Volkswagen has revealed the most anticipated car of the 2016 Paris motor show the evening before the doors open. The I.D concept had been much trailed and has been already spoken of as being "as revolutionary as the Beetle was 70 years ago." Wolfsburg fervently hopes that it will be part of a rebuilding programme to revive VW's tarnished image in the wake of the 'Dieselgate' scandal.
While the I.D is a concept car, it has been confirmed that a production version will go on sale in 2020. It uses a single electric motor with 170hp (which should give it performance analogous to that of the BMW i3) and depending on which version you purchase, the one-charge range will be between 400km and 600km. VW has long assumed that a 400km range would represent a tipping point to mass acceptance of electric cars. The maximum 600km range version gives it, currently, the longest-range pure-electric car in the world.
For now, the concept is a four-seater and while we’ll have to wait to see the interior, it’s expected to draw heavily on the recent BUDD-e concept and have a cabin dominated by a pair of huge electronic displays, with both touch control and gesture control.
VW also says that from 2025, the car will be offered with autonomous driving features, although it remains to be seen exactly how ‘hands-off’ these are.
Underneath lies the Volkswagen MEB platform, an all-electric offshoot of the complex MQB chassis that currently lies under the Golf, Passat, Tiguan and so many more models.
The styling of the I.D previews an entire range of all-electric VW vehicles, and with the lack of an engine and the compactness of the electric motors, the designers have been able to pull the car’s cabin much farther forwards, creating an interior which is said to be as roomy as that of the Passat saloon, in spite of the I.D being roughly the size of a Golf.
Price will be the critical factor. Renault has confirmed that its new 400km-capable Zoe will only be around €2,500 more expensive than the existing model. It seems certain that the 600km I.D will carry a significant price premium but the 400km version will be the crucial one – VW has previously stated that it expects the costs of producing an electric car to very quickly come down to parity with that of a conventional petrol or diesel model. Can the I.D match the Golf itself on price when it goes on sale in four years’ time?