Volkswagen of America confirmed the next-generation Golf GTI will arrive in showrooms in late 2021 as a 2022 model. It will be joined by the all-wheel drive Golf R, which hasn't been unveiled yet, but Autoblog learned from company officials that the odds of seeing the plug-in hybrid GTE turn a wheel on our shores are low.
"For the time being, there is no GTE planned for the United States. I don't think it's ever safe to say something is 100% ruled out, but at this time our focus is towards the Golf GTI and the Golf R, and then figuring out where electric performance variants fit in," Megan Closset, the Golf family's product manager, told us.
Volkswagen introduced the second-generation GTE online at the same time as the eighth-generation GTI. In Europe, its main market, it's presented as a model that puts an electrified twist on the decades-old concept of a hot hatch. It's powered by a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor that join forces to deliver 242 horsepower, a figure that's about on par with the GTI's. The 13-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack stores enough electricity to give the GTE up to 43 miles of zero-emissions range, though it inevitably adds weight.
Batteries remain expensive, and cost concerns are part of what's keeping the GTE (pictured) away from America.
"If you look at the United States market, most volume brands are putting a focus very much on hybrid technology, not on plug-in hybrid technology. Plug-in hybrid technology is a lot more expensive than standard hybrid technology. From that perspective, we'll stick with focusing on GTI and R right now," added Hein Schafer, Volkswagen's senior vice president for product marketing and strategy.
Volkswagen remains open to the idea of adding performance cars to its burgeoning range of ID-badged electric cars. None have been unveiled (or even announced) yet, but the company previously made it clear that it's looking at how to apply the lessons learned from the record-setting ID.R project to a production car. Some of these hot-rodded electric cars could join the company's American range later in the 2020s.
"We're always looking at business cases, what makes sense for the market, and what makes sense for our portfolio," Closset said. "We have a lot of exciting electric vehicles coming out, and the portfolio team will be looking at our strategy in the future. Does it make sense to have high-performance variants of these EVs?"