Category Archives: Volkswagen

News and reviews of Volkswagen electric cars (including plug-in hybrids).

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)

Choosing a Charge Point

When buying an electric car it is nearly always worthwhile to get a dedicated charge point installed at home.

It’s more convenient than an ‘occasional use’ or ‘granny’ (13 Amp) charge cable because you don’t need to reel it up and put it away each time.

Home Charging a Renault ZOE with a Dedicated Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)
Charging a Renault ZOE with a Home Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)

It will also be significantly faster because a dedicated charge point can provide more power without the risk of overheating. Also some electric cars, such as the Renault ZOE, don’t come with such a cable and buying one yourself can be very expensive (£500+).

The good news is that the installation of domestic charge points is subsidised by the UK government.

There are 3 decisions to be made when selecting the type of charge point for your car:

  • Tethered or Untethered
  • Connector Types
  • Power Level

 

Tethered or Untethered

There is usually the choice of a ‘tethered’ cable (it is fixed to the charge point) or an ‘untethered’ cable (it plugs into and can be removed from the charge point).

Untethered and tethered charge points (Image: Chargemaster)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: Chargemaster)

Untethered has the advantage of allowing different cables to be connected (for example you can use the same charge point for a Nissan Leaf and a Renault ZOE). However, most people choose tethered because it avoids the inconvenience of connecting a cable whenever you need to charge (usually daily). It also reduces the risk of the cable being stolen.

A charge point with a tethered cable will usually cost more than an untethered one (typically about £50 more) because of the cost of its cable.

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Images: POD Point)

If you choose untethered you will need to use your own cable to connect to the car; it is the same cable that would be used to connect to a public charging point. It may come free with the car, for example the Renault ZOE or the Nissan Leaf with the 6.6kW charge option come with one. Otherwise you will need to buy one (we can advise you on suppliers).

 

Connector Types

All untethered domestic charge points supplied in the UK come with a Type 2 socket on the charge point, just as all public charge points now have (or at least officially should have) Type 2 sockets. Similarly all charge cables have a Type 2 plug at the charge point end.

If the cable is tethered then you need to tell the installer the type of plug you want at the car end. This will depend on the car:

  • Type 1 socket: Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Soul EV
  • Type 2 socket: Renault ZOE, BMW i3, VW e-Golf and Hyundai IONIQ

The Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ connector is the official standard in Europe and should eventually replace the Type 1.

 

Power Level

A dedicated charge point can provide higher powers than a typical occasional use charging cable which will run at 10 Amps, equivalent at 230 Volts to 2.3 kilowatts. The charge will take place at the highest power that both the charge point can provide and the car can use.

There are two common power levels:

  • 16A = 3.5kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 3.3kW, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the VW e-Golf.
  • 30A/32A = 7kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 6.6kW, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV and Hyundai IONIQ. The standard Renault ZOE can use this level, in fact anything up to 22kW.

The higher power reduces the charge time so a typical EV battery will charge in about 8 hours at 16A but in about 4 hours at 32A.

It may be best to install the highest power charge point you can afford; even if your current car can’t use all the power, the next one almost certainly will be able to.

Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen E-Golf, BMW i3 vs Nissan Leaf

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is the latest addition to a growing class of city-friendly battery-powered hatchbacks. We pit it against its rivals

The electric vehicle market is growing, so we’ve collected the Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen E-Golf, BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf together to see which comes out on top.

Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen E-Golf, BMW i3 vs Nissan Leaf - electric vehicle group test (Image: Autocar)
Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen E-Golf, BMW i3 vs Nissan Leaf – electric vehicle group test (Image: Autocar)

A watched EV never boils. More to the point, it doesn’t bleep, flash, pop, ping or do anything else that you might imagine an all-electric hatchback ought to do to indicate a completed charge. Shame. I like the idea of a Nissan Leaf gradually browning, wafting warm toast smells in every direction, before spontaneously hopping three feet into the air like a slice of Warburton’s ready for the butter knife.

It would at least make an interesting spectacle in the motorway services car park in which we’re now waiting. We’ve got four brand-new battery cars lined up in front of Ecotricity’s fast chargers, each suckling almost noiselessly in turn from the national grid, before setting off on an exercise we’ve been waiting a long time to carry out.

