Mark Jones
Road Test Editor
3 minute read
23 Jan 2021
7:35 am

The VW Golf GTI for nerds

Mark Jones

Don't believe all the rubbish you read about electric mobility.

Volkswagen e-Golf

There is so much misinformation and outright lack of understanding when it comes to electrification in the automotive world. Just mention the words “electric car” and everybody in South Africa starts to roll their eyes and mutter obscenities about Eskom and load-shedding.

Sadly, some of this apprehension is perfectly understandable. To go with the multiple levels of lockdown, we also have varying levels of load-shedding. But it is what it is, we will adapt, the infrastructure will continue to grow, and bar the country completely imploding into financial chaos, the future of electric mobility in South Africa will be viable.

As part of Volkswagen’s drive towards electric mobility in our country, and to offer us a taste of what is to come when they officially launch their customer electric car fleet into South Africa in 2022, the manufacturer gave us an extended drive in their e-Golf. The fun part of this e-Golf experience is that the electric motor has an output of 100 kW and 290 Nm of instant torque, and this is more than enough for sensible urban commuting, while allowing you to mess with hot hatches for a brief second or two at the traffic lights, kinda like a GTI for nerds.

Where it gets confusing, is when you try figure out how much it costs to “refuel” your electric vehicle (EV) up, and what sort of “fuel” consumption you can expect. And if I look at some of the misinformation or blatant rubbish shared on social media, I get why this aspect of owning an EV can confuse you right out of considering one.

I am going to try and help you with a brief rundown of the maths I used to calculate my “fuel” consumption during the time I had the e-Golf. Think conventional fuel consumption, but only in electricity terms. As long as you can stick a rand value next to the bottom line, it’s not case of comparing apples with oranges anymore.

Our city slicker has a “tank” size of 35.8 kWh, referring to the battery’s capacity. I pay R2.35 per kWh of pre-paid electricity at my house, so to recharge from empty cost me R84.13, and I achieved an average consumption of 14.4 kWh per 100 km, which worked out to a range of 248 km for every charge.

I will save you the pain of working this all back to rands per 100 km or “litres” per 100 km. The electricity cost per 100 km is R33.84, and for this money, you would only get 2.28-litres of fuel at today’s price of R14.86 per litre. Thus, my “fuel” consumption in the e-Golf was a mere 2.28-litres per 100 km if you want to compare it to your car at home. That equates to a very impressive number of almost 44 km on a single litre, unheard of for an internal combustion engine.

You must take note of a few particularly important variables, and I am sorry for throwing more numbers at you, but it is pertinent that I give you as much basic information as I can for this all to make some sense.

The cost of electricity varies slightly per municipality, and is relatively cheap, but charging from home via a three-pin plug is an awfully slow process and not recommended. If you are not using a manufacturer supplied wall mounted charging station. Public charging points are substantially faster, but it can cost you up to R6 per kWh for the convenience of speed, and this makes that cost per 100 km not so attractive anymore.

But just like we live with cell phones that have become the smart phones of today with their tech, and network coverage that has improved exponentially over time, so will the technology, and charging station coverage of electric vehicles improve exponentially over time, and then cars like the e-Golf will make more and more sense to everybody.

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