It seems that Volkswagen is taking seriously its commitment to transition from emissions-spewing diesels to zero-emissions electric cars. While it is scrounging together the cash to pay tens of billions of dollars in fines resulting from its diesel cheating scheme, it is also aiming to become the world’s leading electric car producer.
Volkswagen has created an entirely new brand called I.D. to market is electric vehicles, the first of which will be called simply the Volkswagen I.D. and is expected to be offered first in Germany beginning in 2019. This model seemingly won’t go on sale in the US, but modifications of it should, according to a recently leaked slidedeck.
Will Cost Less Than Tesla Model 3
The company claims the I.D. will have a range of 250 to 370 miles (knock off ~20% for EPA equivalents) and cost thousands less than the Tesla Model 3. In terms of size, the I.D. will be similar to the Volkswagen Golf and, like that car, will be a 5 door hatchback design. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess told the press this week he expects the top version of the I.D. to sell for no more than €30,000 — about $34,500 at today’s exchange rate. Entry-level versions could be up to $7,000 less. “We get a vehicle with the exterior dimensions of the Golf … the abilities of a Tesla … at the price of a diesel,” he said.
If Volkswagen can deliver an electric car with 200+ miles of range, room for 5, and a hatchback for around $28,000, it better be prepared to build lots of them. At those prices, the I.D. would be competitive with some of the best-selling conventional cars in the world, especially after incentives are figured in. Tesla may have a better product, but in the mass market, the three most important considerations have been and always will be the price, the price, and the price.
However, VW doesn’t have the original I.D. in its US plans at all, according to recent reports. Rather, the company appears to have Americanized versions planned for a little later down the road. More on that in a minute.
Volkswagen I.D. Built On MEB Modular Platform
Speaking at the Shanghai auto show earlier this year, Christian Senger, the head of Volkswagen’s electric car project, told reporters the company has made “huge progress” in reducing production costs of its all-electric vehicles, thanks in large part to its new MEB modular electric car platform. “Offering our electric cars for prices similar to combustion engine vehicles really is a game changer,” said Senger. “We’re using the need to step from traditional combustion engine cars to reinvent the VW brand.”
According to a slide leaked from a recent Volkswagen dealers meeting and published on Dutch website Autoblog.nl, the company plans on introducing 5 electric cars based on the MEB architecture between 2019 and 2022. The I.D. is apparently for European customers only. A slightly larger crossover vehicle called the I.D. Cross is slated for Europe and China. The basic I.D. is not scheduled to make an appearance in the US market, according to the slide, but two other electric cars — the I.D. Lounge and the I.D. AEROe — are. Finally, the 21st century version of the 1960s funk, the I.D. Buzz minibus, will roll out to wild worldwide acclaim in 2022.
High-Power Charging Network Due In 2018
At an automobile conference in Munich last week, VW chief strategist Thomas Sedran told the audience that the European superfast charging network being developed by Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, and Ford is coming along well. The first superfast charger is scheduled for installation next year, according to German trade source Automobil Produktion, but we also just reported that Porsche installed one of these 350 kW charging stations at a new office in Berlin. The Porsche equipment is capable of being used by Tesla drivers with an adapter.
About 400 superfast charging stations will be installed first along main European travel corridors. They will be capable of up to 350 kW of charging power, which is more than double Tesla’s current max of 120 kW, and they will use the CCS plug. “2018 will be the first fast loader. This makes it possible for the electric car to travel without worries on holiday,” Sedran said.
Porsche has said its upcoming Mission E four door sports car will be capable of charging at up to 800 kW of power. We’re not sure when stations capable of such an output would be installed.
The CCS standard does not interface with Tesla’s proprietary charging standard at this time, but Tesla did join the CCS consortium last year, an indication that a move to standardized charging procedures in Europe and possibly the US is underway in the background. If Tesla and CCS join forces, it could spell the end of the CHAdeMO system used by most Japanese manufacturers. While that might be bad news for CHAdeMO fans, having uniform charging standards could give a big boost to the acceptance of electric cars by mainstream buyers.
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