It was six years ago that the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV first tested the appetite of drivers all over the developed world for a compact, affordable electric hatchback. It’s an appetite that’s needed plenty of encouragement, but it’s finally growing at something close to the rate those evangelical early market entrants had hoped for. Viewed globally, the market for pure EVs and plug-in hybrids will total more than 600,000 cars this year, up about 50% year on year. Just over half of all those ‘plug-in’ cars sold this year will be wholly electric-powered.

More important, as concerns today’s agenda, the all-electric hatchback market now provides the UK motorist with enough choice to populate a full Autocar group test. Welcome, then, the new Hyundai Ioniq Electric to UK showrooms. And allow us to introduce it to the similarly priced, all-electric rivals against which its stature must be measured: the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf and BMW i3.

Having followed the early-stage development of these zero-emissions pioneers, we’ve become used to the strengths and limitations of electric propulsion at the affordable end of the ownership spectrum. An £80,000 Tesla may already offer the sort of cruising range it takes to replace internal combustion in a car for almost any occasion or journey, but a £25,000 Leaf doesn’t – and probably won’t for a few years yet.

Where affordable EVs have already shown strength is when performing as responsive, relaxing, cost-efficient short-range transport, in the role typically served by the second car in a family. And that’s how we’re going to test today’s field. We’ve plotted a route across north London, taking in some of its most congested streets and winding up at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Newham. We simply want to know which of these cars would serve you best with predominantly urban use in mind.

Before we set off, time for a quick poke around our newbie: the Hyundai Ioniq. The Leaf, i3 and e-Golf are well known to us, all having been the subject of Autocar road tests over the past few years and all serving customers looking for slightly different things from their first EV. And rather than competing for exactly the same customers as any of its new-found rivals, the Ioniq definitely adds to the breadth of choice in the market.

Read more: Autocar

Volkswagen ID Concept electric car (Image: VW)

Hybrids ‘likely to be a passing phase’ as EV technology advances quickly

Hybrids are likely to be a passing phase in car technology that will be surpassed by electric vehicles in a matter of a few years, predicts Glass’s.

The vehicle data provider says that EV technology is advancing so quickly that a new hybrid vehicle being bought today could be effectively obsolete by the time it reaches the end of its normal life.

Volkswagen ID Concept electric car (Image: VW)
Volkswagen ID Concept electric car (Image: VW)

Rupert Pontin, director of valuations, said:

“Hybrids are designed to solve two of the problems that EVs have faced in recent years – high cost and low range.

“However, there are very clear signs that these issues are being resolved very quickly. For example, the revised Renault Zoe announced at Paris Motor Show has a 250-mile range and costs £17,000.

“Similarly, the new battery in the BMW i3 lasts around 190 miles and Volkswagen is claiming that its ID, which will come to market in 2020, will go up to 373 miles between charges and be priced competitively.

“The fact is that vehicles such as this effectively remove the rationale for hybrids. Within a few years, hybrids could be seen as little more than a curiosity and this will undoubtedly affect their values.”

Read more: Fleet News

2017 set to be landmark year for electric cars

The future is bright for electric cars in 2017, as new figures released recently indicate that more than 100,000 plug-in cars could be on UK roads by the middle of this year.

This prediction is fuelled by record numbers of electric car registrations in 2016, with volumes rising 29% on the previous 12 months. In fact, every quarter of 2016 produced year-on-year growth, with the total number of EVs on UK roads now at more than 87,000.

More and more UK drivers are becoming switched on to the cost-saving benefits and convenience of electric motoring, which resulted in 36,907 electric vehicles being registered between January and December last year, a number that’s set to grow this year.

The ever-increasing selection of electric cars available in the UK is another factor aiding the rise in the market. More than 35 plug-in models are available at the moment, which is four times the number on the market just five years ago.

Plug-in hybrids were particularly popular in 2016, as registrations rose by over 40%. Models such as the BMW 330e, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron proved to be among the most in-demand.

Source: Go Ultra Low

2017 Volkswagen e-Up review

What is it?

The Volkswagen e-Up is the pure-electric version of VW’s popular Up city car. When it was launched the EV market was still in its early stages, but now, three years on, the alternative-fuel market is bigger and continuing to grow.

