Think New! Is a guiding principle which Volkswagen has adopted for a new generation of highly innovative electric vehicles and the first example to be shown in prototype form is the I.D. concept. Now on display at the 2016 Paris Motorshow, the I.D. gives a preview of a new zero-emission car that the company will begin selling in 2020.
“In 2020, we will begin to introduce an entire family of electric vehicles on the market. All of them will be based on a new vehicle architecture which was specially and exclusively developed for all-electric vehicles. Not for combustion engine or plug-in hybrid vehicles. The I.D. stands for this new era of all-electric vehicles, for a new automotive era: electrical, connected and autonomously driving,” said Dr Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand.
The I.D. shows what comes ‘the day after tomorrow’ and it will be the first Volkswagen on the market to be based on the newly-developed Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). The I.D. is positioned as a compact electric car with which Volkswagen aims to expand its range of high-volume models in parallel to the Polo, Golf, Tiguan and Passat. The price range is expected to be on the level of today’s Golf with comparable power.
Power comes from a 125 kW/170 ps electric motor and with today’s battery technology, the range is claimed as 600 kms on just an electric drive. By 2020, battery technology could have made further advances which enable more energy to be stored and the range could be greater.
The I.D. shows a completely new Volkswagen design language for electric vehicles of the compact class. What is known as the Open Space Concept has been implemented for the first time in its interior.
Somewhat shorter than a Golf, the I.D. offers the generous space of a Passat. This was made possible by the new drive concept architecture with an electric motor on the rear axle and a high-voltage battery in the vehicle floor, which enables more space and flexibility.
At the same time, the I.D. is ready for I.D. Pilot which is to be introduced in 2025. This is an autonomous driving mode that can be activated by touching the VW logo on the steering wheel, which then disappears into the instrument panel and gives the driver an entirely new feeling of space.
The conventional car key has already been fading away, replaced by a pushbutton in many cars today. The I.D. will do away with the pushbutton as well and instead, a smartphone will be used as a ‘Digital Key’ to unlock the doors and enable the car to start.
The idea behind it: in the near future, individuals who drive a Volkswagen will get their own ‘Volkswagen ID’. This ID is an individual profile that stores such information as personal seat and climate control settings, favourite radio stations and music playlists, settings of the sound system, contact data for friends and business partners and the navigation system configuration. This profile is called up via the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.
The I.D. acts as the ambassador of the new Volkswagen product strategy that is based on four fields of innovation – Smart Sustainability, Automated Driving, Intuitive Usability, and Connected Community.
Whether a model like the I.D. will be sold by Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (the new sales company) in the next decade will depend on the recharging infrastructure that is available by then. As things are now, it’s like a ‘chicken or egg’ situation where the demand for recharging stations is dependent on sufficient electric vehicles (EVs) being used but this number is not growing fast due to the relatively high price of such vehicles and the concern that there are only a few places to recharge. If there is an effort to promote EVs, it could only be on a limited basis, eg in Putrajaya where many recharging stations can be set up.
The government would also need to look into enabling lower retail prices for EVs. Some years back, there was full exemption of duties on hybrids and EVs which helped lower their prices to more acceptable levels and sales of hybrids were high but EVs sold only in small numbers due to limited models. There is a provision in the current National Automotive Policy which offers incentives for EVs to lower their prices but it is only applicable for models which are assembled locally. As any carmaker would want sufficient numbers to start assembling vehicles locally, there may not be interest to use this provision.