Volkswagen electric cars: VW's EV range revealed

Published: 15 August 2019

► Everything you need to know about electric VWs
► Your Volkswagen ID sub brand briefing
► The EV hardware bound for 22m cars 

The electric ID brand is as significant to Volkswagen as the Beetle was in 1945 and the original Golf in 1974. In their different ways, they transformed the company. Can ID do the same at a time when VW is still being buffeted by the aftershocks of Dieselgate? This is a revolution in vehicle design and manufacture that’s about to get very real, with VW committed to putting its first production ID on sale in 2020 for the price of a decent Golf diesel. 

In late 2018 a senior board member was quoted by Reuters saying that VW would stop building internal combustion engines by 2026. While VW isn’t dropping petrol and diesel just yet, its investment in electrification is vast; there’s no turning back now. The only question is how long the electric and internal-combustion product lines will co-exist. The £5.3bn programme includes £1.1bn at its Braunschweig, Salzgitter and Kassel sites, with a further £1bn at Zwickau. That investment in production capacity is necessary because VW expects to be building 100,000 ID models in 2020, rising to 10 times that in 2025.

Key to the programme, which will see the roll-out of 27 EV models from Seat, Skoda, Audi and VW worldwide by 2022, is its modular electric drive matrix or MEB platform. ‘This is the world’s first platform dedicated to electrification,’ Christian Senger, head of the e-mobility product line, told CAR.

The boss speaks

Thomas Ulbrich, VW’s head of electric vehicles, spelt out some of the detail at the FT Future of the Car Summit in London. ‘Our decisions are done. Our planning is in progress. We will have the ID 3 here in the middle of next year. There will be 70 new fully electric VWs by 2028; an investment of €30 billion in e-mobility by 2023; 22 million EV sales for the VW Group by 2028.

‘Yes those are high figures. That’s the only way. The future is electric. There’s a huge challenge in the next decade to follow the Paris climate targets. In global emissions of CO2, the transportation sector is responsible for 14 per cent. And within that 14 per cent, VW is one per cent.


‘We have chosen electrification of our portfolio. The global EV market is gaining momentum. By 2025 the UK and Germany will be up by 15 per cent, the US by six per cent, China by 17 per cent.

Key to this is the MEB platform, which has different design opportunities, different wheelbase, including the ID 3, SUVs, shooting brakes. We have roughly 15,000 pre-bookings in a week; in the UK, it crashed the internet.

‘There will be 15 million MEB vehicles in the first wave, to 2025, at an average volume of one million a year, produced at eight sites [four in Germany, one in the Czech Republic, one in the US, one in China].

‘We want this platform to be shared by other OEMs; smaller companies can join the electrified world.

‘Everybody knows there’s a lot of hesitation, a lot of questions, about sustainability, choice of cars, price, range, charging. The electric car is the most efficient and best way to reach the climate targets for a volume player.’

The ID range: Volkswagen's EVs explained

Each of the ID models, which will range from A-segment through to a saloon, SUV and a seven-seater, will have the interior space of the class above,’ explained Andreas Köhler of the MEB’s electronic project management team. 

With an anticipated 10 million vehicle sales across all VW Group brands during the first wave of electrification (and now we know up to 22m by the end of the 2020s), there’s been considerable focus on component sharing and cost cutting. The use of an all-steel platform will help; it’s far cheaper than a lightweight aluminium alternative.

But the big cost challenge will be in the less familiar area of battery costs. As VW makes the transition from internal combustion to electrification, it needs to not only master the use of batteries but secure a reliable, cost-effective supply of the raw materials, while being on the lookout for technical advances.

VW ID.3

The new VW ID.3 electric car is the first Volkswagen EV scheduled for series production, and therefore the first of the brand’s new ID series. What does ID stand for? Ignore dieselgate? Not quite; instead we're told it stands for 'intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies.'

It doesn’t really matter either way, but what is important is just how big VW thinks the ID brand will be; it’s calling the ID.3 the third major chapter after the Beetle and the Golf. That's a big claim.

