Volkswagen just revealed its new ID3 electric car (stylized as ID.3) the night before the 2019 International Motor Show in Frankfurt. The Volkswagen ID3 is groundbreaking as the first of Volkswagen’s new generation of all-electric vehicles and is a realignment of the brand toward being environmentally friendly. The car is the first VW that is carbon-neutral when delivered to customers, which includes its battery, supply chain, and production.
According to Volkswagen, the ID stands for “intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies.” The 3 indicates it’s a compact car and also introduces the third chapter of Volkswagen’s history, following the Beetle and the Golf. Unfortunately, the ID3 will not be sold in the United States.
According to Volkswagen, the ID3 is the first electric vehicle built on Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB). The MEB architecture moves away from the design assumptions of combustion engine cars and creates a new platform for electric vehicles. Eventually, the MEB platform will be used by other Volkswagen brands, like Audi and Porsche, plus by other auto manufacturers.
The ID3 is a compact five-door hatchback with a new design identity, separating the electric vehicle from other VW cars. The exterior is similar to the Golf, although taller and with larger wheels. The rear-wheel-drive car has a rear-mounted drive motor with 204 horsepower and one of three battery options mounted into the floor, which saves space. The light version is 3,790 pounds, but Road & Track expects it to handle well because it has a low center of gravity. The speed will top out around 100 mph.
Volkswagen will produce 30,000 special edition launch vehicles, the ID.3 1st. This car will have the 58-kWh battery pack option and come in four colors and three trim options. Later ID.3 buyers will have three battery options, giving them different distance ranges on a single charge (based on the WLTP standard). The base option will have a 45-kWh battery with a range of up to 205 miles. The medium option will have a 58-kWh battery with a range of 261 miles. And the top option will have a 77-kWh battery with up to 342 miles. Volkswagen has guaranteed the ID3 batteries for eight years or 99,500 miles.
The roomy interior of the ID3 is similar to the Passat. With no combustion engine, the motor on the rear axle, and the battery in the floor, the car has a long wheelbase and more interior space.
The interior is also full of lots of tech for its price point. With nearly everything controlled by touch, the only real buttons are for the windows and the hazard lights. A new feature is the ID Light, an LED strip below the windshield that gives visual signals to the drivers. There is also an optional AR heads-up display, voice-activated controls, and a wireless charging mat for smartphones, plus other upgrade options. In a humanizing touch, the ID3’s headlights flutter like it’s winking or blinking when the driver walks up to the parked car.
Production of the ID.3 begins in November of 2019 at the Zwickau plant in Germany, which is transitioning to be the largest electric car facility in Europe. More than 30,000 pre-order reservations were made between May and September for the ID3, most from Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The launch model costs less than €40,000 ($44,000) in Germany. The base model will sell for under €30,000 ($33,000). Volkswagen will start delivering the cars in summer 2020.
The ID3 is a European car and will not be sold in the United States. However, it’s just the first of many electric vehicles to come from Volkswagen. It already has a plan to produce 33 vehicles based on the MEB platform over the next three years and 70 during the next decade.
The ID Crozz, a crossover SUV, is expected to be the first ID series vehicle available in the U.S. It will likely appear for sale late in 2020. The ID Crozz along with the ID Buzz (van), ID Vizzion (sedan), and ID Buggy (beach cruiser) are currently concept cars. Together the ID series vehicles mark Volkswagen’s new direction in the electric vehicle market as well as its efforts to put its diesel car scandal in the past.