Volkswagen greenlights sub-£18,000 electric people’s car

by Greg Kable, Autocar UK 15 Nov 2018

Volkswagen is set to launch an affordable new entry-level electric vehicle as part of a modern-day people’s car project, sources at the German car maker confirm. 

The compact five-seater, described as a compact crossover utility vehicle with raised ride height and exterior dimensions similar to the existing combustion-engined T-Roc, forms part of Volkswagen’s upcoming line-up of I.D. battery-powered models that will kick off with the launch of the Neo hatchback in 2020.

On today’s planning, the new I.D. model will go on sale in 2022 at a price Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess indicates could be as low as €20,000, or just £17,400  (Rs 16 lakh) in the UK.

The keen pricing for what will be the fifth I.D. model after the Neo and production versions of the Crozz, Buzz and Vizzion concepts is a crucial component in a broader plan at Volkswagen to create a contemporary, new electric-powered people’s car in a move aimed at mirroring the success of the original Beetle and its indirect successor - the Golf.

Diess, the architect of Volkswagen’s electric car strategy, recently claimed engineers are working on a car conceived to be priced at half that of the Tesla Model 3 without naming the secret new electric-powered crossover, suggesting it would be on sale within four years.

Autocar UK has been told the idea behind the new I.D. model is to create a car with classless design appeal, outstanding interior space within a compact footprint and the sort of affordability to allow it to appeal to a wide number of car buyers in all of Volkswagen’s existing markets.

As with Volkswagen’s other I.D. models, it is based around the company’s new MEB (Modularen Electrik Baukasten - modular electric architecture) platform with a front-mounted electric motor together with a battery of sufficient capacity to provide a range well over the claimed 186 miles of today’s e-Golf. To keep the price down, it will likely be offered exclusively in front-wheel drive guise, with a series of connectivity options set to be offered as optional equipment.

Together with the primary Volkswagen version, the new zero-emission crossover five-door has been conceived to sire similar models from Audi, Seat and Skoda. 

Production will take place at Volkswagen’s Emden manufacturing plant in Germany, a site which currently produces the Passat and Arteon, with capacity set to top 300,000 units a year. 

Insiders at Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters suggest plans are to switch production of the next-generation Passat and Arteon to Skoda’s Kvasiny plant run in the Czech Republic, which currently produces the Superb, or possibly even a brand-new greenfield site in Bulgaria.

The decision to use the Emden plant for the production of the junior I.D. models means Volkswagen will have installed capacity for well over 1 million electric vehicles by 2022, with its existing Zwickau and Hannover commercial vehicle plants in Germany, as well as joint venture factories operated with SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation) in Shanghai and FAW (First Automobile Works) in Foshan, China accounting for the production of China-only models.

At this stage, there is no indication whether the new entry-level I.D. model will be produced in other factories, though rumours in China suggest it could form the basis of a new joint venture model to be produced between Volkswagen and JAC (Anhui Jianghuai Automobile) under the new SOL electric vehicle sub-brand.

As well as eyeing private and business sales of the new price-leading I.D. model, Volkswagen is believed to have drawn up plans to use it as the basis for a global mobility project under its newly formed Moia subsidiary, which is developing ride-sharing schemes and other mobility solutions.

Volkswagen plans to launch a total of 27 MEB-based models across its four brands - Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda - by 2025.

Also read: Volkswagen eyes big gains in China's EV market with first MEB platform factory

VW completes strategic supplier group for battery cells for MEB-based EVs

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