The ID.3 will have a CO2 balance of zero. ‘We have investigated the supply chain. Our suppliers use green energy. Our Zwickau factory has already changed to green energy. Elsewhere we will use a compensation scheme [ie carbon trading],’says Ulbrich. But other aspects of the grand plan were still, he said, works in progress, for example whether the owner of an ID 3 will use green electricity, and the recycling of the car.

VW ID Crozz

Volkswagen announced its I.D. Crozz concept is heading for production in 2020, and has taken the time to update the four-door-coupe-cum-SUV-cum-EV to reflect the direction the company is moving. It'll hit the VW line-up in the same year as the four-door I.D., and they'll be joined in 2022 by the I.D. Buzz, which apes the famous VW Bulli. 

The Volkswagen I.D. Crozz concept follows on from the original I.D hatchback concept and the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz show vehicle.

VW ID Roomzz

The new Volkswagen ID Roomzz concept car has been unveiled on the eve of the 2019 Auto Shanghai motor show, showing how VW’s electric car range is expanding at a dizzying rate. And this is no flight of fancy; it’s previewing a new type of crossover/MPV mash-up, due to go on sale in China in 2021. European sales are likely to follow suit, according to Wolfsburg top brass CAR spoke to.

It’s no accident that the new EV is being shown in China; this is the world’s biggest zero-emissions market and this week’s car show will be festooned with battery-powered electric cars. In 2018, some 950,000 electric new cars were registered in China, out of a mind-boggling total of 22 million registrations.

VW ID Vizzion

Volkswagen’s ID electric car branding feels amazingly well established already considering we’re not actually expecting the first production version until 2021. The 2018 Geneva motor show brought a fourth concept example, the super-sleek VW ID Vizzion. 

The ID Vizzion follows the original the ID hatch (a kind of electric Golf substitute), the ID Crozz coupe-SUV and the ID Buzz van/MPV, and immediately establishes itself as a strong contender for the ID with the daftest name.

In terms of looks, the Vizzion is perhaps the least outlandish ID model yet – but with absolutely no hint of a steering wheel or pedals inside and lots of talk of artificial intelligence-led autonomous driving, it totally gets its futuristic mojo back when it comes to technology.

VW ID Buzz

Volkswagen has committed to bringing its Microbus minivan back from the dead - as a heavily stylised, all-electric fashion wagon.

It's due in showrooms in 2022 and will be based heavily on the ID Buzz concept car 

VW ID. Buggy

Volkswagen is bringing back the dune buggy but, this time, it’s all-electric. The VW ID Buggy might be just a concept for now, but CEO Herbert Diess confirmed at the 2019 Geneva motor show that it was considering launching it by collaborating with third-parties to make such niche cars viable.

Wolfsburg has confirmed it is opening up its modular electric car platform, dubbed MEB, to other manufacturers - and the ID Buggy is one vehicle that could be realised by such open-source thinking. Could we be about to enter a new dawn of coachbuilding, flexible EV chassis lending themselves particularly well to such individualisation? It seems likely...

Electric Volkswagens: the new ID EV tech explained

VW's new MEB electric car architecture will be used in 27 VW Group electric vehicles by 2022

With an anticipated 10 million vehicle sales across all VW Group brands during the first wave of electrification (and now we know up to 22m by the end of the 2020s), there’s been considerable focus on component sharing and cost cutting. The use of an all-steel platform will help; it’s far cheaper than a lightweight aluminium alternative.

But the big cost challenge will be in the less familiar area of battery costs. As VW makes the transition from internal combustion to electrification, it needs to not only master the use of batteries but secure a reliable, cost-effective supply of the raw materials, while being on the lookout for technical advances.

CAR lives with a VW Golf GTE plug-in hybrid

How VW ID electric cars work

Said Senger: ‘Today 40% of an EV’s cost is the battery and while the cost of components like electric motors and power electronics has halved we won’t achieve cost parity until 2025, not before. We have to reduce battery costs but in the meantime reduce complexity by simplifying the architecture is a move in the right direction.’

Like the MEB, the battery pack is modular. According to the new WLTP assessment, the entry-level battery will offer 200 miles of range. The next step up is around 270 miles.

