Volkswagen is getting ready to roll out its first long-range electric vehicle and it appears someone working on the German automaker’s Dutch YouTube channel got a little too eager, letting both images and details about the battery-electric vehicle leak out early.
The hatchback will become not only the first all-electric Volkswagen to deliver more than 200 miles per charge but also the first to be based on the automaker’s all-new MEB platform, a modular architecture expected eventually to be shared by dozens of different models that will be sold across VW’s various brands.
Expected to start at around 30,000 euros, or $33,530 at current exchange rates, VW will begin taking order on May 8, though deliveries aren’t expected to begin until early autumn 2019.
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The images of the ID hatchback – sometimes referred to as the ID.3 – confirm what was widely expected: that its design will carry a number of familiar cues first seen on the current-generation Volkswagen Golf. That includes the headlights, though the ID also features twin light bars that sweep in from those lamps towards the familiar “people’s car” logo. One significant change up front is the lack of a conventional grille, a design strategy first seen on the Tesla Model S.
With no internal combustion engine to feed air to, the ID will need neither grille nor an exhaust pipe at the back end.
Another change is the much shorter hood on the ID. With batteries, motors and other components moved into and under a skateboard like chassis, there’s much less to put underneath the hood, so it appears VW engineers have tried to repurpose some of that space to provide more passenger and cargo space – much as Jaguar has done with its I-Pace battery-electric vehicle.
As for the drivetrain, VW plans to offer the ID.3 in a variety of different configurations, battery packs ranging from 48 to 82 kilowatt-hours. At the low end, range is expected to be 205 miles per charge – at least using the European WLTP testing procedure, but less in the U.S. relying on the EPA’s tests. At the high end, the ID hatchback will get up to around 340 miles per charge.
Performance information has yet to be revealed though a number of sources have indicated the ID hatchback may use a relatively modest, 120 horsepower electric motor. It is uncertain if VW will offer an upgrade option, though that is well within the capabilities of the MEB platform.
As for charging, there will be the usual Level 1 and Level 2 capabilities, at 120 and 240 volts, respectively. The hatchback also will be able to connect to some of the more advanced new Level 3 systems delivering up to 125 kilowatts at 400 volts direct current. Depending upon the battery, that would allow up to an 80% recharge in anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
VW has been working on an even faster, 350 kW, 800 volt system that would allow even the largest battery pack to hit 80% in about 10 minutes, but that technology is first being rolled out by the Porsche brand with the debut of the Taycan model. It’s unclear if and when it would be available for Volkswagen models
VW has announced plans to invest billions of euros in its electrification program, with more than 40 all-electric models in development and due out by around mid-decade. Despite a relatively slow ramp-up in demand, the automaker says it is confident the pace of sales will pick up as more of its – and competitors’ long-range models come to market.
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With pre-orders to begin this week, VW sales chief Jurgen Stackman recently said, “I think it not improbable that the launch edition will already have sold out before the ID. is unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show; the numbers being reported by our dealers indicate that.”
The MEB platform will be used by a range of brands under the VW umbrella, including little Seat and Skoda, as well as high-line Audi. But flagship Volkswagen is launching its own ID sub-brand that will market only all-electric models like the ID.3 hatchback.
The automaker claims the ID hatchback will be its first “carbon-neutral” vehicle. That factors in not only the reliance on electricity, rather than gasoline, but new production methods aimed at reducing the use of energy during the vehicle’s production at its Zwickau plant.
There has been speculation VW will offer a special launch edition of the ID hatchback when sales begin on May 8. Another question is what the new model will wind up being called. We’ve seen a variety of electric concept vehicles, such as the ID Crozz and Roomzz sport-utility vehicles, as well as the ID Buzz, with a production version of that minivan – a tribute to the classic Volkswagen Microbus – already in the works.
But with the hatchback likely to be named the ID.3, that could reveal a new naming strategy for the electric sub-brand with smaller models like the ID.1 and 2 to follow, as well as larger models reportedly dubbed I.D.6 and 7 in the works.
All could become clear later this week.
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