VW Confirms 2017 e-Golf With 35.8 kWh Battery For 186-Miles NEDC Range…And We Explain The Math(s)

Back at the start of the year during a keynote at CES 2016, Dr. Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG, unveiled the Budd-e — the latest in a long line of all-electric concept microbusses designed to evoke fond memories of Volkswagen’s Type 2 microbus and push the brand towards a brighter, more environmentally conscious future. Showcasing a brand-new modular platform (known internally as MEB) the Budd-e promised a future where Volkswagen electric cars boasted a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack capable in excess of 373 miles per charge, as well as a next-generation rapid charge system capable of replenishing the car’s battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in 15 minutes.

The e-Golf Touch is said to preview the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf pretty well.

The VW e-Golf Touch Concept is said to preview the 2017 VW e-Golf pretty well.

At the same time, he presented a new concept car based on the current generation Volkswagen e-Golf called the Volkswagen e-Golf Touch. Featuring a next-generation infotainment system and dashboard complete with gesture control as well as advanced safety features and a larger, longer-range battery pack, we were told the e-Golf Touch concept was a preview of what to expect when Volkswagen launched the mildly refreshed production 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf later this year.

While the e-Golf Touch was touted as a moderate refresh to the existing e-Golf, perhaps with a range around 30 percent greater than the existing 2016 e-Golf, various Volkswagen executives have since promised that the real change to the Volkswagen e-Golf would come in late 2018 when VW launched its eighth-generation Golf family. Then, we were told, Volkswagen would launch a new e-Golf based on MEB with a range in excess of 186 miles per charge.

There's some confusion over the 2017 e-Golf. Let's clear it up.

There’s some confusion over the 2017 e-Golf. Let’s clear it up.

Yet at this weekend’s FIA Formula E e-prix in Berlin, Germany, Volkswagen’s head of electric vehicle development, Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger, told reporters that the upcoming 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf — the very car previewed back in January at CES — would be entering production late this fall with an NEDC range of 186 miles per charge. Essentially a mid-cycle refresh for the model, that range increase will be made possible thanks to a larger, more energy-dense battery pack capable of storing 35.8 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Which raises a question: has Volkswagen really pushed forward plans to build an e-Golf with 186 miles of range per charge by two years?

Not exactly. You see, while previous reports — including our own — quoted Volkswagen executives as stating the 2019 e-Golf would have a range of 186 miles per charge in the real world, we think there’s some cross-communication going on. Given that much of Volkswagen’s Dieselgate crisis is said to have been perpetuated by a lack of cooperation and communication between departments, we can certainly believe something has been lost in translation.

Let’s look at the evidence.

At CES, Dr. Diess casually mentioned while unveiling the e-Golf Touch Concept that the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf would come with a battery pack that is around 30 percent larger in capacity (and range) than the existing 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf.  Since the existing Volkswagen e-Golf has an official battery capacity of 24.2 kilowatt-hours and an EPA-rated range of 83 miles per charge, a 30 percent increase would yield a battery capacity of around 31.46 kilowatt-hours and an EPA range (assuming weight increase was kept to a minimum) of 107.9 miles per charge.

The upcoming 2017 e-Golf will not use the MEB platform.

The upcoming 2017 e-Golf will not use the MEB platform. Its successor will.

We know what you’re thinking: that’s quite a way from the quoted 186 miles being touted by Dr. Tanneberger. But the figure quoted is on the overly-optimistic NEDC test cycle, which tends to give mileage figures that are as much as 45 percent larger than the EPA test cycle for the same vehicle. Take the 2016 Nissan LEAF SV for example, complete with 30 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. On the EPA test, it’s rated at 107 miles per charge. On the NEDC test cycle, the same car is rated as having a 155 mile range.

Which brings us back to the upcoming 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf with 35.8 kWh battery pack. That capacity increase roughly represents a 48 percent increase in battery capacity over the 2016 Volkswagen e-Golf’s 24.2 kWh pack. If we assume negligible differences in battery pack weight, that would translate to a real-world range of around 125 miles per charge on the EPA test cycle (since a 48 percent increase in range on the 2016 e-Golf’s 84 miles would bring us to just shy of 125 miles).

Given that the NEDC test cycle can overestimate as much as 45 percent or more, that ball-park estimated EPA figure we just gave you of 125 miles per charge would come in at 181 miles or thereabouts on an over optimistic NEDC cycle. Add a few percent here and there for rounding errors, and you’re almost exactly where Volkswagen’s engineers are quoting: 186 miles.

Our conclusion? The 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf and its claimed 186-miles of NEDC range will translate to around 125 miles of EPA range, giving real-world figures anywhere from 120 miles to 135 miles in everyday use, depending on driver skill, weather conditions and terrain. That’s far from exciting, but it does put the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf above the 2016 Nissan LEAF and 2017 BMW i3 in terms of range per charge.

Like the recent 2016 Nissan LEAF update, this will be an incremental one.

