Beleaguered German carmaker Volkswagen has broken cover on its first full electric vehicle in its upcoming ID series, the ID.3 hatchback, at the opening of the Frankfurt International Motor Show.
The ID.3 is intended as the first in a planned onslaught of electric vehicles that the carmaker hopes will finally gain forgiveness from the public for the 2015 Dieselgate scandal, which saw the brand’s reputation irreparably tarnished and its stock plummet.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess seized the opportunity at the German motor show to make an impact with the full unveil of the ID3 which to date had only been seen in red and blue camouflage wraps – along with a refreshed clean logo that the carmaker says represents a “new holistic global brand experience”.
“The car for the new era is here,” said Diess.
“The ID.3 marks the start of a major e-mobility campaign for Volkswagen.”
Marking the official start of VW’s hoped-for redemption, the carmaker is intent on doing it right.
By using 100% renewable energy to produce the car – which is to be made at the carmaker’s Zwickau factory – and its batteries, Diess says that, “The ID.3 is the world’s first overall CO2-neutral electric car.”
To assist drivers in continuing the use of zero emissions energy to power their ID.3s, Volkswagen also says it will offer 100% sustainable options through its subsidiary brand, Elli (Electric Life).
Seen for the first time without camouflage, the ID.3 doesn’t fall too far short of initial “Neo” concept sketch released by the German carmaker just under 12 months ago in September 2018.
There are larger air vents on the nose although the grille area retains the honeycomb-like pattern, as well as the panoramic glass roof that was previously hidden by the camouflaged wrap.
What appeared in the sketch to be cameras forward of the front doors in place of rear vision mirrors are gone however, and what were presumably some kind of sensors enclosed in circular covers on the roof are also gone.
The profile, side windows and hubcaps are true to form, although the back is more like a traditional hatch than the original sketch gave form to.
“The ID.3 is an all-rounder that is suitable for everyday use,” said ID head of sales and marketing Silke Bagschik in a statement ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show opening.
“It is compact, as such offering the manoeuvrability of a small car with the interior space of a mid-range vehicle. It combines exciting design with innovative technology and significant range.”
Inside the vehicle, the electric MEB platform allows for more space which VW claims “sets new standards in teh compact class”.
A central 10″ digital display is complimented by steering wheel controls allows access to all key features and info about the vehicle.
Overall, the production is undeniably Volkswagen, placed somewhere between the Golf and the reborn iconic Beetle, with a “new level of design” developed by the carmaker to signify electric mobility.
“With the ID.3, Volkswagen is heading towards the future,” said VW head of design Klaus Bischoffin a statement. “The natural style and absolutely intuitive driver experience demonstrate a new, electric way of thinking.”
As for specifications, the base variant comes with a 45kWh battery that is a little smaller than originally promised by VW head of e-mobility Christian Senger to AutoExpress last October.
It does have the promised range of 330km (WLTP) however, so the smaller and lighter battery instead can be seen as a positive.
It will also be offered with two larger battery options, namely a mid-range 58kWh battery with 470km range and 77kWh battery with 550km range (both on the WLTP cycle).
Maximum charging rate is 100kW, meaning that 290km range can be added to the battery within 30 minutes.
Price-wise, only a “first edition” version dubbed ID.3 1st with the mid-range battery will be offered to begin with, kitted with a 150kW motor delivering p to 310Nm of torque and top speed of 160km/hr for €40,000 (just under $A65,000 at today’s rates).
Two more trim and feature levels for the ID.3 1st will also be offered.
As per VW’s press release:
The basic version of the ID.3 1st includes a navigation system, a DAB+ digital radio, seat heating and steering wheel heating, armrests at the front, a Mode 2 charging cable and 18-inch light-alloy wheels.
The ID.3 1st Plus additionally features a rear view camera system, ACC Adaptive Cruise Control and the Kessy Advanced keyless access locking and starting system. The vehicle interior of the ID.3 1st Plus also includes design seats, a centre console with two USB-C connections and ambient lighting. Forming part of the exterior equipment scope are tinted windows, the exterior Style package in silver, matrix LED headlights, matrix side lights, brake lights, turn indicators and tail light clusters as well as 19-inch light-alloy wheels.
The top-of-the-range version, the ID.3 1st Max, also includes an augmented reality (AR) head-up display, the Beats sound system, a large panorama sliding/tilting glass roof as well as 20-inch light-alloy wheels. This equipment scope is supplemented by a lane keeping system with Emergency Assist, a lane change system, telephony featuring contactless high-voltage battery charging and comfort seats.
Although Diess said in October that Volkswagen would “come in 2020 with vehicles that can do anything like Tesla and are cheaper by half,” the first edition ID.3 is clearly not this vehicle, with the Model 3 SR+ in Germany currently starting at €43,390 (just onder $A70,000 converted) before on-road costs.
Not a bad start for Volkswagen overall, the ID.3 joins fellow German carmakers Porsche and Audi under the Volkswagen auto group banner, the former of which also just released its all-electric Taycan sportscar on Wednesday evening (Australian time).
The vehicle is not yet for sale in Europe, with production expected to start at Zwuckau in November.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.