VOLKSWAGEN used the Paris Motor Show to give us a look at our driving future with a concept car it calls the ID, a highly automated electric car that dispenses with many of the things we take for granted in contemporary cars.
The kicker is that the production version of this stunning show car is set to be launched in 2020 at a price that will be on a par with the comparably powerful and well-equipped Golf model, Volkswagen’s best seller.
It gets even better. A second version of this electric car (claimed range on a single charge between 400 and 600 kilometres) with full automation – the vaunted ‘driverless car’ – is expected to be ready for production in 2025.
And Volkswagen, manufacturer of two of the world’s two best-selling cars, the Beetle and the Golf, has already set itself the goal of selling one million electric cars a year by 2025.
Volkswagen says it is advancing the development of innovative, high-volume electric cars with levels of automated driving that will make cars safer and more intuitive in their operation
ID is radically different to contemporary cars, the lack of a drivetrain and fuel tank giving designers and engineers much more leeway for roominess in a car little more than four metres long.
It has a long wheelbase with very short overhangs, for example, and a flat lithium-ion battery integrated with the floor pan, both lowering the vehicle's centre of gravity and doing away with a battery ‘stack’. A new front-end design gives the car a tight turning circle and the multi-link rear axle carries the electric motor.
The fully-automated ‘ID Pilot’ mode is activated by pressing the Volkswagen logo on the steering wheel, an action that pulls the steering wheel into the dashboard to boost the interior’s spaciousness.
Electric drive allows radical design changes. The front is free from grilles and vents, the rear goes without exhaust outlets and front-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear doors mean the traditional door pillar – known as the B-pillar – is also a thing of the past for ID.
By using small, rear-facing cameras in the front mudguards and a single central rear-facing camera, ID also manages nicely without door mirrors, the protruding items replaced by a multiple-image internal monitor.
Dimensionally, ID is 4100mm long, making it 155mm shorter than the current Golf. It is 1800mm wide, 1530mm high and has a 2750mm wheelbase, 130mm longer than Golf and not a lot shorter than that of Passat.
Claimed performance is not exactly something to sneeze at either. The electric engine develops 125 kilowatts of power, giving the car the ability to accelerate from standstill to 100km/h in under eight seconds and roll on to a 160km/h top speed.
As for the electric cars’ Achilles Heel, range anxiety, VW says it has that problem beaten with an inductive charging interface in the front of the car that can have the battery 80 per cent charged in 30 minutes.
If ID is Volkswagen’s idea of out driving future then it has to be said the future is looking impressively bright.
Roll on, 2020.
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