At a ceremony recently held at Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant, VW CEO Herbert Deiss announced the commencement of series production of its ID.3, which will be launched in European markets early next summer before crossing the Atlantic to the USA. The basic version will be marketed in Germany at less than 30,000 euros ($33,487). In a manner similar to how Tesla markets its models, the ID.3 will be available with three different battery choices: a 45 kWh battery with a max range of 205 miles, a 58 kWh battery with a max range of 261 miles, or a 77 kWh battery with a maxi range of 341 miles.
By John Coulter, Current EV CMO
The I.D. “badge” stands for Intelligent Design. Vehicles wearing the badge will be members of a new line of e-mobility vehicles created with Next Gen aesthetics and visionary technology. The VW I.D. layout, with a short hood and long wheelbase, no driveshaft or exhaust tunnel, creates a low center of gravity, and a higher seating position. With batteries hidden below the car, ID models will offer a flat floor and “lounge-like” interiors.
VW has previously announced it intends to launch “almost 70 new electric models” by 2028. Last march it said it would spend over 30 billion euros on vehicle portfolio electrification by 2023. VW grabbed the 2018 auto sales crown, emerging as the world’s No. 1 automaker with 10.8 million vehicles. Under pressure from a European Union mandate to deliver a 37.5% cut in carbon dioxide emissions between 2021 and 2030, on top of a 40% cut in emissions between 2007 and 2021, German carmakers have accelerated plans to launch their EV lines.
The VW Zwickau facility, previously an internal combustion engine factory, has gone through a 1.2 billion euro conversion to become an EV-Only factory. From 2021 it will have the capacity to produce 330,000 pure electric vehicles annually.
Deiss says VW’s ID.3 will “make an important contribution to the breakthrough of e-mobility. It makes clean individual mobility accessible to millions of people and is a milestone for our company on the road to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.”
Major player VW intends to become the largest producer of EVs in the world. It has some catching up to do, especially with Tesla. But the EV product line it has spent years researching and developing is now finally being pushed into production and will soon gain warp speed. Competition is fierce. Along with VW’s ID.3, Tesla is about to debut its Model Y, an electric compact crossover utility vehicle (CUV). Mercedes is about to release its EQC, the first pure electric vehicle produced under its newly-created product and technology brand EQ. The Mercedes global EV offensive calls for a fleet of 10 pure electrics to be in its product line by 2025. And BMW is about to release its fully electric iX3 SUV. BMW is on a mission to develop no less than 12 fully electric and 13 plug-in hybrid models over the next four years. How will all these cars be charged? In Europe, BMW, Daimler, Ford and VW are working on creating a massive infrastructure; a consortium between BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen is developing a fast charging network which will cover the entire European continent. Says VW CEO Deiss: “For us, the most important task to solve is fast charging on the European autobahn, motorway network. We are well on the way, but there is more need for charging, that’s for sure.”
In the United States, as part of its settlement with the EPA for cheating on emissions tests for its diesel car ratings, VW created Electrify America; an initiative that will spend $2 billion (40% of it in California) on creating public charging stations over the next decade. The stations being installed across the country will offer a new capability called Plug&Charge. When you pull up to one, all you’ll have to do is plug in. The charger will recognize your vehicle and bill you automatically. Pulling up an app on your cellphone, engaging a credit card or finding an RFID tag on your key ring will no longer be necessary. The Plug&Charge operation is made possible by Hubject, a joint venture formed in 2012 by companies including Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Bosch, and Siemens. Their stated goal is to make charging electric cars as easy as possible.
How will a Plug&Charge station recognize your car? Automakers will be installing their EVs with a Plug&Charge chip and software. Mercedes will equip its EQ and forthcoming EQC cars with the Plug&Charge kit. And Audi (owned by VW) is putting the kit in its e-Tron SUV. More OEMs will follow suit, as the Plug&Charge offensive is part of ISO 1511 –a global consensus-based protocol created by the International Organization for Standardization. Located in Geneva, Switzerland, ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies,
VW CEO Herbert Deiss has also stated that his company “will offer private home charging devices for below 400 euros which will be also very, very attractive. Most people will charge at home, at the supermarket, or at work but we need a policy, a national policy to speed up the build-up in infrastructure and I think the government is prepared to help.”
At the VW ceremony, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that, “We can now say that Zwickau is a pillar of today’s German auto industry and of its future. Our task as politicians is to create a framework where new technological innovations can take hold.” Merkel said the German government would invest 3.5 billion euros ($3.90 billion) to 2035 in building charging stations for electric cars. She has indicated she’d like to see one million charging stations by 2030, and has urged carmakers and utility companies to play their part in helping to build the necessary infrastructure.
On the same day that VW made its announcement concerning I.D.3 production, the German government and its car industries agreed to increase joint subsidies for the purchase of EVs and plug-ins. The agreement was reached following a Monday evening "car summit" aimed at fostering the mass production of cleaner transportation. Via a new plan, consumer subsidies for electric cars costing less than 40,000 euros ($44,500) will increase to 6,000 euros (about $6,700) from 4,000 euros. Purchasers of plug-in hybrids in this price range would be given a subsidy of 4,500 euros, up from 3,000 euros. For electric cars over 40,000 euros, there will be an increase in the subsidy by 25%. Any car priced over 60,000 euros will not supported by the scheme. Industry and government will evenly split the cost of the subsidies, which will be extended from the end of 2020 to the end of 2025.