Jürgen Stackmann, member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for ‘Sales, Marketing and After Sales’. Source: VW
Jürgen Stackmann, member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand with responsibility for ‘Sales, Marketing and After Sales’. Source: VW

Volkswagen has officially opened its order page for the all-electric ID.3 hatchback, in a livestream event in Berlin Thursday night (Australian time) that was met with varying degrees of excitement, and for some, a whisper of disappointment.

The ID.3, as it is now officially known, is the the first of Volkswagen’s all-electric ID series to be built on its modular MEB platform that will underpin a whole new family of zero emissions vehicles from the auto group.

First off the line, a limited run Special Edition ID.3 1st with 550km of range is being offered in the UK and Europe from a starting price of “under €40,000” (converts to under $A64,200), and can be pre-ordered with a €750 ($A1200 converted) deposit.

“With the start of pan-European pre-booking for the ID.3, e-mobility at Volkswagen will become concrete for our customers. From today, everyone can take part,” said Jürgen Stackmann, Volkswagen brand’s chief of sales and marketing, said at the launch event at the DRIVE Volkswagen Group Forum in Berlin.

“With the ID.3, we will be ushering in the third major chapter of strategic importance in the history of our brand, following the Beetle and the Golf.

“With the ID.3, we are making the electric car fit for mass mobility. Initially, we will electrify Europe with the ID.3 and then other regions with further electric models in the ID. family which are to follow in the near future,” he said.

The special edition will be available in four colours, with “high-quality, high-performance equipment”, including convenience features, including voice control and navigation systems, bi-color exterior and interiors as well as a maxi glass roof and augmented heads-up display.

With a 58kWh battery pack (which the carmaker says is a “medium” size out of its final range of battery pack options), the ID.3 1st will offer 420km range based on the WLTP standard.

Only 30,000 units of the special edition ID.3 1st will be made.

Eventually, there will be three battery pack options, ranging from 45kWh for 330km range to 77kWh for 550km range (both on WLTP standard).

While its certainly a exciting moment for VW, which has spent the last 4 years planning a redemption from the “Dieselgate” scandal in which it was caught out fudging emissions testing by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the pricing isn’t exactly what people had hoped for.

With VW chief Herbert Diess promising last year that the carmaker would be selling EVs like Tesla but “cheaper by half” by 2020, it was thought that “electric for everyone” (as the carmaker’s motto goes) would mean a price tag of somewhere in around €20,000-25,000.

The carmaker has now said that the 45kWh version of the ID.3, when it becomes available, will start at less than €30,000 ($A48,150 converted), which is over half the price of a 560km long-range Tesla Model 3 (WLTP), which starts at €54,800 ($A88,000 converted) but with considerably less range.

In addition to the let-down in price, the carmaker has only released camouflaged photos of the ID.3 – one of which was leaked yesterday.

In Australia – which still suffers from a distinct lack of choice when it comes to electric vehicles compared to overseas – the ID.3 is expected to arrive within the next few years.

But while VW Australia’s brand experience manager Kurt McGuiness has previously told The Driven that Australia would be part of an ” early international introduction of models” starting from 2021, it appears that Australia’s failure to improve emissions regulations may see that date pushed back.

In a media statement released on Thursday, VW Australia’s managing director, Michael Bartsch, said that Australia is “in danger of losing its place in the queue for EVs because this country’s automotive regulations have fallen behind the first-world norm”.

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