleries/view/1830/16/2013-vw-e-golf-frankfurt-gallery

        Expect to have to look at the logo on the side to tell the difference between this and the PHEV.

        1. DaveMart says:

          ‘The upside is that it has astonishing total system range and impressive total system performance and, like the e-Golf, it doesn’t ask any compromise inside the Golf, save for the sacrifice of the bottom tier of the boot’s false floor.’

          http://www.motoring.com.au/reviews/2013/small-passenger/volkswagen/golf/volkswagen-e-golf-and-golf-plug-in-hybrid-2013-first-drive-39906

          Also:
          ‘It shares the e-Golf’s eight-inch touchscreen system and also has the same adjustable brake regeneration abilities, but the major difference (aside from having a 40-litre petrol tank at the back) is that it has a six-speed DSG transmission.

          It’s still a two-pedal operation, though, and the PIH system allowed VW engineers to be even cleverer in their software operations than in the e-Golf. For example, you can ask it to store the car’s electric charge (in case you’re driving from the country to the city) so you can use it later, or you can release it as needed along the way. And it has various options in between. You can even leave it up to the satnav to understand where you need to have ZEV running and where you can use the petrol engine.’

          (ibid)

          Pretty nifty, if you ask me!

          They moan a bit about the DSG gearshift and the ride though.

    2. Boyd says:

      I would rather have a focus energi assuming they have about the same epa specs. the Focus will have a cheaper trim, and the Focus hatchback looks better to me that the one pictured above.

  2. David Murray says:

    So far this sounds pretty good. It has a bigger battery than the Ford Energi products. I’m curious what its 0-60 time is in EV mode only. The Energi products are pretty anemic. But with 107hp electric motor, it might be somewhat faster. But a lot of that will depend on the power inverter and how much power can be drawn from the battery.

    Electric only range of 31 miles is good range for a PHEV, but it remains to be seen what the EPA will rate it as. With the 8.8Kwh battery pack, 31 miles sounds reasonable to me.

    I’d need to see the car in person. I want to see how/where the batteries are packaged. What kind of transaxle is used? Is it a two-motor system like most others are using? Personally, I think Ford’s PHEV products are better looking. And if the price is anywhere above $30,000 then the Volt will have to be taken into consideration as a competitor as well.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      See my comment above in regards to battery packaging. There’s no interior/cargo intrusion of the battery pack in any VW plug in offering.

    2. MTN Ranger says:

      EPA miles will probably be around 20-21. The Volt gets 52-53 miles on NEDC and 38 on EPA.

      1. DaveMart says:

        Using the same proportions that is around 22 miles on the EPA.
        The VW design though uses the same principle as the E-Up.
        Around town it is perfectly easy to use the Eco+ setting, which should return nearer the NEDC mileage:
        http://www.digitalspy.com/tech/news/a546458/vw-e-up-review-all-an-electric-car-needs-to-be.html

        As ever, more aggressive driving will hit the mpkwh!

        1. pjwood says:

          I’m seeing NEDC as rating only the 16, and not 16.5 kwh, Volt. As EPA rated that initial battery at 35 miles of range, MTN Ranger’s supposition that the V-dub will do 20-21 is in proportion.

          1. DaveMart says:

            Fair enough.
            Thanks for the info.

  3. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    What’s the EV-only 0-60?

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      We don’t know that spec yet.

  4. davidw says:

    If there’s an AWD version available, I’d consider it.

    1. DaveMart says:

      There isn’t.

  5. Brian says:

    Hey, it’s worth a test drive! I will be trying to get behind the wheel of one as soon as I can. Any word on when this or the eGolf are coming to the US? Will they be launched nationwide, or only in select markets? Will NY be one of their select markets?

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Both are coming to the US. Arrival is not set in stone yet. eGolf near end of 2014 – PHEV Golf in 2015. Nationwide? Not sure yet.

  6. David Murray says:

    Oh.. I’d also mention.. I can’t stand their instrument display. If it looks anything like the VW E-Up, I’ll have to pass on it. I want something that is digital, or at least mostly digital like Ford’s Energi products. One of the big draws for me to an EV was for the high-tech feel of the car. If it has analog instruments, it feels old-school to me.

      1. Acevolt says:

        All VW interiors have looked the same for the last 20 years, very dated.

  7. pjwood says:

    Honda didn’t, with a smaller battery and a $10,000 premium to the same Atkinson 2.0ltr hybrid. I bet VW tries to make ground, and sells for $30 They’re market share hungry, and are putting in a cheaper 1.4ltr.

    What I don’t know is the rate fixed costs go up for inverter/generator components, as battery size goes down?

