Sep 10, 2019

Volkswagen makes its move in the electric vehicle race

Ben Geman, author of Generate

The production version of the VW ID.3. Courtesy: VW

Volkswagen took the wraps off its ID.3 electric vehicle — one that will be available in Europe and starts at roughly $33,000 for the base model — just ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show yesterday.

Why it matters: The compact EV, which will start deliveries in mid-2020, could be a big step toward production of moderately priced battery-powered cars for a mass market.

  • "Everything about the ID.3, from its size and styling to its battery range and pricing, is aiming for the mass-market category," TechCrunch notes.
  • It's the first vehicle built on VW's electric modular production platform.
  • That's the system that Ford, under a recent agreement with VW, plans to use for building 600,000 EVs for delivery in Europe over the next 6 years.

What they're saying: IHS Markit analyst Tim Urquhart, in a note, says the stakes are very high for the German automaker.

  • "VW needs the ID.3 to present a compelling choice for buyers that would never before have even considered buying an EV, a true electric people’s car," he said.
  • Urquhart also notes that the 4-door hatchback is the tip of the spear for VW's "hugely ambitious" EV strategy, so it "needs to be 'right' straight out of the box," without quality glitches.

Meanwhile, the auto news site Jalopnik calls it "likely their most significant car in decades."

Of note: While it's not for sale in the U.S., the automaker plans to start selling an MEB-produced ID Crozz, a crossover vehicle, here next year (and more info seems to be trickling out this morning).

By the numbers: The vehicle's battery options start at 45 kilowatt hours (kWh) with a range of 205 miles.

  • There's also a 58 kWh version with a 260-mile range, and a 77 kWh battery pack that provides up to about 342 miles of range, VW said.

What's next: There's plenty on display — from production-ready cars to concepts — at the show that opens this week, including the production-version of the Honda E.

Go deeper: Billion-dollar bets on electric vehicles await payoff

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