After weeks of teases, Volkswagen has finally taken the wraps off the car it says will lead it into the future and bring in out from under the cloud or mistrust and suspicion created by DieselGate. Called the I.D., the new car is built on VW’s MEB chassis designed exclusively for electric cars. That is the same chassis used to build the BUDD-e concept car that appeared earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It focuses on maximizing comfort, safety, and efficient use of interior space. The flat battery pack will sit below the cabin floor, where the battery for an electric vehicle belongs.
With the Paris auto show set to begin on October 1, the company has begun releasing details about its new car. It says it will have a 168 horsepower electric motor and up to 373 miles of range on a single battery charge. No doubt, that figure is based on the European test cycle. The EPA range will likely be closer to 300 miles. It is also rumored that Volkswagen will give customers a choice of two or more battery sizes to meet individual driving needs and personal budget constraints. Some less expensive versions of the ID could have closer to 200 miles of range but cost less to buy.
The concept to be shown in Paris offers a new styling departure for Volkswagen. It even has a hint of the front end treatment Tesla has chosen for its Model X, Model 3, and refreshed Model S. Unlike the Model 3, the Volkswagen ID will be a 5 door hatchback design. That’s the good news. Now it’s time for the bad news.
Volkswagen says the I.D. won’t go on sale until 2020. By the time it gets here, the Tesla Model 3 will have a 2 year head start in the marketplace and the Chevy Bolt a 3 year head start. The company says the I.D. will be available with “I.D. Pilot mode,” a fully autonomous driving system, but it won’t be available until 2025. Most industry observers expect the Tesla Model 3 to offer fully autonomous driving capability as soon as it goes into production in late 2017 or early 2018. Elon Musk would have it in his cars next week if he could.
The interior of the I.D. boasts some features that seem destined to become commonplace in future cars. The steering wheel can retract into the dashboard, leaving more space for the driver to relax and interact with other passengers. Volkswagen describes it as “the interactive center of a mobile lounge, or a supremely versatile Open Space.” The I.D. dispenses with side view mirrors. It uses cameras mounted in the front fenders to send visual images to the interior of the car. Gone are the traditional B pillars between the front and rear doors. Volkswagen says the doors provide sufficient structural rigidity on their own when fully closed.
The headlights are interesting. Once the I.D. Pilot Mode is available, they will be used to communicate to the outside world when autonomous driving mode is active. They will appear to turn and “look” at other cars and will be used to let pedestrians know the car is aware of them and it is safe to cross in front.
The Volkswagen I.D. (how long before people stop typing in the two periods? I’m already sick of doing it.) seems destined to be a “me, too” car that follows a trail blazed by others. The company expects to sell its one millionth electric car by 2025. Tesla expects to sell its one millionth car 6 or 7 years before that. Will the I.D. propel Volkswagen to the top of the automotive universe once again? The jury is still out on that one.
Source: TechCrunch Photo credits: Volkswagen