The Environmental Protection Agency has completed its testing on the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf, and the results were worthy of a headline for the German automaker. Rated at 116 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) combined, the new e-Golf takes the top spot among compact cars for sale in the United States. VW’s first electric vehicle in the U.S. did not break any records in range, however. In fact, given its MSRP and the growing competition in the EV segment, it is unclear what precise niche it will fill on the market.
Here is a look at the 2015 e-Golf as it stacks up against four electric vehicles in efficiency, range, power, and price point. Prices included are before state or federal EV rebates and do not include destination charges.
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf ($35,445)
While the e-Golf bested the competition in the compact and (per EPA) “midsize” class, there weren’t many pretenders to the throne. At 126 miles per gallon equivalent in the city and 105 miles per gallon equivalent on the highway, the EPA estimates it will cost $0.87 to drive 25 miles in an e-Golf. The compact EV was rated at 83 miles in total range, which keeps it out of the top five among electric vehicles in production.
Its 116 miles per gallon equivalent makes it the most efficient compact vehicle in the U.S. Power stands at 115 horsepower and 199 pounds-feet of torque. Standard equipment includes a fast charger, heated seats, and rear-view camera. Sales begin “in select states” in November.
2014 Ford Focus Electric ($29,170)
The Ford Focus Electric has ruled the compact class in efficiency for years at 105 miles per gallon equivalent combined, which breaks down to 110 miles per gallon in the city and 99 miles gallon in highway driving. Since being bumped out of the top spot by the 2015 e-Golf, it’s worth a look seeing the two cars stack up otherwise. An electric Focus rates at 81 miles of range (2 miles behind the e-Golf), while the cost of driving 25 miles comes to $0.96 (a difference of $0.09).
A 2014 Focus Electric has a noteworthy advantage over the e-Golf with 143 horsepower and comparable torque quotient of 184 pounds-feet, but the biggest selling point for compact EV consumers may be Ford’s recent price cut on the Focus Electric. As of October 23, dealers were selling the car below $30K including delivery charges — some $6,000 below its most recent MSRP and $10,000 below its 2013 price.
2014 BMW i3 ($41,350)
The ranks the BMW i3 in the subcompact category, making it the smallest electric vehicle on this list. At 124 combined miles per gallon equivalent, the i3 is the most efficient car for sale in the U.S. and could cost as little as $0.81 to drive 25 miles. Fueleconomy.gov estimates driving the i3 could save someone $8,000 over five years when compared to the average (23 miles per gallon) 2014 vehicle.
BMW’s first electric car is by no means a star in driving range at 81 miles. On the other hand, its 137 miles per gallon city equivalent make it an incredible car for urban dwellers. At 170 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque, it bests both the Focus Electric and e-Golf on power, though its price point and lack of cabin space make it the wrong fit for many consumers. In terms of sustainability, BMW pulled out all the stops on the i3 from production to road performance.
2015 Nissan Leaf ($29,010)
It is clear what Ford had in mind by dropping the price of the Focus Electric where it did. The Nissan Leaf, the best-selling electric vehicle in the U.S., has provided exceptional value for consumers with its rating of 114 miles per gallon combined and 84 miles of range. Power specs of 107 horses (low) and 207 pounds-feet of torque (high) should deliver what most consumers need in this vehicle class.
Volkswagen’s new entry to the segment falls in line with virtually every spec of the Nissan Leaf except price. At $6,345 less than than the e-Golf, the Leaf is likely to continue appealing to practical EV drivers.
2015 Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive ($41,450)
Rounding out the midsize class is the third offering by a German automaker, the 2015 Mercedes B-Class. This car offers an option for EV consumers that prize power above all else. Sporting 177 horsepower and 251 pounds-feet of torque, drivers will still feel like Mercedes is behind the Electric Drive sedan. Though its electric range is decent for the segment at 87 miles, the B-Class electric doesn’t crack the top 10 in the U.S. with 84 combined miles per gallon equivalent (trailing even the mighty Tesla Model S).
Consumers may see the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf as a bargain compared to the luxury German entries, but the Nissan Leaf and now affordable Ford Focus Electric deliver almost matching specs at much lower prices. As always, a road test should be the deciding factor.