Like the recent 2016 Nissan LEAF update, this will be an incremental one.

Which leaves us with one loose end to tie up: the claimed 186-miles of NEDC range promised for the next-generation 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf.

Based on what we know of the car, Volkswagen is likely to develop the next-generation e-Golf on the same MEB platform used as a platform for the Budd-e Concept we saw back in January. That vehicle, even with its unaerodynamic microbus body, was said to produce a range of 373 miles per charge on the NEDC test cycle (around 250 miles on the EPA test cycle).

Assuming Volkswagen uses the same capacity battery pack — and there’s no guarantee it will (since the whole point of MEB is that it is a modular platform that can accommodate different battery sizes and drivetrain components) — the next-generation, 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf could conceivably travel in excess of 250 miles per charge on 100 kilowatt-hours of energy storage.

We’ll just have to wait a few more years to find out if we’re right.


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  • vdiv

    This is getting exciting, beefier 120kW motor and larger battery would allow for stronger regen. 🙂

  • Martin Lacey

    It bodes well for an electric future… just about every week one manufacturer or another is announcing their entrance to the BEV market place or a range increase. 🙂

  • “where Volkswagen electric cars boasted a 100 kilowatt battery pack”

    Please Nikki, do us the favor of appreciating the difference between kW and kWh on this very EV-oriented site. Thank you.

  • Chris O

    125 miles is still quite an improvement of course but I do fear cars like the 2017 e-Golf will become known as the “lost generation EVs” as they will have trouble flourishing in the shadow cast by the upcoming generation of 200+ mile EVs.

    • Joseph Dubeau


    • vdiv

      Depending on the use a 60 mile iMiev or even a 35 mile Volt especially with a deployed charging infrastructure could cover a lot of ground. People have put over 200 all-electric miles on their Volt in a single day without a single drop of gasoline burned (my record was 198 miles), an iMiev with CHAdeMO can easily double that. For many users and the right price these cars do work rather well. They could work even better when the batteries are swapped or augmented with higher capacity ones and that will happen preferably with but even without manufacturer support.

      • Chris O

        Don’t see how a Volt could get 200 miles of AER in a single day as it’s not quick charge capable. Even if it were quick charging the battery six time in a day will not help battery life. Improved battery life because of less charging cycles for the same mileage is one of the advantages of a big battery, as is the practicality of not having to plan one’s trip around the range limitations and availability of chargers so much.

        Bottom line: people simply want the range and if Tesla is any indication they will ignore much cheaper variants to get as much of it as possible. In lower price segment people may be more price sensitive but I still expect the “lost generation” EVs to have to be offered at prices that are drastically lower than the 200+ mile generation to convince people.

        Hyundai appears to have already seen the writing on the wall for its own “lost generation” 110 mile Ioniq EV and has announced upgrades to ~140 mile in 2018 and 177 miles in 2020.

        • vdiv

          Range means nothing without the ability to recharge and it means nothing for people that can’t afford a $40k car.

          • Chris O

            Absolutely agree: range is not going to help you if there just is nowhere to plug in if you run out of it. Tesla understands this and makes sure to offer both the range ánd the quick charge infrastructure and the concept sells like hotcakes. GM offers the right car (Bolt) but is not interested in infrastructure, it’s going to be interesting to see how that affects sales compared to Model 3.

            Tesla’s concept is not going to help those that just can’t afford to drop $40K on a car of course but unfortunately that category so far largely ignores lower cost, lower range EVs also ,so I do expect sales for the 125 mile e-Golf to be disappointing.

  • Charlie Payne

    What is the purpose of all that junk under the hood? Why can’t it have space for a frunk like a Tesla?

    • John Livesey

      The Tesla running gear is at the rear. The VW is front wheel drive so no room for a frunk.

      • klod

        lol, what????

  • Compliments Nikki on your sleuthing and analysis. A friend with a dirty diesel is looking to go to an EV from any other brand, so I do wonder if VW will retain any of their former brand loyalty even with these steps…

  • No Sun Beach

    VW is only willing to sell and maintain these in a few select US states so they are not even trying to compete with Chevy and Tesla.

  • Not sure about your range calculations, Nikki. I live in the UK and have a 30KWh Leaf. On UK A roads, driving at just below the speed limit –limit is 60MPH for non-UK types, and I drive at 50-55MPH –I regularly get 120+miles range on long runs. I would think that a 35.8KWh battery, depending on its usable capacity as opposed to the headline figure (30KWh Leaf=26.4KWh usable) I would think that being reasonably careful but not being a mobile traffic jam, you would get close to 150 miles range, depending on terrain, speed and a lighter right foot.

  • Jeff Laurence

    Looks like your calculations are right on. 45% is a perfect integer for the NEDC adjustment. Why use it though if it is do wildly optimistic? Anyway, in my view the 125mi. VW is almost meaningless. They are being eclipsed by the Bolt and probably the 2017 KIA. Even an extra 25 miles to 150 would make the car competitive.