Volkswagen is preparing an ambitious new offering that showcases an advanced design architecture for zero-emissions vehicles. The I.D. is the first in a forthcoming fleet of electric automobiles utilizing VW’s Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). Looking closer at the I.D., it’s clearly being positioned as a defining flagship for future VW products.
Brand Finance, ahead of the Paris Motor Show, reported on the hit VW has taken with the recent emissions debacle. Brand Finance finds VW is down 39 percent, cutting them from the top five automakers list.
Editorial commentary we featured recently suggests VW is transforming their product line with innovations that meet future demands. The I.D. is at the center of this movement, showcasing the benefits of affordable, electric transportation. VW clearly wants benchmark status in this emerging segment.
“For Volkswagen, the world premiere of the iconic I.D. in Paris marks a watershed,” reads a press release from VW. “This car is as revolutionary as the Beetle was seven decades ago and the first Golf was 40 years ago.”
VW considers MEB (Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten) their most innovative architecture from which other electric vehicles can emerge. MEB takes into account things like ride comfort, safety, interior space, and overall sustainability. Characteristics of the design include a long wheelbase with short overhangs, a crisp turning radius of 32.5 feet, and a multi-link rear axle. The integrated drive unit and decoupled subframe are meant to provide solid ride and handling. The flat lithium-ion battery is positioned for a low center of gravity and balances the vehicle quite impressively (48:52 percent, front to rear).
The I.D.’s zero-emissions drive system consists primarily of the electric motor, power electronics, and transmission integrated in the rear axle. The electric motor produces 168 horsepower (125 kW), taking the I.D. to 62 mph in less than 8 seconds with a top speed of 99 mph. The I.D. will have an estimated range between 249 and 373 miles on a single charge.
The I.D.’s high-voltage battery is nestled in the chassis. The power electronics control high-voltage power between the motor and battery, converting the direct current (DC) stored in the battery to alternating current (AC). There is a DC/DC converter supplying the on-board electronics with 12-volt power. Power is then transferred from the motor to the rear axle via a single-gear transmission.
The motor, power electronics, and transmission are one compact unit.
“Open Space” is the interior mantra. Traditional switches are replaced in favor of more intuitive controls like the Active Info Display that morphs into a 3D navigation screen. Satellite navigation directions are projected as virtual images 23 to 49 feet ahead of the car. The I.D.’s Open Space theme incorporates some serious, next-generation connectivity with Volkswagen Home-Net. The technology can actually tap into home cameras so driver’s can check on their house. Let’s say someone has forgotten their key? Volkswagen Home-Net can actually assist them in unlocking the front door to their house.
What will they think of next, huh?
One of the most unique features inside is the presence of a Möbius strip, a geometric shape where the inner surface becomes the outer surface and vice versa. The description is credited to German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius who lived during the 19th century.
The interior design compliments the I.D.’s autonomous driving capability, expected from 2025 onward. In I.D. Pilot mode, the steering wheel actually retracts into the dashboard. The rear-mounted electric motor and floor-mounted battery allow more open space inside, creating a lounge atmosphere. The driver’s seat is an essential part of this atmosphere too, blending fully into the interior landscape.
In I.D. Pilot mode, the vehicle uses laser, radar, and ultrasonic sensors, along with a series of cameras to detect any number of obstacles in the road. The I.D. also rapidly analyzes traffic data against its on own vehicle data.
The I.D. can serve as a rolling mailbox. Studies show millions of parcels sent in Europe could alternatively be delivered to a VW, parked anywhere between Helsinki, Finland and Lisbon, Portugal. The person delivering the package locates the vehicle via GPS and opens the trunk. At that point, the owner is notified and the trunk locks itself.
“I.D. can receive parcels using a new delivery service, if its owner isn’t at home,” reads a VW press release. “Volkswagen is currently working with international logistics service providers to implement this innovative concept.”
The I.D. is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show – Mondial de l’Automobile 2016, October 1st through the 16th. VW’s Paris theme is “Think New,” which encourages and promotes new approaches to vehicle design. Think New focuses on four key areas: Smart Sustainability, Automated Driving, Intuitive Usability, and Connected Community. Collectively, these main areas encompass electric vehicles, safer driving, easy use of controls, and linking cars, humans, and the environment together.
Although the I.D. is a concept now, VW wants it available by 2020 at a price similar to a nicely equipped Golf. The automaker’s goal is to sell a million electric cars by 2025.
VW wants to duplicate the Beetle’s success and iconic status, and it makes sense. The Beetle proved a winner and if the I.D. follows a similar path, VW’s climb to the top of the autonomous electrified mountain will be nothing short of historic. First released in 1938, the Beetle has one longest manufacturing histories of any automobile. In 1999, the Beetle received Car of the Century honors alongside the Porsche 911 and Ford Model T.
Will the I.D. emerge as one of the cars of this century? I guess we will find out in the next 84 years or so.
Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan