Published: Tue, September 10, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Volkswagen unveils its first ID electric auto, and it's reasonably priced

Volkswagen unveils its first ID electric auto, and it's reasonably priced

The ID.3 is intended as the first in a planned onslaught of electric vehicles that the carmaker hopes will finally gain forgiveness from the public for the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, which saw the brand's reputation irreparably tarnished and its stock plummet.

It's by no means a secret.

Not only will VW reveal the ID.3, the initially motor vehicle to be marketed beneath its new ID electric powered auto or truck sub-brand, but VW will also unveil a new brand.

VW has shown us plenty of ID concept cars, but this is the first production version, the ID.3. This, folks, is the vehicle VW hopes will get the masses into electric motoring. All told, it is investing about 11 billion euros, or $12.1 billion in the effort, part of its "goTOzero" strategy.

The ID 3 is easily one of the biggest debuts in Frankfurt. A distinct design characteristic of the ID 3 is a honeycomb pattern on the D-pillars. There's less chrome and more distinctive lighted accents, VW suggesting in a news release that "light is the chrome of the future".

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess says his company's massive scale will enable it to make profits on large numbers of affordable electric cars it aims to sell in the next several years. The fact that there have been so many initial hand-raisers suggests VW may be onto something. Using the latest European WLTP testing cycle, VW estimates that will yield around 420 km, or 261 mile, range.

Initially, the ID.3 will be paired with a 58kWh battery capable of returning a WLTP-certified range of 260 miles. The top-most spec will give the ID 3 550 km of range from a 77 kWh unit. Thanks to its fast charging capability, it is possible to charge the ID.3 sufficiently for a range of around 290 km within 30 minutes, using a fast-charging output of 100 kW.

For the first generation of buyers, Volkswagen is offering free charging for a year at WeCharge network stations throughout Europe. All ID 3s are rear wheel drive, and Volkswagen said the setup is characterized by ideal weight distribution though it didn't say what that distribution is. The company has not yet revealed specific torque or horsepower numbers, nor performance figures.

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It's about the size of a VW Golf and, after incentives, will cost a similar amount. There will be 13 cubic feet of storage space behind the second-row seats.

"The ID.3 marks the start of a major e-mobility campaign for Volkswagen". All functions are controlled through a ten-inch touchscreen and a floating all-digital instrument cluster.

The top-of-the-range Max includes an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, Beats sound system, panorama sliding/tilting glass roof, 20-inch wheels, lane-keeping system, lane-change system, cordless phone charging and luxury seats.

All controls are now operated by touch panels -even the ones on the steering wheel- with VW leaving only the electric windows and hazard warning lights being operated by traditional buttons.

The steering wheel-mounted controls also employ touch-sensitive surfaces, and all are supplemented by intelligent natural voice control, prompted by the "hello ID" verbal cue. Drivers or front passengers can speak to the ID.3, simply by saying "hello ID".

When the ID.3 arrives in the United Kingdom, customers will be offered home wall box chargers at "prices significantly under those common on the market".

BMW's marketing chief says giving customers a broad choice among internal combustion, hybrid and battery-powered cars is the right approach to a changing market. In Norway, for example, they now account for more than half of the market's new vehicle sales.

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