    What VW has to do, that can’t be understated IMO is manage NVH. Folks might want to hear the roar of a 918′s 8-cyl, but a buzzy four could be a deal-breaker.

    1. DaveMart says:

      Here is the noise in the E-Golf:

      ‘You turn the key, pull the automatic transmission lever into either Reverse or Drive and away you go, very quietly. Like any other auto (or DSG), it’s a two-pedal car and you push one to go and one to stop. It couldn’t be simpler.

      And it’s also just plain nice. It’s silent, too, with the only intrusions being tyre noise and, as speeds rise, wind noise around the A-pillars. As you slow down, there can be some whine from the electric motor, too, but overall, it’s very quiet.

      Cruising at 60km/h is a 40-decibel exercise, which means it’s about as quiet as a well-insulated bedroom at night time. Full throttle doesn’t make it jump much, either.’

      http://insideevs.com/volkswagen-spills-details-on-soon-to-launch-golf-gte-plug-in-hybrid/#comment-349795

      People expect EV’s to be quiet, so VW have presumably put in extra sound insulation over the regular petrol model to make the EV so.

      The PHEV presumably uses the same noise insulation as the BEV, as you wouldn’t want that to be noisy around town either.

      A side benefit of that would be that it is probably quieter with the petrol engine on than the normal petrol model.

      1. pjwood says:

        Yes, but you’re talking about the E-Golf, an 80 mile pure EV that suffers the same range limitation that keeps many of us out of the Leaf/Fit/Spark/Smart/etc. Hang out, and you’ll hear 120-140+ as the minimum many carry around in their heads.

        We own a DSG. Lots of gears just mean short gears, and lots of shifting, that you feel. CVTs get criticized, but versatile electric motors dispence with that problem, and provide a continuous power flow so long as the battery is big enough to deliver it. These are more reasons why the range-extender concept works better.

        I respect that VW did a lot with the 2.0 diesel, in terms of sound, even putting a diffuser on the undertray. I understand fuel metering even helped take some of the bang out of the compression stroke, but I also think you’d agree 40db is the domain of electric-drive.

        The last piece of math is economics. Small batteries mean many engine miles. With VW’s spec oils, and the foaming 1.8 liter nightmares in the not too distant past, nobody wants to take chances. So, what? $8 a court synthetics? In the summer, I could charge the Volt 6 times on that, and go 250-300 miles, and we haven’t started talking about $$ gas.

        I don’t begrudge guessing a lower price on the VW PHEV, than the Volt PHEV because the math favors more electric miles, and lower maintenance. In the end, the price will be the same, for twice the battery, because the VW will only get half of the $7,500 tax-credit. We still have a ways to go, on those (200k units?).

        I was once so loyal to VW. They won’t make the ergonomic mistakes GM did, but that PHEV formula is only going to fill charging stations with charged cars, and get them mpg points with CARB.

        1. DaveMart says:

          I’m not a fan of DSG myself, and VW’s reliability has nosedived, but I think your characterisation of their PHEVs as a CARB play is deeply mistaken.

          They have not spent billions on new BEV and PHEV capable platforms to comply with CARB, and they remain primarily a European operation, not American, and have extensive interests in China.

          It is clear that they believe in PHEVs, and are giving it a genuine go, even if not all of their choices are perfect.

          As I note below, prismatic versions of the latest Panasonic 18650 batteries instead of the lower energy density ones they use at present should enable them to make both PHEV and BEV cars with around 80-100% more range in the same package.

  8. DaveMart says:

    I have just noticed this:

    ‘Japanese giant, Panasonic, supplies the battery system. Weighing 318kg, the 264 lithium-ion cells sit beneath the boot floor and give the e-Golf 24.2kWh of energy.’

    http://www.motoring.com.au/reviews/2013/small-passenger/volkswagen/golf/volkswagen-e-golf-and-golf-plug-in-hybrid-2013-first-drive-39906

    Now that is very interesting, as Panasonic is the company Tesla buys its batteries from.

    It is pretty difficult to pin down the exact weight of the battery pack for the Tesla S 85kwh model, but it seems to be around 600kg:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2013-tesla-model-s-test-review

    So for the Tesla, the Panasonic battery at the pack level comes in at around 140Wh/kg using 18650 cells.

    VW don’t want to wire those together, so use the prismatic version and get around 76Wh/kg

    18650 commodity batteries tend to be cutting edge for technology, hence the higher energy density, whilst the VWs remain at about Leaf levels for energy density.

