The new Volkswagen ID.3 battery-electric vehicle has been slammed hard by Germany’s most influential automotive magazine, Auto Motor und Sport laying in on a variety of issues including faulty fit-and-finish and electronics problems – though reviewers did praise the BEV’s driving dynamics.
The review is just the latest setback for VW’s multi-billion-dollar push into electrification, the launch of the ID.3 previously being delayed because of significant onboard electrical issues. The subcompact hatchback is the first long-range offering by the Volkswagen brand which hopes to have about 50 BEVs in production by mid-decade. It already has launched models under the Audi and Porsche badges.
“The inner side of the hood looks like it was painted with a spray can,” the magazine said in its first review of the ID.3, noting that the battery car does not meet VW’s traditional build quality standards.
The battery car is the first model to be produced at VW’s big factory in Zwickau, Germany, which recently underwent a complete makeover to exclusively focus on electric vehicle production. The ID.3 hatchback will shortly be followed by the ID.4, the larger crossover set to become the Volkswagen brand’s first long-range EV targeting the U.S. market.
According to Auto Motor und Sport’s lengthy review, the ID.3 suffered from a variety of issues, most notably mismatched panel gaps. Its infotainment system was slow to fire up after starting the car and its navigation system was defective.
The test car also proved to deliver less range than promised, only 260 kilometers, or 161 miles, during a mix of spirited local and highway driving. It scored better when driven cautiously, about 359 km – or 223 miles – before needing a recharge. Range has been a sore point with reviews of Volkswagen AG’s other new battery-car models, including the Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan.
The ID.3 has had a troubling drive from concept to showroom. Last December, the automaker confirmed reports of “massive” software issues, though it didn’t offer specific details. The problem was believed to impact some of the first production models being built at Zwickau and required changes to both the ID.3 and the ID.4 models.
The problems continued in 2020, the automaker’s labor union chief faulting the company for letting the ID.3 project slip behind schedule. VW officials subsequently acknowledged there were fixes needed before bringing the car out to the public.
But they have subsequently tried to play up the results. And at least one competitor had kind words to offer, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pronouncing the ID.3 “pretty good” after a drive in Berlin. VW CEO Herbert Diess, in turn, complimented the Tesla Model Y he drove at the same time, calling it “a reference … for us.”
The Auto Motor und Sport review of the new ID.3 wasn’t entirely negative. The magazine praised the performance of the powertrain, most notably.
“The drive and chassis, on the other hand, work perfectly,” reviewers said. “The equally natural and agile handling of the compact is one of the strengths of the ID.3.”
It remains to be seen how the magazine’s review will impact sales of the new ID.3, but Auto Motor und Sport is closely followed in Germany and other parts of Europe.
VW can’t afford to take such serious hits if it is to meet long-term electrification goals. The company wants to have 50 BEVs in production by 2025, generating 1.5 million annual sales. It hopes to increase the tally to 79 models by the end of the decade. To get there it is spending tens of billions on product development and billions more setting up factories to produce those various products.