VW's first MEB-based EV has a lot to offer.

2020 sees the launch of Volkswagen’s first, purpose-built electric car, the ID.3 - so-called because it’s expected to usher in a third age of success, following that of the original Beetle and the Golf. Here are six things you need to know...

It isn’t a Golf

Yep, it may look a bit like a Golf, and be roughly the same size as the Golf, but this is definitely not a Golf.

While the eighth generation, Volkswagen Golf will continue with petrol, diesel and mild hybrid versions, it won’t be available as an EV. That’s where the ID3 comes in. Thanks to better packaging associated with battery electric vehicles, the I.D.3 boasts a roomier cabin, a bigger boot (385-litres) and a better turning circle (10.2m), so it could prove to be both cleaner and more practical than a Golf.

It’s a giant apology to dieselgate

Five years ago, Volkswagen found itself having to pay out billions of Euros in fines for programming its diesel engines to cheat rolling road emissions tests. This corporate cluster bomb became known as ‘dieselgate’ and had the unintended consequence of killing off the very fuel type it was trying to promote, accelerating the shift to electric vehicles. The ID Concept wowed journalists at the 2016 Paris Motor Show and the Volkswagen Group has since presented the production version and announced it is investing €33 billion in electrification by 2024, including €11 billion in the Volkswagen brand alone.

It’s Volkswagen’s Model 3

The EV world’s poster boy Elon Musk and Tesla may currently have a higher valuation than Volkswagen, but it’s worth remembering that the German carmaker makes nearly 30 times as many cars, (11m), while Tesla generates only 10% of Volkswagen’s revenue. Having sold one Golf every 41 seconds since 1974, it’s safe to say VW knows how to make mass volume cars. And this is one old dog that’s also learning new tricks. Taking a lead from the Tesla Model 3, the I.D.3 was also previewed and launched online. Within 24-hours, Volkswagen received a staggering 10,000 pre-orders for the 1st Edition, without a single person seeing the car or taking a test drive. 

Ford wants to use its electric platform

The jewel in the crown of the I.D.3 is actually beneath the skin - a flat, skateboard-like platform that Volkswagen calls ‘MEB architecture’. Like most electric vehicles, it features a battery pack, inverter and electric motor but the unique thing here is that it’s modular - meaning it can be scaled up to accommodate bigger wheelbases and more batteries, feature rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. And this flexibility means the same basic skateboard can be used for beach buggies, camper vans and everything in between. Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat will all use the MEB architecture for its upcoming models and so too will Ford, having agreed to license the technology. 

The cabin is completely new

The ID3 features the most technically advanced cabin Volkswagen has ever made. It’s isn’t full-on Tesla just yet, but gone are the majority of physical buttons and switches, to be replaced by touch-sensitive controls and voice command, where ‘hello ID’ are 

your wake words.  With no traditional centre console, Volkswagen has moved the gear selector behind the steering wheel, and there’s a cool light bar that flashes when the car needs your attention.  

The driver has a cockpit screen that’s customisable; plus a head-up display that projects your speed and navigation controls onto the windscreen. The navigation is intelligent and super-accurate, too, with the ability to factor in your car’s current battery status and charging requirements when en route. 

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