Critically, both VW and Ford have taken a different approach to their opposition, preferring to base their vehicles on existing cars. The benefits, they argue, come with the ability to drive costs down through shared parts, and to have the flexibility to build as many or few cars as they choose, as they run on the same production lines.
VW isn’t used to following trends, of course, but its electric car strategy has long been one of biding its time, the reasoning being that there is no economic case for rushing in, as customer demand has been too small. Now sales are growing in tune with political pressure and a need to establish a pioneering reputation in the field. The e-Up spawned not only the e-Golf, but also the GTE Passat and GTE Golf, the Audi e-tron A3 and Q7 too, as the petrol-electric hybrid segment of the group has balooned.
Drivetrain aside, the e-Up is almost entirely familiar. The 81bhp, 155lb ft electric motor sits up front, while the 18.7kWh lithium ion battery pack weighs 230kg and lies in the floor, so the centre of gravity is lower than in a combustion engined car. There are no interior space compromises, and the interior fittings are near identical to standard, save for the charging and eco-orientated instrumentation. At the 2016 Paris Motorshow, Volkswagen lifted the lid on its revised e-Up, which gained a revised front bumper and grille, and rear light clusters, however the battery pack and its range remain the same.
As ever, it is the on-the-move experience that sets an electric car apart. The silent progress is broken only by road noise and the instant torque is a revelation that does much to put the 12.4sec 0-62mph time to the back of your mind. As a result, the VW e-Up is a car that feels swift and special, so long as you are willing to reset your established values.
It’s a surprise, too, how little the additional weight impedes the car. At 1139kg all-in, it is far from light, but there are palpable benefits in ride quality. Handling, too, is reasonable, even if the suspicion is that the extra weight negates any benefits from the lowered centre of gravity. Only the steering disappoints, delivering virtually no feel, although VW is far from alone from facing that accusation in this field.