► Entry-level Volkswagen ID.1 EV previewed
► Starting price of around £17,000 expected
► ID.2 compact SUV will follow closely behind
Volkswagen has been kicking around the idea of an entry-level electric car for quite some time now. Back in 2021, the brand launched the ID.Life concept, offering a glimpse at how its cheap new EVs could look – but we haven’t seen a production model yet because the firm’s MEB electric technology is still too expensive to make the car financially viable.
It looks like Volkswagen is starting to get its act together, though. The brand has issued a new teaser image for an upcoming electric supermini that’s due in 2025. Volkswagen hasn’t named the project, but it’s fairly safe to say that this is our first look at the new ID.1. When it arrives, the EV will become a fresh rival for the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall e-Corsa.
Volkswagen’s sketch suggests the ID.1 will draw styling inspiration from the curvy ID.3 rather than the boxy ID.Life concept. The roofline, short front end and five-spoke wheels are all similar to the larger electric hatchback’s, as is the slim daytime running light spanning the car’s face. Our own design sketch (above) shows how the car could look once the covers are removed in 2025.
The ID.1 will be pitched as a zero-emission alternative to the Volkswagen Polo, and it’ll be based on a new, more cost-effective electric platform. Volkswagen won’t use the same MEB underpinnings found under the ID.3 as the platform is a bit too big – and the cost of the technology would push the car way past the company’s targeted €20,000 starting price.
That’s cheap. Surely Volkswagen’s telling porkies?
Nope, the brand is deadly serious. In 2021, Volkswagen boss Ralf Brandstätter expressed his optimism about meeting that target – but whether or not the company can deliver that low price-point with the current competitive clamour for car parts in the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen. More demand usually means prices go up.
Despite this, Branstätter has held firm on his estimates for the ID.1. He said: “We have promised to realise this all-electric car in the €20,000–€25,000 (roughly £17,000–£21,000) price segment, and we will deliver by 2025! Like this, Volkswagen is further lowering the entry barrier for CO2-neutral mobility, making it affordable for even more people.”
Some big savings will be made on the ID.1’s battery pack. Batteries are easily the most expensive part of an electric car, due to the rare earth materials that are required to make them. For the ID.1, we expect Volkswagen will trim the battery capacity down from the 58kWh of the ID.3 to 24kWh or 36kWh, depending on the specification.
Just 24kWh? That’s small for an EV battery pack, isn’t it?
Cars like the MINI Electric and the Honda e are already tootling around on UK roads with batteries of a similar size – so the formula isn’t exactly radical. CAR Magazine also understands that the longest-range version of the ID.1 will be able to travel 185 miles on a single charge with the bigger 36kWh battery, which isn’t bad for the money.
The ID.1 will be a pivotal car for Volkswagen. It’ll pull the price of the company’s entry-level electric and petrol cars closer together, making the jump to an EV more appealing to those on low incomes. It should also boost the brand’s sales – which is important, given that Volkswagen is planning for EVs to make up 70 percent of its European sales by 2030.
Volkswagen has more cars in the pipeline to meet its aggressive sales targets. The production version of the ID.Life concept will closely follow the ID.1 into the showrooms in 2025, sharing the same underpinnings. It’ll wear an “ID.2” badge, and it’ll become a fresh rival for small electric crossovers such as the Peugeot e-2008, Kia e-Niro and Vauxhall Mokka-e.
How’s Volkswagen going to build these new EVs?
With a little help from its friends, of course. SEAT has been assisting with the Volkswagen Group’s small electric car project – and in May 2022, Volkswagen and SEAT set aside a total of €10 billion (roughly £8.5 billion) to build an electric vehicle production hub in Spain.
Some of this cash will be spent on a new Gigafactory in Valencia, which will supply the battery packs for both SEAT and Volkswagen future electric cars. Construction of the plant will start in 2023, with the first cells set to roll off the production line in 2026. For some extra eco-points, 20 percent of the factory’s energy demands will be met by a new solar farm located around six miles from the facility.
Further electric car reading
Best electric cars on sale today
Volkswagen’s electric cars: everything you need to know
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?