When Tesla had trouble getting the Model X and Model 3 into production, industry observers were falling all over themselves criticizing the fledgling company for being rank amateurs. Volkswagen has been one of the world’s largest automakers for some time, and even it is finding that building its first electric car — the ID.3 — is a far more daunting challenge than it ever imagined.
The company started series production of the ID.3 First in November, but in late December, it acknowledged the first 10,000 cars are being manufactured without the ability to accept over-the-air software updates. So the cars are being parked in outdoor lots until the company can send teams of software engineers to them to fix the problem. Expect deliveries to begin in late May or early June, Volkswagen said.
Last week, the company held a special event for customers who have pre-ordered an ID.3 in Denmark and told them deliveries in that country will not begin until August. It also had some other bits of bad news — some of them significant and others less so.
- Early First edition cars will not have dual zone climate control.
- No bicycle carrier will be available for cars with a panoramic sunroof.
- The “S” version with the 77 kWh battery will be a four-passenger model only, with no seat belts fitted for a middle passenger in the back seat.
The bad news is summarized in this video by Battery Life:
The comments to the video offer some context. A person from France said that gray is the only free color. All the rest cost an additional €690. (That follows Tesla’s approach.) Apparently, there is a similar event for reservation holders coming up in the UK in a few weeks, where further information about deliveries and options will be available.
Several people expressed dismay that a bike carrier is not available for the cars with the panoramic sunroof, while others commented that the lack of seat belts in the “S” version is probably due to a larger battery taking up room normally reserved for the middle passenger. An alternative explanation is that the larger battery adds so much weight that including a fifth passenger would exceed the maximum load carrying capacity of the car.
Another person suggested Volkswagen might decide to simply eliminate the electric drivetrain and slip a good old-fashioned diesel engine under the hood. I think he was being facetious, but you never know. This comment from Daniel D definitely gets a prize for creative sarcasm: “More bad news: the first 1000 production cars will be coming without wheels. The cars of the proto-series are meant for static application only. However, on the good side of things a VW custom version of GTA V will be built into the infotainment to act as driving simulator.”
Volkswagen will get through this, just as Tesla got through its period of production hell. But the problems it is facing getting its ID-branded cars into production illustrate only too well the difficulties smaller companies who lack the enormous technical and financial resources of Volkswagen will have as they try to switch from combustion engines to electric motors. Building electric cars is not for sissies or the faint of heart.