Volkswagen e-Golf (© Perry Stern)Click to enlarge picture

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen's first battery-electric vehicle to enter the U.S. market made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, an event that showcased a wide range of zero-emissions vehicles.

After a slow start, the German automaker has been making an aggressive push into battery technology with hybrids, plug-ins and full battery-electric vehicles. VW promises that the e-Golf will boast one of the fastest recharge times in the industry.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is set to go on sale during the fourth quarter of 2014 in "select states," which will likely mean California and other states with similar zero-emissions mandates. The new model will be powered by a 24.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack paired with a 115-horsepower motor capable of launching the car from zero to 60 in 10.4 seconds, with a top speed rated at 87 mph.

The e-Golf is expected to deliver between 70 and 90 miles on a charge, though final Environmental Protection Agency numbers aren't yet available. But to counter potential "range anxiety," the German maker will offer a new Roadside Assistance Plan, in which it says, "if the customer runs out of charge and is within 100 miles of their home, Volkswagen ... will deliver the car to a nearby and convenient source for charging and will even pay for the customer to take a taxi home or to work if they decide not to travel with the car. The plan covers unlimited events."

View Pictures:  Volkswagen e-Golf to debut in LA

The 7.2 kilowatt charger will handle as much as twice the current of many other current EV charging systems and can reduce recharging time on a 220-volt circuit to less than four hours, though using 120-volt current would raise that to 20 hours. On the other hand, one of the new 440-volt DC quick-charger stations can give the e-Golf an 80% recharge in around 30 minutes, VW claims.

The vehicle's batteries will account for a significant portion of the VW e-Golf's mass, 701 pounds out of a total curb weight of 3,090 pounds. The maker has taken a number of steps to reduce overall mass, however, and has also adopted features such as full LED lighting to minimize battery drain.

To increase the fun-to-drive factor, VW says it will offer three driver-selectable regenerative braking modes, as well as three driving profiles that can increase range.

Read:  Volkswagen XL1: Driving VW's hypermiler

Weight is only one of many factors that can influence range. VW designers also attacked wind resistance with a number of aerodynamic tweaks unique to the e-Golf, including radiator shutters, new underbody panels, a rear spoiler and air vanes around the C-pillars.

Safety features will include the new Automatic Post-Collision Braking System designed to slow the vehicle after an accident to prevent a secondary collision.

The e-Golf is one of several advanced battery vehicles VW is planning to bring to market. The maker will also launch a battery version of its Up! microcar, as well as the new plug-in diesel hybrid XL1, which will deliver fuel economy in excess of 200 mpg. Neither of those models are expected to make it to the U.S market, however.