    It gets really interesting when you consider that VW now say the mighty Audi R8 E-tron is now back on the table:

    ‘According to AutoCar, what caused Audi to renew the Audi R8 e-tron is new lithium-ion battery technology. Where the original R8 e-tron had a range of 215 km (134 miles) from a 42.4 kilowatt-hour battery pack, the new R8 e-tron will have a 400 km (248.5 mile) range.’

    http://www.plugincars.com/audis-r8-e-tron-electric-supercar-reportedly-going-production-late-2014-129104.html

    So it is obvious what is happening, this is to use a prismatic version of the higher energy density battery in the Tesla!

    Which is great news, as there is no reason that the E-Golfs Golf PHEVs and all the other slew of electric models coming from VW can do so!

    They can put a battery pack with an 80-100% increased EV range into the same model without modifications!

    So the Golf PHEV in a couple of years would have Volt-like EV range, and the E-Golf perhaps 150 miles of real-world EV range!

    Whoopie!

    1. DaveMart says:

      Of course, their E-Golf batteries being Panasonic does not mean that their batteries for the PHEVs are necessarily the same.
      Thinking about it a little more, I seem to remember that the batteries for the Tesla S did not have great power density, as opposed to energy density, which made them fine for a big battery pack but perhaps not so much so for the smaller packs in the E-Golf, which goes double for a PHEV.

      Since they are not going to match the acceleration of a Tesla S, which is in any case a much heavier car, it seems reasonable that the E-Golfs can use the same battery chemistry but in a prismatic form.

      Things are not so clear for the PHEVs though, which will not only need excellent power density but great cycle life as for any given mileage the small pack in them cycles more often, unless of course they do a lot of long runs.

  9. Bill Howland says:

    A basic question please. When is the earliest we can buy ANY Plug in VW group vehicle under $100,000 in the US?

    1. DaveMart says:

      The earliest confirmed date we have is the the Audi A3 E-tron PHEV:
      http://www.audiusanews.com/newsrelease.do;jsessionid=54701EF2508FB1CA5D3C3AE390F97332?&id=3627&allImage=1&teaser=audi-introduces-technologically-advanced-2015-audi-a3-s3&mid=

      ‘ in early 2015, the A3 Sportback e-tron® gasoline electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV).’

      The E-Golf (BEV) is due sometime in 2015, but AFAIK they have not yet confirmed when.
      The Golf PHEV will likely be next, but no dates yet.

      1. Anon says:

        Hmm, I’d love a new retro Electric Beetle, if it didn’t suck. :)

  10. Sparks007 says:

    Should be a direct competitor to the Volt.

    I’ve owned my Volt for 3 years and haven’t seen anything comparable I’d trade it for, until now.

    Almost the same E range on about half the battery capacity. Faster charging. Not bad.

    Looks like they have a larger gas tank.

    Better acceleration. Possibly uses gas and the battery. That’s fine IMHO. Something the Volt team should do. Probably better passing performance too. That’s one thing that needs improvement on the Volt

    Anyone know what the gas mileage will be?

    1. Chris B says:

      I am interested in this as a possible Volt replacement when my lease is up next year too. The range, ride and DSG shift quality will all be concerns. With regard to range, it will likely come down to how much of the 8.8 kw VW uses. The Volt, of course, uses a lot less that it’s 16+ kw pack…10-11 instead. If VW uses all 8.8 that might negatively impact battery life…so will it be less?

      PJ’s comment (“We own a DSG. Lots of gears just mean short gears, and lots of shifting, that you feel. CVTs get criticized, but versatile electric motors dispence with that problem, and provide a continuous power flow so long as the battery is big enough to deliver it. These are more reasons why the range-extender concept works better.”) really resonates with me as the shiftless driving of EV is like a perfect CVT (i.e. none of the engine droning in an ICE CVT). Having said that, not all EVs have a CVT setup to try and multiply torque and I think this contributes to why some of them hit a certain RPM point and acceleration just falls off a cliff. More “gears” might go a along way to addressing this (or a true CVT). Definitely worth a test drive.

    2. DaveMart says:

      Its going to be way less EV range than the Volt.
      It depends on how far you normally drive in a day, as you don’t want a battery bigger than your normal mileage, or at any rate that is not very cost efficient.
      This is only going to get just over 20 miles on the battery, but OTOH the ICE promises a lot beefier performance.

      For me, one of the big differences is in the lack of intrusion into the cabin space compared to the Volt with its big central tunnel.

      If you can put up with the lower EV mileage, this is in many ways more practical and should be nicer to drive, but tastes vary.

  11. Chris B says:

    No way this is $30K though…10 to 1 it is $40-$45K with the A3 E-Tron $5K-$10K more. Every one of the German EV makers is entering the market high, which is a little sad since most are a bit later to the game than Chevy, Nissan, heck even Tesla. By the time the GTE hits the U.S. the second gen Volt will likely be out.