The A-segment car is dying in Europe due to what car manufacturers term as over-regulation, and the only way companies see the segment surviving is with electric powertrains. One of these new-age A-segment EVs will be the VW ID.1, the successor to the VW e-up! (and thus the VW up!).
Silke Bagschik, Head of Sales and Marketing (ID. Family), Volkswagen, confirmed the rumoured VW ID.1 on 15 September, 2020. In a virtual investor meeting with UBS, Bagschik revealed that the VW ID.1, presumably the smallest and the most affordable VW ID. electric car, will arrive in 2025 or later.
Automotive News, citing German press reports, says the ID.2 project is on fast-forward and a smaller version of the ID.2 would be the ID.1. Volkswagen has formed a Small BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) team that is leading the ID.2 project to launch in 2023 and it is believed that the same team would deliver the ID.1.
A rendering from Brazilian Instagram account Auto Noticias represents what the ID.1 should look like. The fully electric entry-level ID model is quite similar to the Fiat Panda while holding on to the looks of the ID.3. Volkswagen intends to make the design of the ID family instantly recognizable with a ‘charismatic’ front, striking C-pillars, flowing surfaces, large and expressive wheels, and a profile that is inspired from a honeycomb.
According to a carmagazine.co.uk report, the VW ID.1 internally goes by the codename ‘VW e-Zzity’, with the ‘Zz’ in the name presumably denoting the silent running of the all-electric powertrain. The pure electric city car will be showcased with a concept version in 2023 and put into production in 2025. The design team has already worked on derivatives – a rugged VW ID1 Crozz and a spacious VW e-Roomzz.
Making the business case for an indigenously developed VW up! successor wasn’t easy. In fact, Volkswagen was once considering tying-up with Suzuki, a company that excels at low-cost cars. However, that did not work out. Banking on the cost-effectiveness of its MEB platform, it has decided to roll out a new affordable pure electric city car on its own now. Still, this could mean a much higher price.
To be a five-door minicar, the VW ID.1 will have the footprint of the Up! but will borrow styling cues from the upcoming ID.3 hatchback. According to Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of Volkswagen, it will be 40 per cent cheaper to build electric cars on the MEB platform than on a conventional chassis.
Brandstätter had already told Car Magazine this year that Volkswagen is working on a battery-electric vehicle that will be priced under 20,000 Euros. Though the company already has the e-Up!, that was not an electric car to start with (launched in 2011 as the VW Up! petrol) and has been built on a conventional chassis which puts it at a disadvantage.
Brandstatter repeats in the new Car Magazine report that it would make no sense putting battery cells in a car designed for an engine, and that it was a stepping-stone project.
The British publication said in its first report that the VW ID.1 would be offered with two battery options – 24 kWh and 36 kWh. The battery range will be between 175 km to 250 km, serving the purposes of city driving. The ID.1 will be Volkswagen’s volume product to achieve its target of selling a million EVs a year by 2025, and one competitor we can think of is the Dacia Spring that arrives in the market in early-2021.
Volkswagen kicked off the ID. brand when it started the deliveries of ID.3, the first pure electric car from the range, in Germany this summer. Based on the MEB platform, the ID.3 has been announced in three battery capacities – 45 kWh, 58 kWh and 77 kWh – with a range of 320 km, 420 km and 550 km respectively. Volkswagen says that the ID.3 will be less expensive to both buy and operate than similar-sized combustion engine models and this principal is expected to be true for the ID.1 & ID.2.
Volkswagen India’s first electric car is the VW ID.4 SUV that is expected to launch in 2022.
VW leading the MEB Entry Family’s development after Seat drops out
While Volkswagen’s low-cost EV project was assumed to be sailing smoothly to fruition, the group had encountered challenges. Automotive News reported in early May of 2020 that Volkswagen hadn’t decided which brand to consider for the small electric cars.
In March 2019, it was announced that Seat will lead the development of fully-electric city cars, costing less than 20,000 euros to replace the troika of the electric VW Up, Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii. The cars would be built on the VW Group’s MEB platform that will be heavily modified to be less than 4,000 mm in length. To get the platform to meet the cost target, engineers were looking at smaller electric motors and different battery pack configurations.
However Seat lost the project, which is attributed to its CEO Luca de Meo’s departure to take up the post of CEO of Renault. Another reason is Seat’s postponement of the entry into China, where it was due to collaborate with VW Group’s partner JAC Automobile Group to develop these cars.
With Seat not in the driver seat of the entry-level EV project, Polish auto site Autokult.pl confirmed soon after that Volkswagen had taken over the project which ensures that its plans to sell 1.5 million electric cars a year by 2025 are on track.
During a workshop with a group of journalists, Klaus Zyciora, the head of Volkswagen Group design was asked how long it would take to design and build a small electric car from scratch that would answer the challenges (the demand for personal mobility) following the Coronavirus pandemic. He replied: “We are already building such a car.”
Not entirely sure about what the Polish journalist heard, he called up a spokesman at the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg who admitted that the company is indeed working on an electric model smaller than ID.3.
VW ID.1 at 3.8m length
Auto Motor Und Sport (AMS) in its August 2020 report speculates that the Christmas card released by Volkswagen in 2019 ‘teases’ the silhouette of the design concept of the ID.1. The illustration showed a mini car lacking B-pillars sporting a steeply sloping rear end, strong C-Pillar with a spoiler and a circumferential LED strip.
The German publication writes that the VW ID.1 would not use the traditional MEB architecture that is to be purposed by all of the VW Group brand electric cars, including those from Skoda and Seat.
AMS says that the MEB cannot be scaled down and a shorter wheelbase is not possible. Besides, the smallest battery unit with 48 kWh is too big for a small car. Instead, Volkswagen plans to employ batteries with a capacity of 24 and 36 kWh with a maximum range of about 200 kilometres, which is quite acceptable for vehicles in the small car segment.
A heavily modified version of the MEB to generate cars under 4m length is speculated as being in development. The ID.1 would have a length of around 3.8m while the ID.2 and the ‘Crozz’ variant would measure 4.0m, thinks AMS.
The magazine concludes stating that the ID.1 and ID.2 would not get manufactured in Emden, Germany but in Eastern Europe, presumably in Bratislava, Slovakia where the MEB Entry cars to be made for a launch price of under 20,000 euros due to the lower wage and production costs.