Volkswagen says it will substantially expand the range of its e-Golf when a face-lifted version of the battery electric hatchback goes into production in December.
That would close the performance gap that has opened up with the freshened BMW i3 that goes on sale in the U.S. in August.
Officials say the e-Golf will be able to travel 186 miles in the European driving cycle on one charge, up from 118 miles previously. Under normal driving conditions the battery should be sufficient for occupants to travel 124 miles, VW says. That is identical to the new i3
"There's a competitor from Munich that can just about reach that, only ... theirs weighs 300 kilograms [661 pounds] less," said Thomas Lieber, head of complete vehicle development for the VW brand's electrified car range, referring to BMW's i3.
The Golf is VW's best-selling model, with nearly 1.1 million built last year. But the electric version accounts for only about 1 percent of all Golf volume.
The U.S. is the biggest market for the electric Golf, with 47 percent of the model's production destined for America compared with 37 percent for Norway. This year, Volks-wagen managers expect to build 12,140 e-Golfs in Wolfsburg, Germany. It is assembled bumper-on-bumper alongside conventionally powered sibling model to keep a ceiling on costs.
Volkswagen says the new e-Golf battery will have nearly 50 percent higher energy density thanks to an identical improvement in the charge its prismatic lithium ion cells can carry.
Despite the more powerful cells, Lieber said the recharging time is unchanged because the charger can now feed as much as twice the energy into the 35.8 kilowatt-hour battery as before.
While VW expects greater energy efficiency over the current 12.7 kWh required for 62 miles, officials did not quantify the improvement.
The car will be capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 9.2 seconds and reaching a top speed of 93 mph. The current e-Golf's 0-to-62 mph time is 10.4 seconds and its top speed is 87 mph.
While a price has yet to be announced, it now costs 34,900 euros ($39,000), just 50 euros shy BMW's rival model, even though the electric Golf is slightly slower in the sprint than the less roomy i3.
VW officials say that, unlike, BMW, the brand will not continue offering the original version alongside the longer-range sibling.