We’ve got a story to tell
Volkswagen engineers have been living, breathing and buzzing about electric developments for many years. And now, they’re ready to start shouting about it.
In 1970, Volkswagen established the ‘Future Research’ division, and just two years later our first electric vehicle was on the road. We called it the Transporter and incredibly, it was created by a team of just 10 men. Dr Adolf Kalberlah headed up the division. He and his colleague, Willi Josefowitz, were part of the small team working towards a greener future. Battery technology was different back then, but still fitted perfectly under the Transporter’s loading bed and had a range of up to 30 miles. Pretty impressive seeing as the technology of 40 years ago is often bigger and much less powerful.
The first hybrid Volkswagen
We knew immediately that electric technology would be perfect for cities. Our team went on to include it in a bright yellow T2 Bulli taxi cab which made a prestigious premier at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. ‘It was the first Volkswagen with a hybrid drive system,’ stresses Kalberlah, and with its rear seats arranged to face one another it became a head-turning mode of transport that was way ahead of its time.
The e-Golf's older brothers
In 1976, Volkswagen continued to prove the potential of an electric drive system with the release of the Elektro Golf. The vehicle was intended to be a one-off but it went on to inspire the Golf I CitySTROMer, released in 1981 with a production of 20-25 hitting the test track. Years of development culminated in the Golf III CitySTROMer. The first production electric car, it was released between 1992 and 1996. And in a true testament to Volkswagen engineering, you can still see the Golf III CitySTROMer on the roads today.
25 years later and still charging
The Golf III CitySTROMer is still doing the rounds, thanks to one of its original developers, Roland Gaber. He still drives his pride and joy around Germany and gets looks of amazement as he fills up at garages by flipping open the front number plate and plugging his car into the electrical socket. Even his family are in on the action: son Jonas and daughter Luisa Gaber both still drive their CitySTROMers!
Racing goes electric
Hagen Arlt made motorsport history in the Golf CitySTROMer. In 1986, he outraced every driver in the field with his version of the Golf; with a plastic tailgate, plastic windows and a body emblazoned with sponsor stickers. The vehicles were 25 years ahead of their time and they knew how to put a smile on the face of anyone who raced them. Electric cars in motor sport? ‘I came with a sceptical smile on my face and ultimately left with a great deal of respect!’ says Arlt.