Up down? VW will lend you a real carComment on this story
This is either a very clever marketing tool, or the ultimate admission of failure or, just possibly, both.
Anybody buying a battery-powered Volkswagen e-Up hatch in Germany gets an 'all-inclusive package', from a special wall-box - €950 (R13 750) installed - that delivers industrial-strength electricity to your garage at home for quicker and more efficient charging, to a free app that lets you access your car's charging and odometer functions, GPS navigation and infotainment settings from your smartphone or online at Car-Net without interrupting the charging cycle, to a supplementary mobility package for special trips.
That's right, Cyril - if you need to go somewhere that's more than 130km away, or out in the country where there are no public charging points, or if you need to move something that's too big for your e-Up, just call Euro mobile car rental and they'll provide any Volkswaghen product from a conventional petrol-powered Up to a Sharan MPV - free!
OK, T's and C's apply, but it really is free for the first three years, for up to 30 days a year, and includes a staggered amount of free kilometres. It may have been intended to allay potential customers' range anxiety but, in essence, it's the first public admission by a carmaker that there are some things which we take for granted with a conventional combustion-powered vehicle, that a battery-powered car can't handle.
Volkswagen has, however, addressed our main concern with electric cars at IOL Motoring, which is that the electricity to charge them has to come from somewhere, and that almost always means a CO2-belching conventional power station.
The wall-power unit can be optionally connected to the 'Blue Power' grid, which is supplied exclusively - albeit at an exorbitant €0.25 (R3.70) per kWh - from hydroelectric power plants in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Which means that your e-Up will be contributing less greenhouse gases to the atmosphere per kilometre than a decent fart.
Volkswagen quotes fuel-consumption of about 11.7kWh per 100km for the e-Up. As always, until we've tried it for ourselves we'll take that figure under advisement but, if it's achievable, true zero-emissions motoring will be costing you about €3 (R43.40) per 100km.
At the January 2014 SA fixing (and we use the term with malice of forethought) R43-40 will buy you 3.3 litres of unleaded at the coast - and you'll need to be an award-winning econorunner to get 100km out of that, especially in a one-litre car.
IOL Motoring's best yet was 4.05 litres per 100km on a 670cc Honda Integra scooter.
Even at 'Blue Power' prices, green motoring is cheaper than combustion driving - within the limits of contemporary electric cars. Sadly, however, even Volkswagen acknowledges that those limitations are still the deciding factor.