Volkswagen releases the ID3, the Electric Car for Everyone

At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen announced the ID3 – one of five new Volkswagen brand models based on the MEB platform, and their first long-range, reasonably priced electric car.

First displayed as a concept car at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, the ID3 will finally be available to European buyers starting mid-2020 at about $33,000, but no official date was announced for the US and China.

Similar to the popular Golf, the ID3 is a small, family-friendly 5-door hatchback and even has the potential to rival it. The group plans to sell three million electric cars per year by 2025 and to do that, the ID3 was designed with simplicity and versatility in mind. There are no out-of-this-world gadgets or crazy features on the ID3, or radical additions to raise the price to exorbitant amounts. The ID3 is a normal car that simply works, offering the practicality of the Golf in a new, environmentally-friendly version.

Specs at-a-glance:

  • Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.0 sec
  • Max speed: 160 km/h
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Energy consumption: 15.0 kWh/100km
  • 0 CO2 emissions

Drivers who buy the ID3 will be able to choose from three different battery capacities. The base model, retailing under $33,000, comes with a 45kWh battery and a range of 330 km (205 miles). The mid-spec model comes with a 58kWh battery and a range of 420 km (260 miles), while the top-spec model has a 77kWh battery and a 550 km (341 miles) range. Volkswagen did not give any pricing information on the mid and top-spec versions of the ID3. All batteries come with an 8-year or 160,000 km (99,400 miles) warranty.

On the outside, the ID3 is surprisingly similar to the Golf, but on the inside, it’s much more spacious, which is a great selling point for families. Because Volkswagen removed the internal combustion engine and placed the electric motor on the rear axle, there’s now more cabin space and storage will not be a problem. There is more than enough legroom in the back and Christine Leuderalbert, head of product marketing, even joked that they considered adding a third seat in the front, because there was enough space for it.

And while the ID3 doesn’t quite match Testa’s Model 3 in terms of sleek minimalism, the cabin, now more spacious, looks considerably more luxurious than what Golf drivers are used to. The dashboard features a 10-inch touchscreen and, apart from the windows and hazard lights, everything is touchscreen-controlled and has haptic feedback. The driving mode buttons are located on the left side of the steering wheel, making them easier to access. Overall, the inside of the Volkswagen ID3 combines minimalism with an intimate human touch.

The Volkswagen ID3 also has an intuitive infotainment system with three home screens where drivers can see the navigation, music, climate, phone, and vehicle controls. Everything is within reach without having to take your eyes off the road and the wording on controls also feels more “human” compared to what we’re used to. Settings like “cold feet” or “warm hands” make this car friendlier and easier to get familiar with. There’s even a “flutter” feature on the headlights that makes the lights slightly flicker when the driver approaches, as if saying hello.

Volkswagen also added a virtual voice assistant that wakes on the “Hey ID” command and can play music, adjust the temperature, or make calls. One interesting touch is that there are two microphones for the driver’s and passenger’s seat, so if the passenger says they’re cold, then the assistant will only adjust the temperature on their side.

Volkswagen wanted to make navigation safer and help drivers receive directions without taking their eyes off the road. To this end, they added a smart LED strip below the windshield that changes colors when the driver has to take a turn or when the battery needs charging. There’s also a wireless charging matt for smartphones and drivers can opt for an AR display that projects information on the windshield. If you’re a music junkie, you can upgrade to a Beats stereo audio package. This car features USB Type C ports and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be supported through Wireless App Connect.

All ID3 models, regardless of the battery, are equipped with automatic emergency braking, lane assist, and lane keep functionalities, so the car should have great performance on busy city streets.

In the first 24 hours after Volkswagen announced the ID3, they received 10,000 buyer reservations, so the ID3 is definitely a car to look out for. Reviews from the first test drives have been mostly positive and enthusiasts say that the new ID3 has the potential to live up iconic VW models like the Beetle and the Golf. Four years after Dieselgate, Volkswagen managed to pivot and is making great efforts to position itself on the electric vehicle market. With the Audi E-Tron (also owned by Volkswagen), which was the group’s first electric SUV and the newly released ID3, Volkswagen is now expanding its reach and catering to the general public too, not only tech enthusiasts. The ID3 also features the new Volkswagen badge, which has a retro feeling to it and stays consistent with the brand’s mission to return to its core value: the people.

Unlike other full-electric models, which may appear as intimidating to beginners, the ID3 is just the right combination of familiar and innovative. The electric motor and modern infotainment system are wrapped in the classic skin of the Volkswagen Golf, which will undoubtedly attract Golf drivers looking for an upgrade. Combined with the extra space and the decent battery autonomy, the ID3 could become a more than valid option for drivers who would consider switching to an electric car, but without paying so much for a futuristic design and high-end features they’ll never use.

Although the ID3 is currently not available in the US, Volkswagen did tease its bigger version, the ID4, which will presumably be available in the US in late 2020.

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