ID.3 is VW’s first MEB-based electric vehicle
Months before its official launch at the 2019 IAA (Frankfurt Motor Show) in September, Volkswagen officially announced at a Berlin event in May the name for its first model of the new ID. family of all-electric cars. Called ID.3, the company says that the number 3 is significant in that it indicates the new car belongs to the compact segment and it follows the Beetle (1) and Golf (2) as the third major chapter of strategic importance for the history of the brand.
Based on its MEB, short for Modular Electric Drive Toolkit, VW says that the ID. range stands for intelligent design, identity, and visionary technologies. It showed a camouflaged version of the ID.3 in Berlin, opening up order books for European customers to register for the exclusive launch edition. Potential customers can register for an early Tesla-style reserved production slot at http://www.volkswagen.com/id-prebooking by paying a deposit of €1000.
“With the ID.3, we are starting from the center, the Volkswagen brand’s core, in which the majority of the models and sales volume can be found,” said Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand for Sales. “We have a lot in the pipeline.”
Company execs hope that VW will become the top EV brand globally by 2025, with more than 20 pure-electric models and more than a million vehicles sold annually. Following the launch of the ID.3, additional models will roll out based on previous ID.Crozz, ID.Vizzion, and ID.Roomzz concept vehicles, but designated with model numbers.
The MEB base with underpin other Group vehicles like the Seat el-Born concept car also scheduled for market launch in 2020. That car featured a provisional 58-kW∙h battery, “practical range” of between 300 and 420 km (186 and 260 mi), and direct-current charging of 100 kW for at least 260 km (162 mi) range replenishment in only 30 min.
Less than one week after the start of ID.3 pre-booking, more than 15,000 registrations had already been received—nearly half of the total initial volume of 30,000 special vehicles. At that point, the greatest interest was coming from Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, the UK, and Sweden.
Customers registering for the 1ST special edition will get a car with “comprehensive equipment” and the possibility of electric charging at no cost for up to 2000 kW∙h in the first year—at public charging points connected to the Volkswagen app We Charge and using the pan-European rapid charging Ionity network. Production of the ID.3 1ST, with a WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure) range of 420 km (260 mi) and a starting price of less than €40,000 in Germany, will commence at the end of 2019 for delivery in mid-2020. (Starting price eventually is promised at under €30,000 in Germany.)
Late last year VW gave a media briefing on the underlying components of the MEB. Its drive matrix primarily consists of an electric motor integrated into the rear axle, together with power electronics and a gearbox, to form a single compact unit. A high-voltage flat battery pack is installed in the vehicle floor to save space. An auxiliary powertrain can be integrated into the front of the vehicle for all-wheel drive. The power electronics, which control the flow of high-voltage energy between the motor and battery pack, convert the direct current stored in the battery into alternating current, and a DC/DC converter supplies the onboard electronics with 12-V power. The one-speed gearbox transfers the power from the motor to the rear axle.
The electric motor of the I.D. concept car shown in 2016 at Paris Motor Show is said to carry over pretty much as-is for the 2020 ID.3. That prototype’s power output of 125 kW could accelerate that I.D. from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 8 s and on to a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).
The battery pack’s modular layout allows scalable ranges from about 330 km (205 mi) to more than 550 km (342 mi), as measured by the WLTP. As with most modern EVs, the flat underbody pack not only saves space, but also significantly lowers the vehicle center of gravity and optimizes weight distribution of close to 50:50 for dynamic, balanced driving behavior.
Engineers designed a completely new end-to-end electronics architecture, called E3, as well as a new operating system, called vw.OS, to control the large range ID. model features. The new end-to-end architecture consolidates control units into a more powerful and centralized processor unit. It was also designed to ensure enduring appeal across the vehicle’s entire life by making the systems compatible for updates and upgrades accessed via the Cloud.
Volkswagen describes the MEB as having update-compatible hardware and software to enable new assistance, comfort, infotainment, control, and display systems to be integrated into vehicles across the board. The 2016 Paris prototype, for example, featured an augmented-reality headup display technology that could not have been possible without the new more-flexible approach.
ID. family models will always be online to access a range of information and services that Volkswagen hopes will transform it from a pure vehicle manufacturer into a mobility provider of vehicles and services. The extensive digitalization transformation process will focus on not only electric mobility and connectivity but also—from 2025 onwards—on automated driving.
Volkswagen has already built 200 pre-production ID.3 vehicles and is transforming its Zwickau plant for EV production, with startup entering its pivotal phase in mid-June. By the end of 2020, only e-vehicles will be built at the facility—at up to 1500 a day for Volkswagen and other Group brands—based on the MEB toolkit. Total potential production capacity will be 330,000 vehicles a year.
“Around half of the 1500 new robots for body construction are already in operation,” said Thomas Ulbrich, Member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Brand responsible for E-Mobility and spokesperson of the Management Board of Volkswagen Sachsen. “The paint shop is currently being expanded, and we’ll commence conversion of the first line in final assembly as planned in the summer.”
In support of the ID.3 launch, Volkswagen will expand the charging infrastructure in Zwickau from the current 36 charging points around the plant to some 180 in the coming 18 months.
The Gläserne Manufaktur facility in Dresden, originally built in the early 2000s for Phaeton and Bentley Continental luxury cars, will be symbolically altered for future electrification, said Ulbrich: “We’ll further expand its specific role as a showcase for electric mobility and digitalization. MEB vehicles will also come off the line there in the future.”
To punctuate its electrification offensive, the Supervisory Board and Board of Management of Volkswagen AG in May also approved investments of just under €1 billion to set up a battery-cell production facility with an unnamed partner in Lower Saxony at Salzgitter.