A third, yet to be confirmed, is expected to hold enough charge to offer a 340-mile range. Initially, the entry hatch in 2020 will only get the middle-sized battery, expected to be 48kWh; the most powerful is likely to debut in an SUV.

Volkswagen is about to start mass-producing its own electric car batteries

The lithium-ion batteries (above) are still undergoing development, according to Dr Armin Modlinger, responsible for developing cell technology for all the VW brands; he’s based at the pilot line for battery cell production being built in Salzgitter. VW is using both prismatic and pouch cells for the most efficient packaging and easier handling. ‘We need to increase the energy density to improve range by adding more nickel to the cathode and silicon to the anode,’ he said. 

Crucially, because the ID range will be built on a global scale, including the USA and China, the batteries are ‘cell agnostic’ – able to accommodate locally produced cells.

According to Modlinger, solid state batteries – with their improved safety and higher energy density – are not likely to appear until the end of the 2020s.

ID is not just about electrification. When the first production ID is launched, it will be the first VW to be permanently connected to the cloud via 4G, and it is being future-proofed for 5G. VW has developed a completely new end-to-end electronics architecture, branded E3, together with the new vw.OS operating system allowing the car’s software to be remotely updated. 

A trio of separate application servers control various functions on the car: an infotainment server for third-party apps; an autonomous driving server; and a third server that is only accessible via VW’s digital platform.

Electric Volkswagen recharging

VW is part of the Ionity partnership with Daimler, BMW and Ford, which plans to open 400 charging sites with an average of six charge points per site across Europe in 2020; as demand and technology evolve, these will be able to charge at up to 350kW and 920 volts.

Senger dismissed concerns about battery recycling and the prospect of a dead li-ion battery mountain, revealing that VW is working with both universities and industry to develop recycling processes that will recover 97 per cent of the batteries’ chemicals, although that is unlikely to emerge before 2025 when there are sufficient EVs on the road to make it financially viable. 

‘Before then we could just replace any cells that fail and rebalance the battery or remove the battery and use it for stationary storage – there will be  a huge market for this as the pricing is higher than in the automotive value chain.’

Credit where it’s due: hasn’t VW been forced into this by  Elon Musk and Tesla?’ Senger says: ‘Tesla proved that people like EVs and that it’s not just about being CO2 compliant. If Model 3 had been on time – yes, that would have been a serious threat.’

How to charge your electric Volkswagen

Volkswagen has announced a new mobile quick charging station that can be delivered anywhere to power its forthcoming range of electric cars.

Designed to enable a quicker ramping-up of the EV infrastructure, VW reckons these portable chargers are a great way to scale up quickly and support events such as festivals where there might be a temporary need to charge electric cars.

Electric Volkswagen mobile charging station

Each unit has a capacity of 360kWh and can charge up to 15 electric cars, VW claims. Time to recharge? An average of 17 minutes, making for ultra-fast recharging at 100kW. The pods are being trialled in Wolfsburg in 2019, before being rolled out to other cities in 2020 to coincide with the launch of VW's new ID range of EVs.

How to share your electric Volkswagen

VW’s electric plans are well underway – but Wolfsburg has even bigger plans for how we’ll use its new EVs. Today in Berlin, VW launched WeShare, an all-electric vehicle sharing service – and there are plans to expand it across Europe. 

Right now there are 1500 e-Golf vehicles on the all-electric fleet, but they’ll be joined by 500 e-Ups and then ID.3’s next year. Like a few other car-share services, WeShare will be controlled digitally via an app.

When car charge is low, WeShare will collect and charge vehicles. Later on, though, VW aims to offer incentives for those that recharge themselves. 

'With WeShare, we have tailored car sharing to meet the needs of users: easy to use with 100 percent electric operation on green power,’ said Christian Senger, Volkswagen board member for digital car & services. 

‘With such a consistent, broad offering, we stand out from the competition. We are outstandingly well-positioned to participate in the expanding car sharing market.’

Right now the service includes 150km2 but that’ll grow as the fleet is extended. In the meantime, the service will be rolled to Prague, and then Hamburg in 2020.

Further electric car reading

The best electric cars and EVs on sale today

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The best hybrids, plug-ins and PHEVs

Wireless electric car charging

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