Volkswagen has started taking preorders in Europe for its first long-range electric car, and is also finally sharing some details about how much it will cost and what it will be capable of.
Dubbed the ID.3, VW will sell three versions of the all-electric hatchback. The cheapest will start at “under €30,000” (about $33,600) and will travel 330 kilometers (about 200 miles) on a single charge using a 45kWh battery. The car will also be sold in 58kWh and 77kWh configurations, which will get 420 km (261 miles) and 550 km (342 miles), respectively. All models will be capable of 125kW DC fast charging. Preorders require a €1,000 (about $1,118) deposit and production is slated to begin at the end of this year. Deliveries start in Europe in mid-2020.
VW didn’t announce exact pricing for the higher-range models, or any further specs (hence the light blue and pink camouflage). That will all have to wait until the full reveal later this year. But it did say it will sell a limited “first edition” version of the midrange car for “less than €40,000” (about $44,760). The company will make 30,000 of these “ID.3 1st” cars, and buyers will get up to 2,000kWh of charging for free during the first year.
The ID.3 1st will, itself, come in three flavors. The basic version will include voice control functionality and a navigation system. The “ID.3 1st Plus” edition will come with fancier interior lighting and a two-tone exterior. The “ID.3 1st Max” will be “packed with innovations,” VW says, like an augmented reality heads-up display. It will also have a large panoramic glass roof.
All versions of the ID.3 will be upgradeable via software updates, according to Jürgen Stackmann, the head of sales and marketing for Volkswagen’s passenger cars division. But he said at a press conference Wednesday that those updates will come either through the VW dealer network or over-the-air, and didn’t offer any more clarity about how they’ll be administered.
Stackmann also said VW will offer a full warranty on the ID.3’s battery for up to eight years, 160,000 km (just under 100,000 miles), or the depreciation of the battery to 70 percent of its original maximum capacity. He added that the car will be equipped with advanced driver assistance technology, but did not go into detail about pricing.
The ID.3 will be the first car built on the Volkswagen Group’s “modular electric toolkit” or “MEB” — a technological platform for EVs that includes the battery pack and motor. Volkswagen Group plans to use the modular MEB platform to power a wide variety of electric cars for basically every brand under its roof, from VW to Audi to Porsche. Because the batteries make up the floor of the platform and the electric motor tech can be placed right on the cars’ axles, there’s no need for the same kind of “drivetrain tunnel” found in most internal combustion cars. As a result, the ID.3 will offer interior space comparable to what’s found in a midsize car in an overall package that’s the same size as a VW Golf, Stackmann said.
The MEB platform is meant to be the foundation for the Volkswagen Group’s target of making 22 million electric cars in the next decade. The company believes manufacturing the technical platform for electric cars at this scale will drive down costs enough to bring the price of EVs more in line with that of combustion cars. The MEB platform is also supposed to help usher in a “new chapter” for the Volkswagen Group, Stackmann said, one that leaves combustion and diesel engines — including the ones the automaker designed to cheat emissions regulations as part of the Dieselgate scandal — in the past.
That potential cost reduction, along with the fact that the platform is modular and can be made to fit different sized vehicles, means Volkswagen Group might be able to build a whole business around MEB. The company has already flirted with the idea of licensing out the tech to other automakers that want to get a jump-start on making electric cars, and Stackmann said Wednesday that the German automaker has started talks with some electric vehicle startups, though he did not name any specifically.
Some EV startups are trying to beat Volkswagen Group to this idea. One startup, Rivian, has already signed up Ford and Amazon as investors and customers of the modular EV platform it designed to power the company’s own electric pickup truck and SUV. Another, the Saudi Arabia-backed Lucid Motors, has also floated the idea of licensing its own tech to other automakers. In fact, Lucid Motors and Volkswagen Group held discussions about a potential investment from the German automaker at one point not long after the Dieselgate scandal broke, according to a former employee familiar with the talks. Even struggling startup Faraday Future designed its thoroughly-delayed first car, the FF91 SUV, around a modular electric platform.