Four years ago, Volkswagen faced its darkest days as its diesel-emissions crisis unfolded around the world. As the German automaker wraps up investigations and penance for its deceit, it’s rethought the company strategy with a blank canvas. Brush stroke one? The MEB electric-car platform. Brush stroke two? That’s what you see here.
The Beetle or Golf for the 21st century as it marks the automaker’s turning point toward an all-electric future portfolio. Don’t consider it for your next car if you live in the US — we’ll get our first ID model soon, though it’ll be abowed on Monday ahead of its formal debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Consider this the
VW said in its announcement that it will bring theinto the world with the in three flavors: the basic ID 3 1st, 1st Plus and 1st Max. Naturally, the price and equipment level increases with each tier. While all three 1st Edition cars boast a 58 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery good for 261 miles of range (420 kilometers based on European WLTP estimates), premium amenities multiply in the Plus and Max trims. The former gains adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and 19-inch wheels. The latter sports a head-up display, Beats audio system, panoramic sunroof and a suite of active safety equipment.
Once VW ushers the ID 3 1st Edition into the world, the regular production model will offer a 45-kWh battery that provides an estimated 205 miles of range and an even larger 77-kWh battery with an estimated 342 miles of range on tap — again, by WLTP estimates. It’s the 45-kWh model that will boast a price under $34,000 (at current exchange rates) before any tax credits or incentives, as VW promised.
Under the simple metal is the aforementioned— the key to VW’s electric-car portfolio in the years to come. At the rear axle sits the electric motor making 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, a one-speed transmission and the power electronics. Up front, the air conditioner, steering rack and other auxiliary units reside behind the bodywork. Sandwiched between both axles is the flat lithium-ion battery tucked low into the vehicle for center-of-gravity benefits. It also opens up the ID 3’s cockpit with a flat floor and generous cargo room; behind the second row, there’s 13.6 cubic feet of cargo room.
Despite the futuristic and technology-forward approach, VW said designers worked hard to create an “organic” cockpit. Thus, we’re treated to softer curves in the cabin that are supposed to help emphasize the amount of space available. In the middle of the center stack sits a 10-inch touchscreen for infotainment purposes and it works with what VW calls “ID Light.” For example, the strip of LED lights can turn red and tell the driver to brake to avoid a crash or other dangers while navigating to a destination.
And everything, and I mean everything, is a touch function, save for the window switches and hazard lights (the latter being a European regulation). From the center stack controls to even the steering wheel-mounted functions, all of it features touch-sensitive buttons. Not in the mood to pluck at screens and touch controls? “Hello, ID,” awakens the smart assistant to help control cockpit functions. Further, ID Light will let the driver or passenger know who it’s speaking with.
After a day’s driving, the ID 3 1st Edition will accept standard AC and DC fast charging. The latter option will provide 180 miles of range in 30 minutes. Other production ID 3 models will offer DC fast charging as an option, however.
As a lovely gesture, every ID 3 1st Edition owner will receive a year’s worth of free charging up to 2,000 kWh, too. Worried about where the energy to charge comes from? Good guy VW has that covered: WeCharge charging stations only source from renewable sources, and if at any part of the ID 3’s journey is excess carbon produced, VW will invest in various climate projects to offset a dirty portion of the supply chain. At the end of the day, VW promises a carbon-neutral electric car.
The first ID 3 models will hit German roads in mid-2020. By then, us Americans will likely have had a look at our very own electric people mover.