Volkswagen's first battery electric vehicle of the modern age is the e-Golf, a sporty compact hatchback with a rated range between 83 and 125 miles. It was released in the US in 2015 as part of a larger redesign of the iconic Golf line, which has been in production since 1974. Although VW moved away from the e-Golf after the 2019 model year to focus on the new ID series, drivers love the Golf's legacy style, fun drive, and low maintenance ownership.
In 2015, the e-Golf was an attractive option to the Nissan LEAF, which looked distinctly like an electric vehicle, and the Model S, which was at a much higher price point. As the years wore on and similarly priced models with much higher ranges hit the market, drivers remained loyal to the Golf name and inconspicuous body design. The 2017 e-Golf had a range of 125 miles and offered faster charging options, and DC fast charging came standard on all vehicles starting in 2019.
The VW e-Golf comes in three trims, depending on model year. When first released, it was offered in a base level Limited Edition and upgraded SEL Premium, but by year two the Limited was renamed the SE and the price was dropped. In later years, all three trims were offered, with SE being the base level and SEL Premium the top trim.
Options for the upgraded trim levels include a Driver Assistance Package, featuring automated parking, collision warnings, and lane departures. In earlier models, a 7.2 kW on-board charger and DC fast charging were also offered with upgraded trims or as add-ons. Battery size is independent of trim for all model years of the e-Golf.
The VW e-Golf is an all-electric vehicle, running solely on power provided by a high voltage lithium ion battery. It has zero tailpipe emissions. Battery electric vehicles hold their range fairy well, and a used e-Golf can see available ranges between 40 and 195 miles.
Range is how many miles a car can go when fully charged. Like with an ICE car, factors like outside temperature, driving conditions, and driving style can affect the efficiency and energy needs of the car. Battery powered cars are most efficient when the temperature is warm, terrain is flat or downhill, and the car can use its regenerative braking feature to recharge the battery. So, while the EPA rates vehicles with a single "range," this number is really an estimate under a set of highly controlled conditions. Short term range changes tend to reflect external factors, while permanent range effects point to vehicle degradation and age.
Read more about how temperature affects range.
The VW e-Golf has been on the road since 2015 so it has 6 full years of data to understand the range degradation with time. However, we have limited e-Golfs in our Recurrent research community so some of our findings are preliminary pending more data.
In the Recurrent data set, we track the maximum achievable range at 100% charge for vehicles in different locations and conditions. We have seen vehicles with a maximum range as low as 40 miles and as high as 195 miles. Of course, older vehicles have lower original range estimates and generally lower current ranges, as their battery capacity declines with age and use. First generation vehicles, from 2015 and 2016, tend to have used ranges between 40 and 116 miles. Second generation e-Golfs, from 2017 onwards, generally have used ranges between 102 and 195.
The main ways to measure vehicle efficiency, or energy use per distance traveled, are MPGe and miles/kWh. You may see these values on new car stickers or on dealer listings. The MPGe for the e-Golf is 116 MPGe for the 2015-16 years and 119 MPGe from 2017 on. In terms of miles per kWh, this translates to 3.45 or 3.57 miles per kWh. This gives the e-Golf a competitive efficiency - even though it has a fairly small battery capacity, it makes the most of the kWh it does have.
Our community of e-Golf drivers give their car a Charging Score of 4.12/5, meaning that most drivers are fairly satisfied with their charging experience. While the e-Golf has a fairly small battery for an all-electric vehicle, it can only gain 4 miles per hour of charging on a standard, household 110V plug. This translates to around 20 hours to charge for an early model year almost 37 hours for the newer ones. A level 2 charger can refill the e-Golf in around 4 - 7 hours, depending on battery size and speed of on-board charger. If charge time is important, it is strongly suggested to find an e-Golf with the 7.2 kW charger. Most e-Golfs are compatible with DC fast charging and can refill an empty battery to 80% in about 30 minutes with a maximum charge of 50 kW.
The e-Golf uses lithium ion batteries - a power dense, high voltage technology that works well for storing a lot of energy. Although the lithium ion batteries in an EV are much stronger and more durable than those in your phone or laptop, they will still start to lose power and capacity with age and use. Battery degradation happens because of two things:
a) the age of the battery (also known as 'calendar' aging)
b) how the battery is used, charged, and stored
Calendar aging is inevitable - it starts the moment a battery is made. However, there are things that can cause a battery to degrade faster. The way an EV is charged and stored will impact the rate of battery degradation, so there are ways for an EV owners to slow the process. This discussion is covered in a research article on battery degradation.
The battery size, or battery capacity, is measured in kWh. The e-Golf was originally released with a 24.2 kWh battery, which was upgraded to 35.8 kWh in 2017 models. These are pretty small batteries, but the e-Golf's efficiency means that the small capacities can carry the car for a decent range.
Volkswagen offers an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty against defaults or extreme degradation in the high voltage battery. The warranty ensures against degradation beyond 70% over the coverage.
This page shares VW e-Golf data collected from 82 drivers across the United States. Each of the 339 thousand miles driven helps to draw a picture of the driver experience. We polled our community to find out what they love and what they could leave with their vehicles.
Most liked features:
"The car is amazing in general. It is a Golf after all: regardless of the generation, it has always been a fun and reliable car. I love it."
"I was spending about $600 a month in fuel commuting 60 miles a day to and from work, now I charge for free at work, and maybe spend $20 a week at home/fast charging."
"Love the comfort and reliability for the price as a used EV. Fits our family of four with three dogs comfortably and is so cheap to run.
"Looks like a regular golf. Materials are nice and has the classic VW door closing thud. 6 years and no real noticeable battery degradation.
Room to improve:
"No battery preconditioning, Total range drops after DC Fast Charging due to non-balancing charge, takes a couple of level 1 or level 2 charges to restore balance."
"Range can be an issue on hot, cold days and after multiple long trips
"Their software engineering skills lag the competition
"My commute is rather hilly, so the onboard estimates are quite off as the miles available aren't really accurate when adjusting to the incline/decline of the drive.
The Green Score for the e-Golf is GREAT. Like other battery electric vehicles, it has no tailpipe emissions. If driving electric isn't environmentally friendly enough for you, you can lower your impact by buying used and avoiding the production and shipment of a brand new car. Finally, you can really up your green game by powering your EV with renewable energy for the ultimate clean machine.
The e-Golf, descendant of the VW Golf line, was designed to be an affordable and practical car with a fun design and drive. The original purchase price in 2015 started at $33,450 and was lowered to around $30,000 in later years. Options and upgraded trim add to this MSRP. New e-Golfs were also eligible for the $7,500 federal tax incentive when still available.
The used cost of an e-Golf doesn't vary as much as for some other brands since there are relatively fewer add-ons or upgrades and the range doesn't change that much over its production years. Most used vehicles are between $14K - $24K with occasional cars as low as $11.5K and as high as $30K. Newer cars will command a higher price while older ones are reliably priced under $15K.
Cost per range mile is one way to look at the value of an EV across different makes and models. It helps a shopper understand how much of the purchase price is really going towards range, as opposed to amenities, comfort, or brand name. The e-Golf has a cost per range mile of $130 to $215.
Recurrent uses data from the AFDC to determine the range of annual charging costs for the e-Golf. The highest electricity price we use is in Hawaii and the lowest in Louisiana. We assume an average driving pattern of 34 miles a day, 5 days a week, 49 weeks a year with 25% highway driving, plus a few additional highway road trips. For a 2017 e-Golf, this puts the annual charging costs between $320 - $1023. More detailed and personalized values can be calculated at the link above.