When one thinks of “Volkswagen”, the image of their venerable vehicle design, the affectionately nicknamed “beetle”, ought to be the first thing that comes to mind. But even the tried and true Volkswagen Company hasn’t shied from advancing towards the future, and their latest concept debut in Tuesday’s Paris Motor Show easily caught everyone’s eyes.
The vehicle they teased in Paris is an electric car, and it’s called the Volkswagen ID. Costing less than its closest competitors from Tesla and Chevrolet, it’s projected to cost a prospective buyer about $30,000. Even better, the ID promises to offer a total mileage of 375 miles, and a far greater range, all on a single full charge of its electric battery. In comparison, the Tesla Model 3 gets a starting price of $35,000 with a 215 mile drive range, while the Chevy Bolt will run you out of $37,500 (before US tax breaks) and up to 238 miles on a single charge.
But there’s one thing the other companies have got over Volkswagen: the date of release for their cars. The Bolt is expected to go on sale before 2016 is out; the Model 3 is due in 2017…and the ID won’t be around until 2020. That’s harsh.
The Volkswagen ID’s main draw is its manufacturer’s Modular Electric Drive kit, which utilizes a flat-floor battery that can pack a greater amount of electrical storage, outstripping VW’s earlier hybrid electro-gas powered e-Golf. Herbert Diess of Volkswagen had said in a 2015 interview with TopGear that the MEB would be able to cover all the company’s brands, adding that, “It’s much easier to make full use of the electric technology if you dedicate a platform to it. We have enough scale to dedicate one of our platforms to electromobility.”
Another feature that Volkswagen is dedication to realize in the ID is a reliable fully-autonomous “Pilot Mode”. Initial estimates see this feature being ready for implementation in the ID by 2025, barring any technological setbacks. By this time, VW also hopes to have crossed the 1-million mark of electric cars sold.
The ID “Pilot Mode” is looking into using lasers, ultrasonic, radar and photo-camera sensor features in order to make its way around traffic without driver input. Each ID on the road could then collect traffic data and upload into a Cloud-based simulation of a location’s real-time ground conditions so they’d all have the same information to work on during pilot mode. The MEB platform also comes into effect here, with the steering wheel retracting into the car dashboard when pilot mode is engaged, for a roomier “driver’s space”.
Mind you, all these things are but mere concepts right now. But they sound equally wonderful, and disconcerting.
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