Volkswagen e-Up / e-Golf | Frankfurt Motor Show 2013

Volkswagen gives its biggest seller, the Golf, a pure electric drivetrain to prove it's very, very serious about the future.

Before we tee off on Golf, I need to mention the other pure-electric cars Volkswagen unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show. One was a light commercial vehicle based on the up sub-compact hatch, called the load-up. I'd have gone with upload in this digital age, myself. As for the electric up hatchback, which we drive in the next issue of the mag, it's really hard to say the name without sounding a lot Scottish and craving haggis. E-up laddie.

Jokes aside, this is serious mum. When a company like Porsche calls hybrids "a cornerstone of our future drivetrain strategy", you know they're here to stay. And when Volkswagen develops an electric Golf - the e-Golf - for mass production and sale, you know it's coming to a shopping centre near you very, very soon.

Not too soon for Australia, though. Volkswagen's local management isn't convinced we Aussies will buy these battery-powered urban conveyances in sufficient numbers, even though they both have a real-world range well into triple figures. For the record, VW claims the e-up's 18.7kWh battery pack is good for 140-160km depending on driving style. The e-Golf, which gets a bigger battery pack, can do up to 190km. And these aren't empty claims; on our e-up test drive, we managed 140km from a single charge - and that's while driving it with little though towards conservation.

Still, it's worth bearing in mind the e-up's European price tag: E26,900. That's around $38,000 in Aussie pesos, or two Nissan Pulsars. No price details for the e-Golf yet, but it won't be cheaper. Maybe VW's Aussie crew are right to be cautious. Until these cars become competitive on price with conventional internal combustion, it's hard to see them really hitting the big time anywhere but with rich, early-adopting tree huggers.

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