TOKYO -- Volkswagen will launch its first electric vehicle in Japan, releasing the e-Golf in June or July, as the automaker attempts to repair a reputation badly damaged by the 2015 revelation that it cheated on emissions tests for diesel-engine vehicles.
The model, unveiled at last year's Los Angeles auto show, boasts a lithium-ion battery with some 70% greater capacity. The range is up to 300km per charge, the German company's Japanese unit said Tuesday.
Including the e-Golf, Volkswagen plans to roll out at least five new versions of the Golf, Up and other models in Japan this year. The company on Tuesday released the all-new Tiguan sport utility vehicle, fully redesigned for the first time in eight years. The Tiguan, which comes standard with Internet connectivity, has a starting price of 3.6 million yen ($31,845).
Volkswagen's emissions scandal hit the automaker hard even in Japan, where affected diesel models were not even sold. Japanese sales tumbled 13.8% to roughly 47,000 vehicles in 2016. The decline pushed the company behind Mercedes-Benz and BMW, losing its standing as one of the top two foreign brands in Japan for the first time in 22 years.
Volkswagen is working hard to restore trust in Japan, holding a nationwide test-drive campaign since last May. Till Scheer, president of Volkswagen Group's Japanese unit, said Tuesday that the company is regaining public confidence in the brand, adding that it aims to lift sales above last year's figure with the new model releases.