“Our future is in efficient and ‘connected,’” said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess as he introduced his company’s battery-electric product future at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
The VW I.D. Concept, with a claimed range of up to 373 mi (600 km) on a single charge, heralds a blitz of new electrified vehicles based on the company’s new MEB modular platform dedicated to battery-electric models. A production version of the I.D. is planned for 2020, Diess said, with an autonomous version following by 2025. Diess compared the new BEV to the original VW Beetle, promising “it will be a real people’s car” priced about the same as today’s Golf.
The four-door I.D. electric will compete directly with GM’s 2017 Chevrolet Bolt and its near identical twin, the Opel Ampera-e, the latter being unveiled later the same day at Paris. Opel CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann said the Ampera-e will be capable of 500 km (310 mi) range. The EV ranges claimed by both the VW and Opel are based on the NEDC cycle.
VW is configuring the MEB platform to include SAE Level 4 autonomous driving capability by 2025, a feature that the I.D. Concept car and its production version will include, Diess said. VW’s post-Dieselgate goal is to sell 1 million electric cars per year (approximately 25% of volume) by 2025. Beginning in 2021, OEMs in Europe will be expected to cut their fleet-average CO2 emissions from the current level of 130 g CO2/ km to 95g/km. Zero-emission vehicles will be vital to meeting the regulation.
The I.D. concept is 161.4 in (4099 mm) long, six inches (152.4 mm) shorter than a 2016 Golf. Overall width is 70.9 in (180 mm) and the car’s overall height measures 60.2 in (1529 mm). The I.D. rides on a 108.3-in (2750-mm) wheelbase, about 5 in (127 mm) longer than the current Golf. I.D.’s chiseled skin and clever sliding rear doors—no official details yet on exterior panel or body-in-white materials—sit on a rear-drive platform that, combined with short front/rear overhangs, provides a claimed 32.5-ft turning circle.
VW officials at Paris did not provide details on the I.D.'s “flat” lithium-ion battery pack that is mounted in the floor pan. The exceptional 373-mi range being claimed—63 mi/101 km greater than the Chevy Bolt—indicate VW is adopting a new battery strategy for its next-gen EVs. For a look at how much improvement the 2020 car will need, consider VW's current EV, the 2017 e-Golf. Its newly upgraded 36 a·h, 34.9 kW·h battery (a 48% improvement over 2016) will deliver a claimed 200-mi/124 kW range. The company is reportedly in discussions with both Panasonic EV and LG Chem for its next-gen cells.
I.D.'s electric propulsion system also features a 125-Kw (168-HP) traction motor and single-speed gearbox integrated in the multi-link rear axle. The rear propulsion/axle unit is mounted on an isolated subframe for reduced NVH and improved driving dynamics, according to VW engineers. The I.D.’s weight distribution is 48:52 front/rear.
Claimed performance of the concept is zero to 62 mph in less than 8 s and top speed of 99 mph (160 kph). The MEB (modularen elektrifizierungsbanksten) platform is designed for a variety of electric machines and different battery capacities. The charging system will offer both SAE Combo Level 1 and 2 cable charging and wireless inductive. VW claims the system will achieve an 80% state of charge in 30 mins using 220 volts.
VW’s new UX
Mounting the battery down low in the car’s floor structure, a la Tesla Model S, enabled VW designers and engineers to create a cabin that is functionally larger that the car’s exterior indicates—“a Passat-sized interior with a Golf-sized exterior,” Diess noted. Thin-cross-section lightweight seats add to the “Open Space Design” airiness, and in the subsequent autonomous version the car’s steering wheel is designed to telescopically retract (by pushing the VW logo in the center horn hub) into the dashboard during SAE Level 4 operation (what VW calls “I.D. Pilot” mode). Those cars will have a total of 10 LiDARs located around the vehicle, Diess said.
Sideview cameras replace today’s fixed external glass mirrors and a central interior e-Mirror combines data from the three external cameras on a monitor. The images are transmitted from the door mirror cameras on the left and right-hand sides of the car as well as a rearward facing camera. Doing away with the mirrors improves the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
The “I.D.” nameplate is derived from the abbreviation for personal identification—part of VW’s aim to make driving (and being transported by) the I.D. a personalized experience. Drivers of these cars will upload, via smartphone, secured personal information and preferences to the cloud then receive a "Volkswagen ID" that includes personal information and preferences aimed at making the user experience more comfortable.
The concept car also features an augmented-reality head-up display (HUD) to aid driver navigation during SAE Level 2 to 4 operation.
Volkswagen Home-Net, the company’s next-gen connected-car system, will connect the I.D. to the driver’s home. Cameras in the house will enable the I.D. driver to check his or her domicile from the car. The car’s Paris intro included an example of this technology: a family member forgets their key so the I.D. driver looks into the car’s camera and the vehicle sends the picture to the Active Info Display, so that the driver can open the front door using—what else?—an app.