VW is making a bold pitch with its new fully-electric ID.3: emobility for the masses, that means electric mobility for the millions, not only for the millionaires.
So says its brand director for Ireland, Gerrit Heimberg, at the first event to introduce the new car to its first 400 or so Irish buyers.
While the new ID.3, with a range of 420km on a single charge, is not due on our roads until next summer, customers had the chance to place a €1,000 deposit to pre-book the car since earlier this year. So far 36,000 have signed up globally for the first edition of the car, with about 100 slots still left open for Irish buyers.
However, while VW bills the new car as significant as the “the people’s car” Beetle, its mass appeal will be limited by its price tag: starting at just under €40,000 for the introductory 1st edition model, a price that’s inclusive of the €10,000 in Government grants. Three specification levels are on offer, rising to just under €50,000 after grants. That’s not exactly in the price range of the Irish masses.
To help overcome the purchase price pain, VW has come up with a new payment scheme for the car. While Personal Contract Plan (PCP) schemes normally carry deposits of between 20 and 30 per cent, under the ID plan scheme, buyers may opt for no deposit up to a maximum of 10 per cent. At the other end of the three years the guaranteed minimum future value (GMFV) is fixed at 50 per cent of the car’s price. VW executives are suggesting an indicative APR interest rate of 1.9 per cent for the new plan.
All this ultimately means its more of a rental than an ownership model, with the resale value risks carried by Volkswagen. In the current climate that might seem like a tempting offer for many buyers, given the uncertainty over Brexit along with fears that advances in battery tech will make a three-year old ID.3 seem old-school. As an indication, VW suggests the monthly payments for an ID.3 would be €409 for 36 months.
VW’s Heimberg reckons up to 50 per cent of ID buyers may opt for this ID payment plan.
Buyers of the ID and future models can order their home charging wallbox at the same time as they put in the order for their car. Most will opt for a 7.4kW unit, which will recharge the ID battery from empty in 8 1/2 hours. Thanks to the €600 Government grant on offer, it means it won’t ultimately cost the buyers anything.
VW is also part of the Ionity group, currently rolling out superfast public charging stations in Ireland. It also has big plans to enter the electricity market, courtesy of its sister company Elli. Ultimately, it will aiming to enter the energy supply market, offering a one-stop shop for electricity supply for home and car.
For now it has its We Connect scheme, which lets customers set up an account for their electric car and recharge at all the various recharging stations, with the costs all coming in one single monthly bill. That's much better than many electric car owners in Europe, who must have separate accounts with different competing e-charging providers. It will also offer a monthly subscription service, similar to mobile phone operators, where you have access to an agreed amount of electricity charge every month at a single monthly fixed price.
As to the car itself, it’s a smart looking large hatchback, similar in length to a Passat but with noticeably impressive rear seat legroom in the back thanks to the battery stored in the floorpan. Bootspace is 385 litres. Inside has been given the usual array of tech bells and whistles, including a sizeable central touchscreen and a heads-up display.
While the first wave of ID.3 cars coming to Ireland will be fitted with the mid-range 58kW battery offering the 420km range, it will be followed by variants with 48kW with a 330km range and 77kW with 550km range. However, VW’s Irish executives reckon the 420km range is more than capable of coping with most Irish motoring needs. They also say the 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds, similar to the Golf GTi, will impress potential buyers.
According to VW’s Gerrit Heimberg, post-dieselgate scandal, the car giant is conscious of its environmental responsibilities. “We know that one per cent of global CO2 emissions attributable to VW Group vehicles, because they account for 10 million vehicles on our roads. We are conscious we have a huge responsibility and we have to play our part in that, together with our customers. Volkswagen has committed to the Paris Climate Agreement and a strategy to become fully CO2-neutral by 2050. That means we want to provide emissions-free mobility for all our customers.
“The answer will be an entire new range of products built on the new MEB platform, designed and dedicated to electric cars. The ID.3 is just the start. It will be followed by more than 50 new fully-electric cars arriving on the market between now and 2025. Next summer will come an SUV model, currently titled the ID.Cross and then with the ID.Bus.
“It’s a new era, because you know about our heritage. Our company has democratised mobility to the masses with the introduction of the Beetle. Then in 1974, we brought the Golf, which was a big change but also democratised comfort and safety in cars. We will do the same now with the ID.3. It will be e-mobility for the masses, that means electric mobility for the millions, not only for the millionaires. This is our mission.”
For those outside the 400 pre-bookers, there will be a chance to see the new ID.3 on Friday and Saturday on Grafton St, Dublin and then again next summer, when VW's sponsorship of the Uefa European Championships will see numerous ID.3s zipping around Dublin during the Irish-hosted matches. And after the 1st editions arrive it's likely to be the start of 2021 before we really see decent volumes of the "people's electric car" on our roads.