Not another new electric car?
‘Tis the season of new car announcements. This is because the Frankfurt Motor Show is approaching, where new cars are trumpeted and manufacturers try to outdo each other in terms of hype, noise, and occasionally substance. But this year signals a bit of a shift, as pretty much all the big noise is around electric cars. Not least the Volkwagen ID3.
On the 9th September 2019 Volkswagen (Voltswagen on their adverts - clever, eh?) made the bold statement of showing that their future is electric. This is a bold statement - not because they're moving to electric (this isn’t a gamble). The future is when (not if) electric cars become the norm, but the VW group (including Seat, Skoda and Porsche) have, in the last few weeks, systematically shown they’re heading for an electric future that’s just around the corner. This is big news, because this is the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer. They do things at immense scale. And they’re planting their flag firmly in the 100% all electric ground.
Let’s put that in perspective with some numbers. VW plan on building and selling 3 million electric cars a year by 2025. Not selling 3 million in the next 6 years. Building 3 million a year (there are only around 5 million battery electric vehicles worldwide at the moment). There are “only” 31 million seconds in a year… so that is one car every 10 seconds by 2025. That is a ramp up faster than Henry Ford, and Elon Musk could ever dream of. Volkswagen know a thing or two about manufacturing lots of cars though, it has the history of building 20 million Beetles and 35 million Golfs.
How will it drive?
Initially the ID3 will only be equipped with rear wheel drive, with three battery sizes. All wheel drive will come later. You may ask why this matters? Because on a “traditional” front engined set up the best system for driving dynamics and spreading weight is rear wheel drive. Most ICE (internal combustion engine) cars come front wheel drive. Front wheel drive became cheaper because you can compact it into a much tighter space. Electric vehicles change the dynamics of this (the components are different sizes and they don’t have to be in the same places, changing the design rules completely). This also means they give space back to the designers that can be used to its maximum potential.
ID3 has a very similar footprint to a Golf, albeit with a different wheel base (the distance between the centre nut of the two wheels front to back). VW have lengthened the wheelbase to provide extra space for the batteries but also with stubbier front and rear ends to create a better aerodynamic profile. Something VW didn’t say but reading between the lines, this car will be heavier than a regular Golf, and being rear wheel drive, lengthening the wheelbase will make it more stable on long faster corners because of the laws of physics around moments.
What will the ID3’s range be like?
The longer wheelbase is also how VW have managed to accommodate three battery sizes with the largest being a 77kWh. These have been tested to 550km (about 340 miles) between charges. Testing conditions don’t necessarily match to the real world, but we’d expect that should easily translate to 300 miles plus.
And the interior?
Going back to the those designers, they have utilised the interior space to great effect, creating a Tardis-like trick of the eye that will pay dividends to anyone travelling inside the ID3. It may be about the size of a Golf on the outside, but it’s about the size of a Passat on the inside. It’s safe to say that rear leg room is going to be incredible.
It’s an electric car. It will feature some cool stuff
We’re excited to see it at Frankfurt and try out some of the features that sound like they’re out of Tron. There’s the ‘Keyless Advanced’ locking system which makes the headlights “wink” at you as you approach, ten shades of ambient lighting inside, and the obligatory driver assistance tools. The most exciting/fanboy touch we’ve heard about though is the Augmented Reality Sat Nav… the windscreen will light up and place imaginary barriers on the road in front of you to help guide you in the right place. Just like Need For Speed Underground 2.
What about the price?
Although it’s a little early to get into specifics, we expect Volkswagen will start the pricing of this car at around £30,000, which after your government grant could be as little as £25,000. This could make it an amazingly attractive proposition when we get leasing prices. Pop in your details below to hear the latest from the Frankfurt Motorshow, and when we have more details on lease costs we can keep you up to speed.