The Volkswagen Triplets Are Going 100% Electric

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Sometimes it is frustrating that nearly all of the EV news sites are situated in the USA. With the result that news from the rest of the world (RotW) is not always getting the attention it deserves.

One such news item is about the VW triplets (VW Up!, Skoda Citigo, Seat Mii). They are low volume for Volkswagen (150,000) and low margin, the smallest vehicles Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VAG) sells in Europe. That translates in no budget to make their own design on the shared platform, so these three are nearly identical.

VW-eUP! at the Geneva Motor Show by Jos Olijve

There is an electric version of the VW Up!, the e-Up!. I know, very original. Just like the converted e-Golf, it is not a dedicated EV design, sacrificing some cabin space and luggage capacity for a small battery and electronics.

Now, ahead of the new platform for the A-segment and B-segment, VAG has decided to replace all three with a newly converted version. More battery, from 16kWh to 36.8kWh, with about the same power and charging options.

Image courtesy of Skoda

Yep, you did read it correctly. Replacing its fossil fuel vehicles (FFVs) with fully electric vehicles (BEVs) is what VAG announced. The ID.3 is the successor of the Passat–Golf–Polo line and will likely replace it over time. But for some years (decades?) both lines will be available.

This is not the plan for the triplets. They are going to be replaced by their fully electric successors. This is really a daring move by VAG. If it succeeds, it will be the only one with a serious electric offering in the very popular A-segment.

Last year, the triplets sold 150,000 units in Europe. If this goes wrong, VAG loses some sales, but gains the reputation of a serious electric carmaker. But if VAG succeeds, it is the only one in this class, and can easily sell somewhere from 150,000 to 250,000 cars per year.

Image courtesy of Skoda

Daimler did convert its dying Smart brand to electric and did bring it under its EQ label, before transferring it to China. It was a signal about being serious, but nothing like this.

This is transitioning a well selling line to electric. This is something no other legacy carmaker has done before.

This class of car is not well known in the USA. There was the Chevrolet Spark and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, but those are tiny niche cars. In Europe, it is an important class with dozens of models. And please don’t call them “city cars,” as the marketing departments like to do. My Renault Twingo has passed over 100,000 highway miles below its wheels.

With the improving production and safety of the last two decades, these small cars became as comfortable as and often more practical than their bigger siblings. Calling them city cars and sometimes even creating handicapped versions was the answer to the cannibalization of their more profitable brand members.

With the advantages of electric driving (one-pedal driving, no transmission, silent, sporty) for a price likely between €15,000 and €20,000, it will be hard for the competition to compete. I personally have high expectations for these cars.

Thanks to Pedro Lima of PushEVs for reminding me frequently of these VW triplets.

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Maarten Vinkhuyzen

Grumpy old man. The best thing I did with my life was raising two kids. Only finished primary education, but when you don’t go to school, you have lots of time to read. I switched from accounting to software development and ended my career as system integrator and architect. My 2007 boss got two electric Lotus Elise cars to show policymakers the future direction of energy and transportation. And I have been looking to replace my diesel cars with electric vehicles ever since. At the end of 2019 I succeeded, I replaced my Twingo diesel for a Zoe fully electric.

Maarten Vinkhuyzen has 279 posts and counting. See all posts by Maarten Vinkhuyzen