The I.D. concept — debuting this week at the 2016 Paris Motor Show — will likely put VW a lot closer to that goal. It previews a new electric car the brand hopes to put on sale by 2020, which will be a dedicated model rather than an electric version of an existing one. It will use the MEB platform for small electric cars previewed by VW last year.
The car itself looks like a cross between today’s Golf hatchback and a late 1990s iMac. VW tried to emphasize the electric powertrain with styling elements like a grille-less front fascia and a stubby front end, which takes full advantage of the more flexible packaging electric powertrains allow.
In terms of forward motivation, the I.D. uses a 167-horsepower electric motor, and VW claims a range of between 400 and 600 kilometers (248 and 372 miles). However, that’s probably as measured on the European testing cycle, which is known to be a bit unrealistic. Any U.S. EPA range ratings would likely be lower, but would still represent a significant improvement over the current VW e-Golf’s 83-mile rating.
VW also gave the I.D. autonomous driving capabilities, which it says will be available on production cars beginning in 2025. When in autonomous mode (VW calls it “I.D. Pilot”), the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard. The car can also receive packages when its owner isn’t home, something that has already been tested by Volvo in a Swedish pilot program.
The I.D. will launch in 2020 as an electric counterpart to the Golf. Since the Golf is VW’s bestselling car worldwide, that tells us the German automaker has big plans for this compact EV. At any rate, the I.D. will almost certainly be more affordable than the other electric cars the brand has planned for the next few years, a trio of luxury models that includes the Phaeton, Porsche Mission E, and an Audi SUV based on last year’s e-tron quattro concept.