It’d be no surprise that many people are surprised to learn of this Volkswagen Jetta EV prototype. Even with all of the EV fanfare of late, it’s an obscure automotive artifact that’s difficult to find, unless you read Car Autance, other nerdy automotive news and blog outlets, or maybe VWVortex.com. VW itself didn’t even mention this a few years back when it discussed its development history with EVs, but I think this is one of the cooler cars to get the EV treatment. Here’s why.
- Car: 1988 Volkswagen Jetta Coupe
- Location: Germany?
- Photog: Unknown (used with permission by Volkswagen)
- Camera: Unknown
To start, it’s a Mark 2/Mk2/A2 Jetta, which is near and dear to my heart because my first car was a Mk2. It was a Carat trim (a.k.a. budget yuppy spec) and featured the venerable ol’ standby, the 1.8-liter 8v 4-cylinder. Mine even had the same wheels as this one, 14-inch Zandvoorts.
It’s also a coupe, the best Jetta body style, with Euro small bumpers with the top and bottom bits color-matched, perhaps the best look one could ever give a Mk2. Personally, I strongly dislike the later 1990+ big bumpers.
Using an EV powertrain in the ’80s gives it major cool points, too. This little German science project possessed a sodium-sulfur battery that gave it a range of 75 miles and a top speed of, wait for it, 65 miles per hour. I’m not sure if it was front-battery, rear-wheel drive, or vice versa, but there are photos of it elsewhere online looking pretty low in the back.
Those specs aren’t impressive in the slightest, but what’s key here is its name was the Jetta CityStromer. In German, City is, well, City, and Stromer seems to be a play on words. Strom means electricity, but Stromer means rounder or roamer. City Roamer was the perfect name for this neat prototype, as 75 miles is plenty of range for European city driving, and you’d be hard-pressed to ever need more than 65 mph in such a scenario as well. Even if you happen to get chased all over Paris.
According to VW of America, this Jetta’s sibling the Golf CityStromer was produced in very small numbers for normal sale but was primarily used for research by various companies before being re-sold to the public. On the other hand, it has no record of the Jetta ever being sold, so you could say it was just a prototype.
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