CBVC Business Development Manager Richard James puts the new all-electric version of Volkswagen’s best-selling car through its paces – and finds that the new e-Golf could just be a game-changer.
“After spending time in the past in franchise dealerships evaluating the electric cars in their range, I must admit that they didn’t exactly set my pulse racing. For too long, electric cars have tended to look quirky and different.
“To my mind, for EVs to take off, they need to look like a “normal” car which just happens to be powered by a battery but, in the main, manufacturers have tended to ignore this simple fact.
“However, fast forward to 2019 and I recently had the opportunity to put a Volkswagen e-Golf through its paces for a few days.
“Now, this is a fully electric vehicle but one that looks exactly like the ever-popular Golf that has sold millions of units down the years. The car itself is based on what was the SE Nav, so the standard specification comes with satellite navigation, DAB radio, adaptive cruise control, front and rear sensors as well as folding door mirrors, to name but a few.
“This all-electric version, therefore, had many redeeming qualities over previous electric cars I have driven, with the biggest plus point for me being that it just looked like a proper car!
“The car was delivered fully charged and showing a range of 135 miles. The official WLTP figures indicate from full to empty the e-Golf would go slightly further at 144 miles. But even with real world testing, our feeling is to still take a chunk off any number published.
“My own commute, which makes up the bulk of my driving, is a 50-mile round trip, so realistically I would be looking to charge the e-Golf every two days. This, of course, is assuming the range was a fair reflection and I didn’t have to drive like Miss Daisy to make sure it did what the trip computer said!
“My first drive home was impressive. I’ll admit that I did drive a little steadier than usual as the thought of the Golf’s range was in my mind. But I was home only five minutes later than usual but with the knowledge that the range hadn’t altered that much at all.
“The journey into work next day was very pleasant. The e-Golf offers a very refined and, as you’d expect, silent drive. My journey consists of a stretch of country roads which enabled me to use the brake mode on the transmission, which gives you regenerative braking putting charge back into the battery.
“On arriving at work, I had done a total of 50 miles, but the range had only dropped from 135 to 106, which gave me a great deal of reassurance and no range anxiety!
“By my next journey I was beginning to really enjoy the e-Golf, reinforced by thoughts of how much diesel I’d have been using in my Volvo S60 and the savings I was making, even in this small test.
“For my final journey home, I knew I needed to get back quicker than usual as I was on a tight schedule, so I drove the car much harder than previously – and again the e-Golf didn’t disappoint. The pick-up is very fluent and responsive with handling you would normally associate with its diesel counterpart.
“Overall, I would say the driving experience of the e-Golf is very positive. But where it really comes into its own is when you assess the financial aspect of it for both the business and the driver.
“From April 2020, fully electric cars are charged at a zero rate for Benefit in Kind tax. Based on my experience, this could be a saving of £125 to £250 a month depending on whether you fall into the 20% or 40% tax bracket.
“My monthly fuel spend is currently just over £200 a month and, although it is difficult to calculate exactly, my initial estimate is of an electric bill of around £60 a month to keep the e-Golf sufficiently charged – which represents another huge monthly saving.
“From the company’s point of view, my current lease is virtually identical to what it would presently cost for the e-Golf a month but as well as the obvious “green” factor there is also a sizeable annual saving in the Class 1 National Insurance that CBVC would pay as a result of me having a zero emissions car.
“These savings are potentially huge and, and in my opinion, the e-Golf would make a very good company vehicle for me going forward.
“There are of course some caveats to all things electric. This car works if it is right for the individual and their typical usage. Our family also has a petrol car for longer journeys as, with three children, holidays and visits to relatives, a range of 135 miles may not be practical.
“The other consideration is charge times. If you’re happy to plug in next to your toaster, you could be looking at a whopping 13 hours to charge your electric car.
“Help is at hand here, though, and, thanks to government support, you can currently have a 3.6kw charger installed in your house, assuming you have off-road parking, for £279 which would charge your e-Golf in eight hours.
“But for an additional £80, a 7kw charger would get you up to capacity in just four hours, and would be well worth the money in my view.
“In summary, I would say if the car looks right and the range is right for you, the time for electric cars to spark your attention – and save you money – could well be right now.