New Volkswagen I.D. electric hatch spied testing before it officially goes on sale at the end of this year
Production of the new Volkswagen I.D. is edging ever closer, and our latest spy images show the all-new electric car undergoing winter testing before its goes on sale towards the end of 2019.
Volkswagen will launch the I.D. (codenamed ‘Neo’ within the company) with a range of three battery capacities, and is aiming to significantly undercut the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia e-Niro with a starting price of just £22,500.
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Given the aggressive pricing, VW has set itself strong targets for the electric I.D. sub-brand – it hopes to shift 100,000 cars per year in 2020, and ten times that figure just five years later.
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As revealed by Auto Express towards the end of 2017, the first I.D. will be a five-door hatchback which, at 4.25 metres long, is almost identical in size to a Golf. However, the use of the all-new electric vehicle ‘MEB’ platform means the wheelbase is around 20cm longer, at roughly 2.83 metres. As a result, interior space should be similar to that of a Passat.
The potential for extra cabin space can be seen in the proportions of the car in our spy images. The bonnet is much shorter than that of a Golf – it only needs to house an air conditioning system – allowing for much more space inside for occupants. Boot space is also expected to measure up closely to a Golf, so expect around 380 litres with all five seats in place.
Initially, the I.D. will be powered by a single rear-mounted electric motor powering the back wheels only, but four-wheel drive versions (and higher performance options) are expected to follow later.
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Each of the three battery capacities will be paired with e-motors offering different power outputs. Christian Senger, VW’s Head of Product Line for E-Mobility, told Auto Express, “The entry-level car will have a WLTP range of 330km (205 miles), and it will also have more limited performance. If people want a faster car then I don’t want them coming back after three months telling me that it’s fast but that the range is too short. So if you want a fast car, you’ll need a bigger battery – simple.”
The most modest I.D. hatch will get a 48kWh battery, while above that will sit 55 and 62kWh variants. The top spec model will provide a WLTP-certified range of around 341 miles.
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Charging will be catered for via two forms of AC charging – 7.2kW and 11kW – plus DC charging at up to 125kW via a CCS connection; the maximum that can be achieved with the car’s 400-volt electrical systems. This latter method should result in an 80 per cent charge in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the battery.
Senger said buyers should expect a less complex buying or leasing process with I.D. cars – not least because the company has removed many of the intricacies of combustion-engined line-ups in a bid to raise economies of scale and cut costs. “There will still be enough versions of I.D.,” he told us, “but it will be much less complex, yes. You’ll still be able to choose different colours and specs of seats, but you won’t get the thousands of permutations that come with, say, a combustion-engined Golf. Complexity costs, and you have to remember that our goal with I.D. is Electric for All.”
The prototype platform shown at VW’s launch event revealed predictably short overhangs for a car that doesn’t have a combustion engine or an exhaust – and a multi-link suspension arrangement at the rear to accommodate the electric motor.
The chassis also includes a large area ahead of the dashboard – space freed up by the lack of a combustion engine – that VW will use to install a projection system for an augmented reality navigation display. This was previewed on the original I.D. concept but the bare chassis indicates that it is likely to make production, at least as an option. There’s also a gap where an induction charging panel could be installed, as and when the technology becomes available.
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The I.D. will be VW’s first permanently online vehicle, allowing a range of services to be offered to customers through the cloud, and over-the-air updates to be installed in the same way as Tesla does with its cars. Only three of the car’s electronic control units (ECUs) are unable to be updated wirelessly.
Senger revealed that VW had even considered installing one set of hardware and allowing the user to activate or deactivate features via smartphone apps but he said, “We did the numbers and it was still too expensive. You can’t just put heated seats in every car and then charge some people for them; the unit cost is too much.”
VW has confirmed that the I.D. hatch will be built at its Zwickau factory, and stated that it is investing €1.2billion (£1.1billion) in the plant. The company says that the factory will be able to produce 1,500 I.D. cars per day, although Senger said that this full capacity wouldn’t come on stream until 2021.
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VW says that across the wider group – so including its own brand plus SEAT, Audi and Skoda – it expects 27 pure-electric MEB models to be on sale by the end of 2022. And that in total, 10 million vehicles will be based on the first wave of the MEB platform, which has been conceived from the ground up to accommodate batteries and electric motors, with no compromise for combustion-engined variants.
The company has also detailed how other production sites in Germany are being adapted for MEB. The battery systems factory in Braunschweig will expand to capacity for half a million battery packs per year, while the facilities at Salzgitter (rotors) and Kassel (electric motors) will also receive fresh investment. VW says it plans to spend €1.3billion (£1.2billion) across these three sites.
VW has revealed that a prototype production version of the car is currently under preparation in its ‘Pilot Hall’ in Wolfsburg, and that it will soon begin tests at the firm’s top-secret Ehra-Lessien proving ground in eastern Germany.
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