ElectraGirl: Something Isn’t Right!

Saturday 29th November 2014

Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm, something just isn’t right!

I was so excited to go and test drive the VW e-Golf, it was going to be great, especially as the VW e-UP was so brilliant. The two were bound to be similar – right? Made by the same company so there were bound to be similarities.

So why after test driving the e-Golf, the only thing I have to say is Hmmm?

We arrived at the VW dealer and we were met by the ‘knowledgable sales person’. He is knowledgeable because he has been on the course for the VW electric cars. It’s good that VW offer training to the sales guys, let’s hope he knows something.

He started with, ‘Electric cars are not new to VW, they have been making them since the 1970’s!’

Okay, moving on…

It's White... Seriously?

It’s White… Seriously?

We took a look around the car, it looked really nice, like a VW Golf, obviously! But, it was a white one – you cannot be serious!!!!! It was definitely European VW Golfness, it was what we would have expected from VW. It was black inside, which was nice and had black accents, also nice. There were touches of blue here and there which apparently let us know it was electric – I just thought it looked nice! The look and feel of the car was great.

2015 VW e-Golf - CCS Charging

The 2015 VW e-Golf comes with CCS DC Fast Charging as standard

The sales guy was desperately trying to tell us everything he could. It sounded like he might have just skimmed his notes before we arrived and memorised the lines – he had verbal diarrhoea.

Can we test drive the car now? The sales guy needed to drive the car first – why, I do not know. But, anyway, he drove it out of the car park and put his foot down to show off the ‘torque’, but oh dear that is not how to show off an Electric Car, especially when you then put the brakes on, then put your foot down on the accelerator again. It was too herky, jerky and all I could think was, ‘Is this car going to be sick making?’

Fortunately, after only a few feet of that driving, he pulled over to let my side kick drive. I whispered to my side kick to please drive better than that.

After another round of verbal diarrhoea over the this and the that of how everything worked – I mean seriously, please will you stop talking? We wound the regen up to the max and set off. Once out on the main road, my side kick put his foot down and the car started to pick up speed, it was in no hurry though and moved along in its own time. The car rode nicely, there was no sicky feelings so that was very good, thank goodness that was just the sales guys dodgy driving. As we approached some traffic lights, at red, my side kick took his foot off the accelerator expecting the car to slow down – oh dear, hardly any regen and he found himself having to use the brakes. Hang on, what happened to the max regen that we had selected? The sales guy couldn’t offer an explanation.

The interior of the 2015 VW e-Golf is European EV Golfness

The interior of the 2015 VW e-Golf is European EV Golfness

More driving and still not much regen, well this was kind of worrying. After driving the e-UP which had a super regen mode, I would have expected the same of the e-Golf. It gave that impression but didn’t appear to offer it. I like the car but have to say that the lack of regen is a major negative. We have been super spoilt by the amazing regen of the MINI E, the ActiveE, and now the i3, although it doesn’t have quite as much as the ActiveE did, but it’s still up there.

The 2015 VW e-Golf includes noise fakery

The 2015 VW e-Golf includes noise fakery

Oh and then there was a weird noise that was coming from somewhere in the car. Oh no, they have one of those annoying pedestrian warning noise making thingys. When will they learn that the car is not that quiet and it will make no difference to the majority of peds these days as they just aren’t concentrating as they are often wearing headphones or texting, or both.

The 2015 VW e-Golf includes great cargo space with a removable floor that adds a few more inches

The 2015 VW e-Golf includes great cargo space

The majority of the journey home after test driving the VW e-Golf was Hmmm, Hmmm, Hmmm. I could not think of any words to say. The VW e-Golf was just Hmmm. And I so wanted to really, really like it. I am a little disappointed but at least it didn’t make me sick!!

If they have been making electric cars since the 1970’s then why didn’t they make a car that electric car drivers want to drive? Give me loads of regen, no creep and no weird noise makers.

What do you want from your electric car? Do you want creep, noise generators and no regen?

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  • BEP

    Artificial noise at low speeds is important for pedestrian safety.

    • CDspeed

      There is no evidence of a problem or if a noise would even be useful. Pedestrian accidents have been happening since the car was invented despite all the noise made by gasoline engines. Cell phones are a greater threat to pedestrian safety then quiet cars.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Are you suggesting that accidents that happen today with ICE vehicles can be attributed to them not being loud enough?

      • BEP

        Very funny. I am suggesting that in situations where pedestrians and cars share the same space (read: parking lot), quiet cars can represent an additional danger. Additional, kapish?nAnd I agree that “cell phones are a greater threat”, but that doesn’t mean that smaller threats shouldn’t be taken into consideration. You realize how naive (and dangerous) such an argument is?

