Volkswagen is getting into the electric car game, declaring “2013 is a key year for electric mobility.”
At the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, it announced it will build electric versions of the up! and the ever-popular Golf.
To deal with range anxiety — that uneasy feeling you get when you realise there’s no tank in your car you can fill with gasoline — VW has included a neat tool in the engine-less cars.
The “360° range” map shows how far you can get before your battery dies. It’s a smart, visual way to represent important information.
In a Tesla Model S or an even more impressive electric car (that doesn’t exist yet), it would be really encouraging. It would prompt relatively exciting sentences like, “Hey, I can drive from New York to Boston without stopping for hours to charge my car!”
But from what VW showed us, there’s little to set the electric up! and electric Golf from other recent, similar e-offerings like the Chevy Spark EV and Ford Focus Electric. They look kind of dinky. They cost thousands of dollars more than the non-electric versions. They take hours to charge. And once their batteries are full, they can go only about 100 miles.
In its release, VW notes that the “range distances work especially well in urban areas and for the majority of commuters.” 80% of German drivers, it adds, drive fewer than 31 miles daily. It says the range levels are “tailored to commuters” — more like commuters are the only ones for whom such limited range is acceptable.
For $US34,000 (the price tag for the e-up!; e-Golf pricing hasn’t been announced), a car should be able to go more than 100 miles, because sometimes places you want to go are that far away.
The range map, while practical, won’t ease range anxiety. It will reinforce it.
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