The e-Up has received a light update to keep it fresh, but nothing mechanical has changed. The main alterations are a revised front bumper and rear light clusters, and aside from that it’s all very familiar. As such, its claimed range stays at 99 miles and it’s powered by the same 18.7kWh lithium-ion battery pack that generates 81bhp and 155lb ft of instantly available torque. For a full charge, expect a three-point plug to take around nine hours, although a fast-charger will take 30 minutes to provide 80%.

Although electric cars are growing in popularity, the usual caveat applies: the compromises that their limited range and our still-limited infrastructure bring means they have to suit your lifestyle. Still, if you’re after a city car, you’re unlikely to be covering big miles, so is the e-Up the ideal electric car?

What’s it like?

This is no standalone electric model like the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3. Being based on the five-door Up means the e-Up is very familiar in appearance and dynamics.

That’s no bad thing. The Up is one of the best city cars you can buy, so it’s a great grounding to base an electric car on. With instant torque, off the line the e-Up feels much sharper than its petrol-powered equivalent, and its silent cruising makes it relaxing to drive through congested cities.

Read more: Autocar

Making of: Gran Prix

Go Ultra Low enlists a Top Gear legend for the ‘Gran Prix’ challenge and reveals Britain’s most passionate female car fan aged over 60.

In this video we go behind the scenes as our winner, Helen Mary Jones, stars in her very own car review video at the iconic Brands Hatch racing circuit – with a little help from motoring TV presenter Quentin Willson.

Helen swapped her own Aston Martin DB9 sports car for a pure-electric Volkswagen e-Golf for the day, but can electric cars be just as fun to drive – and which was quicker off the line?

Top 5 best Electric Cars

Electric cars are getting better all the time, making them a more realistic proposition for more people. These are currently our experts’ favourite five

More and more people are coming to realise that an electric a car is a genuine proposition for 21st-centrury motoring.

With increasing amounts of us living in the city or the suburbs, and never needing to undertake long journeys by car, the relaxing drive and low running costs of an electric car are making them all the more attractive.

Of course, most are not without their limitations – most have a real-world range of no more than 100 miles; they’re comparatively dear to buy; and, you need easy access to charging facilities – but as long as you can live with those restrictions (and more people than will admit it, can…), an electric car is a very sensible choice.

The question is what to buy, but with more and more makers selling electric cars, you can find pretty much whatever you want – from city cars to sports cars, and all points in between. And, if you are tempted, let our experts guide you through the best of the current crop.

Nissan Leaf – the British-built one

More than any other, the Leaf is the car that convinced a sceptical public that an electric car was something to consider; and, even now, it’s a compelling proposition. Around town – which is the natural habitat of an electric car – the Leaf is smooth, comfortable and near-silent. Even in the heaviest traffic, the way it drives is supremely relaxing. Above all, apart from the range, there are no sacrifices to make: the Leaf is a decent five-seater, while the boot will take plenty of luggage. As with any electric car, everyday motoring can cost just pennies, and to cap it all, it even costs less to service than a comparable Pulsar.

Renault Zoe – the (relatively) cheap one

One of the main attractions of electric cars is that they cost so little to run, but the trouble with so many of them is that they cost so much to buy. Not so the Zoe, which is yours for little more than the price of a decently-specced Clio. The beauty of it is that, despite the fact that you’re not spending a million dollars, the Zoe is still a very smart-looking little thing. The blue accents on the outside are complemented by a hi-tech interior; and, as the car was designed from the ground up as an electric car, the batteries don’t limit the car’s practicality too much. It’s good to drive, too, and the icing on the cake is a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.

Read more: Autotrader

Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid prices and specs announced

Prices and specs for Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid Passat GTE have been announced; it costs from £36,525 before a £2500 government grant

vw_gte_phev_vw

Volkswagen’s Passat GTE plug-in hybrid will arrive in showrooms this month, costing from £36,525.

Four models are available – two saloons and two estates. The prices exclude a government plug-in car grant of £2,500.

When this grant is applied, costs come down to £34,035 for the GTE saloon. The GTE Advance saloon costs £40,180, or £37,680 after the grant.

The Passat GTE estate costs from £38,075 (£35,575 with the grant), while the GTE Advance estate is £41,730 (£39,230).

All models are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, which give a combined output of 215bhp and 295lb ft of torque.