        • Michael Thwaite

          My experience has always been that, at parking lot speeds, both pedestrians can change direction and, cars can stop in fractions of a second. I’ve yet to encounter, in five years of daily use, anything that even approached a danger to the pedestrians around me… even when they’ve been unaware of my presence – well, I assume they were unaware, otherwise they were just being annoying walking up the center of the road in front of me!nnIf, we’re talking about pedestrians at 5mph, if the worst happens, perhaps an errant child runs out from between two cars, is it conceivable that this would be a survivable incident? Would it not be possible that the velocity of the child might be greater than the vehicle? Would a noise generator really help?nnI see much greater dangers around; I perceive the danger of gas cars that creep forward without the accelerator being pressed as a greater danger or, filling a parking lot full of gasoline even.nnI maintain that it is not true to say, in the grand scheme of things, that artificial noise at low speeds is important for pedestrian safety.

          • BEP

            First, let me clarifiy that I’m talking about signal sounds for safety only, not fake ICE engine noise for the driver’s “pleasure”.nThen, I’ll stop argue with you. I only add that I thrust scientific research more than your personal experience.

          • Kalle Centergren

            Can you pleas link to said scientific reserch you talk about?

          • BEP
          • Michael Thwaite

            BEP, Thanks for linking to that report. It’s an old report, September 2009 that looks at gasoline Hybrids compared to regular gasoline cars. I consider it a little dated as both ICE cars have become quieter in recent years and I think that I makes a couple of measurement errors: 1. It’s based on reported incidents – something that skews the results. 2. It doesn’t factor location on a grand scale, i.e. are the incidents based in cities or open land? That matters because, I understand that the Prius holds the award for ‘car most likely to crash into you’ but, not because it’s quiet, but because it’s a very popular car in densely packed cities.nnnThe report concludes that accidents involving cars driving at any speed in a straight line are not statistically different – the noise generator on an EV is mounted on the front and is firing forward – the report concludes that such a device is therefore, pointless.nnnThe report concludes that accidents occur when cars are maneuvering or turning, again, not in the line of the noise generator. I would posit that we should be spending our efforts on enforcing the installation of proximity sensors (parking beepers), camera assisted obstacle detection and reversing cameras – i.e. we should be equipping the driver with better tools to observe the surroundings to prevent the problem at source rather than blasting our presence to all around in the hope that they receive the message (not talking on phone, listening to headphones, etc.), determine the source of the noise (not get confused by audio reflections in parking garages) or, simple care.nnnThe good news is that rearview cameras are mandated in the US soon.

  • Richard Glover

    it is probable that the developers of the e-Golf have not only no experience of the Leaf and i3 but also none of the E-up

    • I’m afraid that’s not likely. Engineers voraciously drive other automakers’ cars in order to know what the competition is like. Going one step further, it’s common for automakers to buy and then disassemble their competitors’ cars….nnI should also say that when Pamela and Michael told me about their negative VW e-Golf experience I was rather shocked. Although we’ve yet to write the official TransportEvolved review, both e-Golf cars I’ve driven have had the same kind of level of adjustable regenerative braking as the e-Up, so there’s a potential that there was something wrong with this car if it had lower levels perhaps?

      • Electra Girl

        We are going back for another test drive and might try a different dealer to compare.

        • Phil Read

          Good idea Electra Girl, but don’t hold your breath waiting to find a dealer / salesperson with real knowledge of the e-Golf. Bought my e-Up! in the UK, where there are only 24 EV dealers out of the 208 VW car retailers. Mine was the first private e-Up! ordered in the UK and I spent hours telling the sales guy about the car and some of the package deals that came with it.nnI resolved to find out about how to use it from what I’d learnt. nnLike Martin with his Mitsubishi, I only select regenerative mode when I want to slow down and find it a brilliant way to drive. My big gripe is that when the car has cruise control engaged, it doesn’t automatically disengage when I use any of the first three levels of regenerative braking, which seems to me to be a real design flaw.nnAnyway best of luck with your next test drive, and I really do hope you can find a knowledgable salesperson – maybe a young woman!

      • Michael Thwaite

        I’m going got have to disagree somewhat but I’ll concede that your answer is correct but, I don’t think the people that develop EVs do understand the requirements of the market or understand or even see competitors products. They continue to deliver ICE copies that miss the opportunities open to re-writing the operating rules for motor vehicles. Only Tesla, AC Propulsion and BMW have taken a step back and re-thought the user experience.nnnThe engineers, I suspect, do, as you said but the developers are people in corporate office, spitballing ideas and having lunches. I welcome their input to prove me wrong but, I’ve spoken to a few EV execs now that have never even ridden in a Tesla, let alone driving it day-to-day.nnnYou might argue that the manufacturers that deliver cars with fake transmission creep, no regen and fake engine noises as simply trying to make EVs easy to consume by Joe Normal but, if that were true, where is the switch to flip the car into EV mode? If they had a clue, it’d be there – Tesla has that switch in the S, it can pretend to be an ICE car with creep and no regen though they did stop at fake brum-brum noises.

  • Martin

    Not sure why you are down on white cars, all other colours cost extra with most manufactures at the moment, because of this all my recent cars are white.

    • Electra Girl

      This goes back to the ActiveE days, you will need to check out my blog over on ElectraGirl.com for all of that.

