2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE Gets Lower $29,815 Sticker Price to Cross-Shop Against Nissan LEAF

When it comes to mid-sized electric hatchbacks, the Nissan LEAF electric car is the current choice for most new car buyers thanks to its established place in the plug-in marketplace, its practical EPA-approved 84 miles of range per charge, and its spacious interior.  Since its launch in late 2010, more than 83,00 Nissan LEAFs have been sold to date, cementing its place as America’s number one electric car by a considerable margin.

The new entry-level 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf does away with the LED lights of the SEL Premium model.

The new entry-level 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf does away with the LED lights of the SEL Premium model.

With more electric cars on offer now than there was back in 2010, the Nissan LEAF is now facing far more competition than it once was, with cars like the Volkswagen e-Golf keen to steal some of its market share. In some European markets, the Volkswagen, offering similar specification and range to the LEAF, has won over buyer with its conventional looks and established family name.

But in the U.S., a higher sticker price over the LEAF has seen Volkswagen sell just 2,188 e-Golf since sales started there late last year. For an automaker keen to establish itself in the plug-in marketplace, those figures are far from satisfactory.

Which is why Volkswagen has chosen to drop the entry level price of the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf by introducing a new trim level that’s priced $4,500 lower than last year’s cheapest e-Golf.

Called the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE, the new lower-specification trim level starts at $29,815 inclusive of destination and handling charges and excluding any Federal or state incentive schemes.

CCS quick charging is also removed for the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE -- it's standard on the e-Golf SEL Premium.

CCS quick charging is also removed for the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE — it’s standard on the e-Golf SEL Premium.

That’s far lower than the $36,415 price listed for the SEL Premium version of the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf, and $4,500 lower than the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf Limited Edition. Introduced earlier this year in an attempt to buoy sales, the Volkswagen e-Golf Limited Edition did away with the alloy wheels, heat pump, LED headlights and leatherette interior of the SEL Premium model, but kept the same battery pack and drivetrain, as well as on-board telematics, 7.2 kilowatt on-board charger and CCS fast charge capabilities.

Offered as a limited-edition model, it has now been replaced by the cheaper 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf SE.

Yet while the 2015 e-Golf Limited Edition kept the 7.2 kilowatt on-board charger and CCS fast charge capability, Volkswagen has given the 2016 e-Golf SE just a 3.3 kilowatt on-board charger and deleted CCS fast charging as standard. The deletion of these two important features on top of the trim reductions found in the outgoing 2015 e-Golf Limited Edition makes the Volkswagen e-Golf less practical for long-distance trips, but does allow Volkswagen to undercut the entry-level 2015 Nissan LEAF S.

Priced at $29,860 before incentives, the entry-level LEAF offers an almost identical specification to the 2016 e-Golf SE, but offers a slightly larger load bay area.

Volkswagen expects the 2016 e-Golf SE to arrive at dealerships in the next few weeks, although it’s worth noting that unlike the LEAF, the e-Golf is still something of a limited-market car, with only ten key market areas currently offering the e-Golf at all.


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  • Stephen Noctor

    Making CCS and option is understandable, but 3.3 kW? I really wish pure electric cars could handle the full power available from most public charge stations, not just 3.3 kW, or heavens forbid only 2 kW.

    • Michael Thwaite

      Actually, having experienced DCFC in the wild now, I’m the other way, it’s the DCFC I’d miss! DCFC is what would make this car usable for the occasional longer distance trip and what I’d be on the lookout for when traveling and, 3.3kW is, whilst slow, OK for overnight at home.

      I still believe that on-board charging is a temporary solution until DCFC units are cheap, plentiful and lightweight enough to replace the onboard unit altogether.

      • Stephen Noctor

        Hope so! I’m waiting ‘patiently’ so I can start enjoying DCFC!

  • Alexander Jaeger

    Glad I snagged the SEL when I did, awesome car, too bad the ‘cheaper’ version may sour some peoples perception of this great car with it’s slow charger and stripped out features…. I couldn’t do it, knowing how much more you get with the SEL….

  • dm33

    Their sales stink because of their tag line, “you’ll almost forget it’s electric”.
    Worst tag line ever if your trying to sell a product. It screams something is wrong with electric and we didn’t quite fix it.
    Why not, “you’ll almost forget it’s a VW”

    • Chris O

      A better tag line would have been “You’ll never want a crude, smelly, noisy, dirty, high maintenance, oil powered car again” but that would sort of undermine the products VW is really interested in doing.

      The tag line VW went with shows that plugs are just about compliance for VW.

  • mrwufpack

    Can’t really compete with 3.3 kW and not widely available (only available in 10 states and DC).

    Still just a compliance car, so I’ll continue to support Nissan, who actually cares about electric cars.

  • Mike I

    I think the SE model is a “race to the bottom”. In the end, it’s just a way for VW USA to advertise a low starting price. Just like the Leaf S is today, I expect the majority of SE models on dealer lots to eventually be equipped with the Charging Package (late availability) which restores the 7.4kW on-board charger and the SAE Combo inlet. We don’t know yet how much that Charging Package will cost. It may completely erase the price difference between the 2015 LE (which has the stronger charger and DCFC inlet) and the 2016 SE. I don’t think that many people that are well educated about EVs would choose a SE model without the Charging Package. Those cars without it may sit on dealer lots for a while unless the salespeople try to trick newcomers to go for the low price without explaining the impact of that choice.

    It was also not made clear in this story that the e-Golf SE model is specific to the US market. This is the only Golf model sold in the USA that is assembled in Germany. The rest are assembled in Mexico.