When it comes to electric cars, there’s been much hype and fanfare around Tesla’s Model 3 being an affordable, electric car for the masses. However, the road has been bumpy, no thanks to production delays and quality issues.
German giant Volkswagen, in its quest to shed its diesel-gate image, thinks it can succeed where Tesla haven’t; in the form of a ourpose-built small electric hatch called the I.D. Neo (name to be confirmed). We’ve seen the concept, but how will the production version up the ante compared to the Model 3? Let’s take a closer look.
Contemporary VW Styling
Compared to its conceptual forbearer, styling takes on a more mature and yet still contemporary approach. While looking tall and stubby like Nissan’s Leaf, it’s miles sleeker than an e-Golf and at the same time, it won’t ruffle those conservative feathers like BMW’s i3 has.
There’s no traditional grille, only a thin LED strip that spans between the headlights with a charging port sitting below. The lower intake is likely for battery pack cooling and aesthetic purposes only. Like the concept, sheetmetal surfacing is relatively free from hard creases and over-embellishment of design elements. Instead things are kept simple in the name of aerodynamic efficiency.
Under The Skin
One of the benefits of Volkswagen’s new MEB-based electric car is in efficient packaging. With no internal combustion engine compromising things, designers have much more freedom in terms of maximizing occupant space and storage.
A plethora of tech will keep its occupants entertained, safe and relaxed. One such example is vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which will assist drivers with upcoming hazards and traffic signal timing. Other features will include a VW iOS electric architecture with over-the-air updates for apps, autonomous cruise, self-parking, digital cockpit display and a climate-friendly, highly efficient air conditioning system.
The new I.D. Neo will support rapid or DC fast charging at 125kW and it’ll take more or less 30 minutes for an 80% charge. At a slower pace, it can be charged at home (at a rate of 2.3kW) off a 230V supply or a ‘VW Wallbox’ at 11kW.
In the future, Volkswagen envisages its owners using mobile quick-charging stations (think of them as giant power banks). They can be set up independent of power supply where needed, like at sporting events and businesses. With storage capacity up to 360 kWh, they can charge four EV’s simultaneously, with an average of 17 minutes per charge.
Power To The People
The base variant is expected to perform swiftly, with 0-100 Km/h (0-62 mph) done in under 8 seconds. Driving range for that model will be around 330km (205 miles). Higher series versions will join the range at later date, employing bigger lithium-ion battery packs for longer distance driving. Range in these models is expected to be in the 340 mile (550 km) arena, according to new, stricter WLTP standards.
Surprisingly, power will be fed to the rear wheels for better driving attributes, and the drivetrain will be rear-mounted onto a subframe with a multilink axle.
Production & Amped Alternatives
Manufacturing will be based at a climate-neutral facility in Zwickau, East Germany for most markets. This plant is set to become Europe’s biggest EV factory with a target annual output of up to 330,000 vehicles. There will be one model at launch, with long-range/performance variants coming on stream later down the track.
Rivals include Nissan’s Leaf, Tesla Model 3, BMW i3 and Volkswagen’s own e-Golf. We’ll see it in the flesh towards the end of the year, with worldwide sales to start in early 2020. Pricing will be in the same ballpark as the current Golf diesel.
What do you think of Volkswagen’s first mass-market electric vehicle? Share your views in the comments below.