The first car on the MEB platform that is headed for production has been launched today in Paris. Volkswagen’s chairman, Herbert Diess, was on the stage early this morning to unveil the new concept, dubbed I.D., at the Paris Motor Show.
That I.D. won’t be available for purchase until 2020, unfortunately, but it is a look into the future of the brand and the Group.
It has now officially been confirmed that the Volkswagen I.D. will be rear engined and rear-wheel-drive, much like the original Beetle. This fact has not been lost on Volkswagen, whose press releases have made the comparison a number of times.
That said, unlike the Beetle, the I.D.’s engine is actually between the wheels, which is part of what gives it a 47/53 weight distribution, front to back. That figure is helped by the battery packs, which sit in the middle of the car, under the passengers.
These come in units that can be attached added easily in the factory, to give the I.D. more or less battery capacity as need and price dictate. Although these fit together like Lego at the factory, the ID’s designer, Christian Senger, says that buyers won’t be able to add more battery packs after their car is built.
The batteries will power a 168 hp electric motor for between 249 and 373 miles. That range will be affected by the amount of battery packs selected. More money for more distance.
With all the drivetrain and batteries hidden under the passengers, there is more space for them. According to Volkswagen, the ID has the exterior dimensions of a Golf with the interior space of a Passat. And indeed, the interior is voluminous.
Along with the power and range and space, comes autonomous driving capability. The concept comes with a retractable steering wheel, allowing the driver to hand over control to the ID and giving him or herself more room in the cabin.
Such autonomous technology may not be available in four years when the ID is launched, though. "There are companies who jumped very quickly into a high level of autonomy," says Hinrich Woebcken, head of VW's North America Region. "That is not Volkswagen."
Despite that, the ID will certainly have all the necessary hardware to allow autonomous driving. Four pucks rise up out of the roof of ID concept to reveal sensors that some day will allow the ID’s passengers to get around without driving.
Despite the autonomous mode, Senger says that sport or performance models will continue to be made. They just make too much sense. So driving dynamics are still being considered.
Although this may all sounds automotive, VW is adamant that the I.D. isn't just a car. It's a big mobile device.
The ID will host apps to let you know about traffic, road dangers, the state of your home and more. Volkswagen also envisions that the ID, and indeed all future VWs, will recognize you from your key before you even step in and will have all of your settings, music, and preferences ready-to-go, which should work well with the ride sharing service Volkswagen announced on Wednesday.
No price has been quoted yet, but Volkswagen has said that the I.D. will cost roughly as much as a Golf TDI does in Europe.
That said, the I.D. is not intended to replace the Golf, says Woebcken. It will, however, replace the e-Golf, which is also slated for a bump in range and will now be sold nation wide.