  • Martin

    Also regen is a personal thing, not sure why manufactures don’t follow the lead of Mitsubishi with the Outlander PHEV where you can adjust to suit yourself. I drive with it off altogether most of the time and only push it up when going down steeper hills.

    • Electra Girl

      Tesla also allow for adjustability.

    • My 2013 NISSAN LEAF SL also has “B” mode which offers more regen than normal “Drive (D)” mode. “B” mode gives around 25 to 33% more regen. I use B mode all the time.

  • CDspeed

    Sounds to me like it wasn’t what an experianced EV driver like yourself is used to. Weak regen, and as I’ve noticed before you like a car with a sporty feel to it so there’s your hmmm, hmmm, hmmm feeling. I like a cars that cater to the driving enthusiast too, so it’s sad to hear that it didn’t measure up. The regen however could have been purposely softened by VW because most drivers aren’t used to it, although you and your side kick with your experience prefer it. So the average person may like it, but the experianced electric and German car driver may be turned off.

  • jaap

    To get Max regen on the E-golf you need to pull the Gear shift downeard into “B” which equates to level 4 regen… Can’t say I’m surprised about lack of knowledge on the sales associates; for VW this will remain a small segment and these guys are used to selling jettas…. We bought one a month ago and couldn’t be happier….

    • Electra Girl

      I think I’m going back for another test drive, we did try the B position but still didn’t seem to be much more.

      • jaap

        Hey ElectraGirlnnDrove this morning to Ikea on a full charge and noticed the absense of Regen even in “B” for the first few miles and reminded myself this is due to the battery being full. Maybe you can call ahead and ask for a test drive with a half full battery to make sure you get to experience full Regen…

        • Electra Girl

          The car we test drove was at 40% battery, so there should have been plenty of regen.

  • jaap

    Just to add on the Noise generator, this is mandated in US so not really a differentiator

    • Electra Girl

      The noise generator is not mandated in the US as our i3 does not have one and neither does the Focus EV.

      • jaap

        Hmm I was sure I read this somewhere. Wikipedia mentioned a NHTSA rule effective Sep 2014 (under 18mph) so this could have changed recently? I can’t conclude from the article if this is binding and final though

        • Michael Thwaite

          Last I heard, this summer, was that the automakers themselves were trying to push back to 2018. New cars are rolling off the line without noise pollution built in so, this is one area that I’m happy to support the automakers on.

    • My 2013 Nissan LEAF SL has the “Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians” or VSP and it plays from 19MPH and down. Once I go over 19MPH it turns off by itself.nnIn Europe the LEAF also has the VSP but there the LEAF has an extra button on the dash that allows the driver to disable it.nnI was told by the dealer that sold me the LEAF that it is required in the USA and that’s why we can’t disable it.nnThis taken from wikipedia:nnVehicle Sound for Pedestrians or VSP is a Nissan-developed warning sound system in electric vehicles. The Nissan Leaf was the first car manufactured by Nissan to include VSP, and the electric car includes one sound for forward motion and another for reverse.[15][52] The VSP was also used in the Nissan Fuga hybrid launched in 2011. The system developed makes a noise easy to hear for those outside to be aware of the vehicle approaching, but the warning sounds do not distract the car occupants inside. Nissan explained that during the development of the sound they studied behavioral research of the visually impaired and worked with cognitive and acoustic psychologists, including theNational Federation of the Blind, the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, experts from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a Hollywood sound design studio.[15][61][62]nnNissan’s Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians is a sine-wave sound system that sweeps from 2.5 kHz at the high end to a low of 600 Hz, a range that is easily audible across age groups. Depending on the speed and whether the Leaf is accelerating or decelerating, the sound system will make sweeping, high-low sounds. For example, when the Leaf is started the sound will be louder, and when the car is in reverse, the system will generate an intermittent sound. The sound system ceases operation when the Nissan Leaf reaches 30 km/h (18.6 mph) and engages again as the car slows to under 25 kilometres per hour (16 mph). For the 2011 Leaf, the driver could turn off sounds temporarily through a switch inside the vehicle, but the system automatically reset to “On” at the next ignition cycle. The system is controlled through a computer and synthesizer in the dash panel, and the sound is delivered through a speaker in the front driver’s side wheel well.[15][61][63] Nissan said that there were six or seven finalist sounds, and that sound testing included driving cars emitting various sounds past testers standing on street corners, who indicated when they first heard the approaching car.[15] Nissan removed the ability to disable the pedestrian alert between model year 2011 and 2012 in anticipation of the U.S. ruling to be issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[64]nnThe Leaf’s electric warning sound had to be removed for cars delivered in the U.K., as the country’s law mandates that any hazard warning sound must be capable of being disabled between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am, and the Leaf’s audible warning system does not allow for such temporary deactivation.[65] For the 2014 UK model of the car, the VSP system is enabled by default, though a button on the dash permits drivers to disable the system until the next time the car is switched on.

  • You can move the shift lever sideways to change between three different levels of regen. Did you try all of them Pamela?

    • Electra Girl

      We tried all options. We are heading back for another drive to try them all again, to see if we missed anything.