(Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information about the vehicle’s battery and introduction plans as well as details from new CEO Thomas Schäfer.)
Volkswagen’s latest all-electric model has made an illuminating entry into this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.
Covered with electroluminescent “digital camouflage,” the ID.7 prototype offers some clear insights into the sedan set to join the automaker’s growing line-up of battery-electric vehicles. Set to go on sale first in China, it will join both the original ID.4 crossover, as well as the new ID.Buzz microbus, when it reaches U.S. showrooms by late 2023.
“With the new ID.7, we are extending our electric model range into the upper segments. The sedan will offer top-class technology and quality,” said Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars. “The ID.7 is one of 10 new electric models that we are planning to launch by 2026. Our goal? To deliver suitable products for our customers in every single segment.”
The Volkswagen ID.7 will serve as the all-electric replacement for VW’s Passat line — which the automaker pulled from the market this year due to declining demand.
ID.7 will share the same underpinnings as the ID.4 crossover, but it gets some significant updates to the original EV’s technology and interior design. New features will include a “smart” climate control system, as well as an augmented reality head-up display.
Volkswagen is planning a staged series of rollouts for the new sedan. It gave a first hint of what’s coming last summer when it rolled out the ID.Aero Concept in China. The prototype debuting at CES is much closer to the final design — though it is covered in “digital camouflage” that keeps some of the final styling flourishes a secret. The production model is set to make its debut later this winter.
A common platform and a windswept skin
The ID.7 sedan will share the same, underlying MEB “architecture” as both the ID.4 and ID.Buzz. It’s a flexible skateboard-like platform that mounts both batteries and motors under the load floor. For now, VW is only revealing that the wheelbase measures 116.9 inches. With its short front and rear overhangs, that would put it into the compact category. But some of the space normally devoted to an engine compartment has been repurposed for passengers and cargo, yielding a midsize cabin.
The overall design of the ID.7 doesn’t stray far from the ID.Aero which had an unusually slick drag coefficient of 0.23. The low-slung nose flows into a coupe-like, fastback roofline. Like most modern EVs, there’s a solid panel, rather than a conventional grille. It’s bisected by a light bar linking the slit-like headlamps. Another lightbar connects the taillights.
For its CES debut, Volkswagen has given the ID.7 prototype an unusual form of camouflage — a 40-layer electroluminescent paint process that allows the automaker to individual light up 22 different areas around the body in different colors and patterns.
The basic cabin layout resembles that of the ID.4, though the digital gauge cluster has been updated to make it easier to see and read, and the ID.7 gets a larger infotainment touchscreen that can display multiples functions, such as navigation, climate and audio, simultaneously. An augmented head-up display will project arrows and other information to make it easier to follow navigation turn-by-turn directions.
Aiming to address customer concerns about the ID.4, the sedan does add some more traditional controls than the crossover, as well as easy-to-use illuminated sliders.
One of the more intriguing features is the “smart” climate control system. The vents can automatically direct air flow toward specific passengers or be used to warm or cool the entire cabin. And the system will adjust itself depending upon the direction of the sun.
An Alexa-style voice assistant can operate a variety of ID.7 functions — including the climate system. Say, “Hello, Volkswagen, my hands are cold,” and it will turn on the steering wheel heater while also directing warm air at the driver’s hands.
Powertrain and battery
So far, VW has only dropped hints about the ID.7’s powertrain, a news release stating the sedan will deliver up to 700 kilometers, or 435 miles, per charge. That figure is based on the lenient WLTP global standard.
The battery will be larger than the one in the current ID.4 crossover, a VW official told TheDetroitBureau.com during the ID.7 debut Tuesday night. The battery size of the U.S. version hasn’t been finalized, but expect it to be between 90 and 95 kWh. The smaller battery for the ID.7 will be similar to the one found in the ID.4.
VW has done little to hide the likelihood that several powertrain options will be offered, including a single-motor rear-wheel-drive package. Frank Welsch, head of VW’s quality and strategy operations, told Britain’s Autocar this model will hit 100 kmh, or 62 mph, in about 8.5 seconds. There will be an all-wheel-drive option, as well, and a high-performance GTX version will reach 60 in a more spritely 5.6 seconds.
The ID.Aero used a relatively small battery pack. The ID.7 is likely to offer both a 62 kilowatt-hour and an 84 kWh pack, though not necessarily in all global markets.
Charging reportedly has been upgraded from the ID.4, with a new 22 kW AC charger built in. ID.7 also will be able to draw up to 170 kW from a DC quick charger.
Look for ID.7 to be revealed sans camo by the end of the current quarter. It’s expected to go on sale in China, the world’s largest EV market, by early summer this year, CEO Schäfer told TheDetroitBureau.com, with the sedan set to reach Europe in early autumn. The sedan hits the U.S. very early in 2024, he said.
Schäfer acknowledged the market globally, particularly in the U.S., has been migrating toward crossovers and SUVs, but noted “the sedan segment is not dead from our point of view.” He also confirmed that while VW’s new EV doesn’t qualify for the new electric vehicle tax credits offers as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, the company is planning to shift some battery production to the U.S. It’s also examining the possibilities associated with EV production here, but he declined to offer specifics, saying only the company wants to ensure it’s eligible for the credits.
Pricing is expected to start at just over $50,000 for the RWD model. The all-wheel-drive GTX should come in well into the $60,000 range, according to sources.