Volkswagen has revealed its updated ID Crozz concept car at its regular pre-show bash ahead of the Frankfurt motor show. The ID Crozz had been seen before, in Shanghai back in April, but has been updated and is now said to be much closer to the finished production form.
The ID Crozz is part of the three-car ID lineup, which will kick of sales in 2019 with the ID hatchback, a Golf-sized electric car with a claimed 500km range. The Crozz will follow as an all-electric alternative to the Tiguan, and both will be joined by the ID Buzz, an all-electrci van and MPV inspired by the classic Type 2 Transporter, in 2021.
VW has big plans for its new electric cars, all of which will be based on the new MEB battery-car platform. "As early as 2020 we aim to sell 100,000 all-electric Volkswagens every year. But this is just the beginning. By 2025, annual sales could increase ten-fold to one million vehicles," said VW brand chairman Herbert Diess at the pre-show event.
In terms of changes from the Shanghai show car, the ID Buzz has gained new lights, new bumpers, and new 21-inch alloy wheels, all of which look more close to final production spec. The Crozz concept retains the earlier layout of two conventional front doors, while the two rear doors open on clever cantilevered hinges, but these are unlikely to appear on the final production variant. Expect to see a more conventional interior too, but the Buzz, as with the other ID models, has been designed around a high level of automated driving.
It’s also very roomy. The 4.2-metre length looks locked down, as does the 2.7-metre wheelbase, and thanks to the inherently space-efficient combo of electric motors and batteries, the Buzz is claimed to offer the same cabin volume as the seven-seat Tiguan Allspace, with a 515-litre boot.
Thanks to two electric motors, the Buzz has a fairly impressive 305hp, which is around 135hp more than the single-motor ID hatchback, but around 68hp less than the ID Buzz concept. Quite what power outputs will appear on the final production versions remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely anything but the range-topping Crozz will have as much as 300-odd-horsepower.
Also on the electric front, Volkswagen has said that it plans to offer electric or hybrid versions of every model in its range, following similar claims by Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, and BMW. VW's timeline is rather longer than those of its rivals, who are all gearing up for this new electric future from 2019 onwards. VW says it will be 2030 before it's able to claim and electric version of every model. The 'RoadmapE' does guarantee, says VW Group boss Matthias Müller, electric cars at a similar price to that of conventional cars. He also spoke of the leap to the possible next-generation solid-state batteries that can offer one-charge ranges of as much as 1,000km, as much as twice what the best electric cars can currently offer.
Other VW Group brands are showing off new metal at the same event. Bentley has brought along its rather gorgeous-looking new Continental GT Coupe, which at long last features an interior (and interior tech) worthy of the badge and the price tag. For now, it’s only being shown in in 635hp W12 form, but 4.0-litre V8 and plugin-hybrid versions are coming soon.
Audi has brought along two rather differing cars. The first is a GT version of its V10-engined R8 supercar, which has abandoned the model's usual quattro four-wheel drive in favour of 'purist-spec' rear wheel drive. It'll be sold in strictly limited numbers.
Rather more forward-looking is the Aicon autonomous luxury car. Roughly the same size as a current A6, should also give us a hint as to Audi’s future styling direction (check out the R8-style nose, and the pronounced hexagon shape of the windscreen) as well a new drive system, featuring four electric motors, for fully flexible electric quattro four-wheel drive. The car will also feature a massive battery pack, which is said to be good enough for an 800km one-charge range. Indeed, Audi is describing the concept as a truly long-range electric car, the kind in which passengers can while away a long journey in comfort, or work as they go in a mobile office, with their entertainment and effort augmented by a new Artificial Intelligence system. There are two large, rather comfy-looking, front seats which have an enormous range of adjustment and swivelling options, and a simpler rear bench for occasional rear-seat passengers. The Aicon concept is entirely without steering wheel, or pedals.
Audi has been looking long and hard about how to differentiate premium-badge autonomous, electric cars from mainstream models when the big change finally comes along, and the concept car will likely include elements from its 25th Hour project. Audi reckons that premium car makers are in the best position to turn autonomous cars into the perfect mobile office, clawing back that hour lost every day to commuting. "When cars no longer have a steering wheel, premium mobility can be newly defined. In the future, people traveling from A to B will be able to surf the Internet at leisure, play with their children – or do work at an efficient pace without distraction," says Melanie Goldmann, head of Culture and Trends Communication at Audi. "Together with the experts from the Fraunhofer Institute, we want to find out what is most important for ensuring the optimal use of time in a self-driving car." Audi suspects that buyers might pay more for a more relaxing interior environment, one that doesn't bombard the user with extraneous information or constant social media updates.
Meanwhile, VW-owned Porsche is both bringing along the 911 we've been waiting for, and having something of an existential crisis over diesel. The new 911 GT3 Touring Pack strips the race-car-hardcore GT3 model of its OTT bodykit, and instead gives it a slightly quieter look, complete with a standard-fit manual gearbox. It keeps the GT3's 500hp flat-six engine (with not turbos!) and seems to be, in all essentials, an unlimited version of last-years strictly-limited 911R. Lovely.
On the diesel front, Porsche bosses have confirmed that the new Cayenne SUV will not initially appear with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, as that unit has had to be withdrawn from the range because of concerns over its emissions. According to Autocar magazine, a decision on whether or not to press ahead with a diesel Cayenne at all will be taken in the next few weeks, as Porsche mulls whether to sacrifice the 15 per cent or so of its sales that go to diesel models in favour of a cleaner public image.
That public image thing is clearly not bothering VW itself so much now. Two years on from the breaking of the Dieselgate scandal, VW’s pre-night show at Frankfurt seems to be back up to the same standards of size and exuberance that characterised it before the crisis.