The car runs by default on electric-only ‘E-mode’, with 113bhp, 243lb ft of torque a range of up to 31 miles from a lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear seats.

The petrol engine kicks in when the battery is depleted. At this point, the Passat GTE runs as a full hybrid, recharging the battery using kinetic and braking energy. The driver can also select Battery Charge mode to save up electric power, for example for electric city driving at the end of a petrol-powered motorway journey. GTE mode runs both systems in tandem.

With both petrol and electric power engaged, the Passat GTE will go from 0-62mph in 7.6sec and reach a top speed of 140mph. It comes as standard with a six-speed DSG gearbox that features a third clutch, which disengages at the appropriate time to harness kinetic energy and increase efficiency.

The Passat GTE can have its battery charged from a home electricity supply in about four hours, 15 minutes, or using a dedicated 3.5kW wallbox in around two and a half hours.

The specifications of the Passat GTE are generous, and based on the Passat GT. Standard equipment includes LED head and tail lights, Alcantara and leather seats and a GTE-specific blue-stitched gear knob, as well as adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity. The Passat GTE also comes fitted with VW’s Car Net e-Remote system, which lets you control several functions from a smartphone, such as the locks, climate control and charging settings.

The GTE Advance model adds features that include an 8in Discover Pro sat-nav screen, a digital Active Info Display dashboard, LED premium headlights and Nappa leather upholstery.

Visually, you can spot a Passat GTE by its C-shaped LED running lights and a blue line running across the radiator grille, as well as a redesigned front bumper and 18in alloy wheels.

Source: Autocar

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf: real-world range vs. EPA estimates over six-month test

The reality of range—reproducible, real-world daily-driving range—is one of the most important concepts you have to become familiar with if you’re new to electric vehicles.

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

Generally speaking, the faster you drive, the quicker you accelerate, and the more accessories (like climate control) you use, the more energy you consume.

But the interface plays an especially important role in how much of the range you use. Each EV has its own way of anticipating the number of miles you have left at any point of battery charge—sometimes optimistic then revisionist, other times surprisingly linear, accurate, and confidence-building.

Our long-term 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf landed soundly in the latter group. Its gauge cluster and trip computer unfailingly suggested a remaining range that was maybe slightly less than what was actually remaining, and nearly as linear as a fuel-range estimation for a gasoline car.

It helped us have confidence in the e-Golf’s range, as we quite easily got more than 80 miles of charge in most year-round driving conditions—and in many cases, a lot more.

The test e-Golf had a 24.2-kwh battery pack and was EPA-rated at 83 miles of total range; but the entire time, that seemed conservative.

Read more: Green Car Reports

Volkswagen Awards Success – Passat GTE

Volkswagen is beginning 2016 with victories in a brace of influential industry honours.

news_c-passat-estate_gte_vw

Today (13 January) Volkswagen is receiving two trophies at the renowned What Car? Awards in London with success for both the Passat Estate GTE (Best Electric Car) and new Touran (Best MPV). Meanwhile, the Volkswagen up! takes a ‘price point’ honour in the publication’s Best City Car class.

The class wins in the respected automotive awards – now in their 39th year – continue a positive start to the New Year for the brand in the UK which began with a category victory for the Golf R in The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Cars.

Scoring a win in the Electric Car ‘Best Buy £20,000-£40,000’ category, as well as taking overall honours in the Electric Car class, the expert What Car? judges said of the Passat Estate GTE:

“This really is the kind of hybrid you could use every day without even thinking of it as an EV.

“The Passat GTE mixes a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor and VW’s six-speed DSG automatic gearbox, and it shifts between the two power sources smoothly. The interior quality is every bit as good as on other Passats, there’s enough room for five adults to sit in comfort, and our preferred edition, the Estate, has a boot that’ll take all but the largest loads.

“Best of all, the Passat Estate GTE makes a great potential company car choice thanks to its official CO2 emissions of just 39g/km and a benefit-in-kind tax rate of 5%. It’s easily the best family hybrid we’ve seen to date.”

Awarding the Passat Estate GTE overall honours in its class, the judges added:

“It feels like the sort of executive car that you could drive to and from work on electric power, then turn into a carry-all family car to travel the length of the country at weekends. It has space, a beautifully finished cabin, and succeeds in integrating its technology so well that you needn’t even be aware that it’s there.”

Source: VW