Update: ‘VW ID.Life review’ section added.
Volkswagen Group’s popular models that run on conventional gasoline technology like the VW Polo, T-Cross and Golf may not have a future beyond this decade in markets that ban ICE vehicles. The company is not looking to strap electric motors and batteries to comply with government regulations. It would launch bespoke EVs in the same segments instead.
Talking to Auto Express in May 2020, Jürgen Stackmann, former Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Passenger Cars for Sales, Marketing and After Sales, provided details. He said that models like the Golf would not be selling alongside the ID range of electric cars in the electric-only future. VW will not make models like T-Cross and Golf comply in places like the UK, where new ICE cars are banned from 2030. However, the two powertrains would run concurrently in regions like Asia and Africa, which are behind the curve in adopting electric cars.
VW ID.2 – Sub-ID.3 model to release in 2025
At the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021), Volkswagen Group unveiled the VW ID. Life concept model as its vision of a pure electric alternative in 2025 to models like the erstwhile Cross Polo and the T-Cross. The company will likely call the production version the VW ID.2.
The VW ID. Life sits on a modified version of the MEB platform that should be less sophisticated and support shorter wheelbase applications. Called MEB short platform, and interchangeably MEB eco platform, the modified version has a front-wheel-drive drivetrain layout instead of rear-wheel drive.
The VW ID. Life has a single motor that generates 172 kW (234 PS) of power and 290 Nm of torque using energy stored inside a 57 kWh battery pack. Its estimated WLTP range is 400 km or 249 miles. Ten minutes of charging can provide a range of 163 km or 101 miles. A 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint takes 6.9 seconds, and the top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph ). These specifications could be the targets for the VW ID.2.
Thanks to the skateboard platform and cab-forward proportion, space for passengers and luggage is likely to be higher than the VW Polo or T-Cross.
Unified Cell format & LFP cell chemistry
Volkswagen Group had revealed at the Power Day event in March 2020 that it plans to start using unified cell technology for the battery system of its EVs from 2023. The company confirmed that the chemistry of its unified cells would vary as per the segments. For the entry-level cars, it plans to use Iron Phosphate chemistry.
“We do have an entry chemistry with Iron Phosphate,” said Frank Blome, Head of Battery Cell and System, Volkswagen Group Components. “In our entry segment, the unified cell will bring down battery cost by 50% compared to today,” said Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group. VW’s unified cell tech utilizes the same physical pack formats, with just different chemistries. This would make designing future electric cars less expensive and time-consuming.
Blome admitted that switching to LFP chemistry has “a slight range disadvantage,” but it comes without any Cobalt, Nickel, and Manganese and is a very robust technology. The cycle stability is very good, which means it is suitable for cars with a low range.
Unified cell basically means an overall similar format or design for all the EV battery cells, but with different chemistry inside. “With this concept, we are really able to put 80% of a unified cell in our cars,” said Thomas Schmall, Board Member – Technology, Volkswagen Group, at the Power Day event. This 80% level will be achieved by 2030.
We will put battery in the middle of the heart of our development of cars. This is the major cost point in the EV world. If we have the volume, and we will roll it out, we need (to) put it in the middle, in the centre of our cars, and then defining the cars around the battery.Thomas Schmall, Board Member – Technology, Volkswagen Group (Power Day)
Reports say that Guoxuan High-tech is considering making LFP and NMC batteries for Volkswagen Group’s MEB cars. The former (Lithium Iron Phosphate) chemistry has proven to be inexpensive and safe. If the issues related to its performance in low temperatures are resolved, it is an ideal option for entry-level cars. The German conglomerate owns a 26.5% stake in the Chinese battery maker.
The VW ID.2’s mother plant will most likely be Seat’s Martorell factory (Spain). This factory is likely to be the production hub for all MEB short platform models, not excluding the VW ID.1.
We will build our new compact family most likely in Spain and we also intend to localise battery production there.Ralf Brandstatter, CEO, Volkswagen (Volkswagen Media Conference at IAA 2021 – 6 September 2021)
Volkswagen Group sees Spain as a potential strategic pillar of its transition to EVs. The company plans to participate in the country’s PERTE project and base its budget EV project in the country. A whole “Small BEV Family” could roll out of the Seat Martorell plant come 2025. Their components and the cells of the battery packs could also be of Spanish origin.
Spain could get Volkswagen Group’s third battery cell plant in Europe after Germany (in Salzgitter) and Sweden (in Skelleftea). This could be a gigafactory with the potential to ramp up production to 40-gigawatt hours annually by 2030. “We are willing to establish the entire value chain of e-mobility in the country – electric vehicle production, electric car components, a Group-new cell factory,” Diess said on 13 July 2021.
SEAT leading the ID.2’s platform development
The VW Group says that the proportion of electric and hybrid cars it sells in Europe would move up to 60 per cent from the previously announced 40 per cent by 2030 as EU’s CO2 targets get more stringent. It is investing more than half of the planned 73 billion euros ($86 billion) through 2025 on battery electric vehicles.
The MEB short platform will underpin the VW ID.2, and basically, every A- and B-segment electric car Volkswagen Group introduces this decade. The German conglomerate has assigned the development of the platform to SEAT. When Auto Express, asked Axel Andorff, VP – R&D, Seat, about the Spanish company leading the project, he confirmed that development is underway:
Yes, we have a team working on it now. What we already know is that just a little improvement of the main MEB platform on costs and so on will not be sufficient for what we need for a small electric car.Axel Andorff, VP – R&D, Seat
With SEAT in the ‘driver seat’ of the MEB short platform development, its electric supermini would understandably arrive before the VW ID.2 or the equivalent Skoda model. The company confirmed on 22 March 2021 that it plans to launch an urban electric car in 2025 and position it in the price segment of EUR 20,000-25,000. SEAT showcased the UrbanRebel concept at the IAA 2021, previewing its ambitions for a zero-emissions city car.
VW ID.Life review
Volkswagen conducted press drives of the ID.Life in September 2021 and the first impressions are rather encouraging. Driving Electric says that even though the ID.Life’s motor is tuned for 234 hp, with 0-100 kmph time of 6.9 seconds, the press fleet of the ID.Life concept was limited to just 18 mph (30 kmph).
The website’s report also suggests that although the ID.Life comes with an aircraft-like steering wheel, it doesn’t hamper the driving experience and the driver is able to maintain control despite the unconventional design. There are no screens or ORVMs either. Infotainment functions will be provided through an app and smartphones can be mounted onto the dashboard.
But don’t write off the ID.Life yet for it packs an interesting feature. Driving Electric’s first impression states that there’s a projector screen folded into the upper dashboard. At the touch of a button, the screen pops up. You can then fold the front seats, recline the rear seats and enjoy a movie while the ID.Life recharges at a charging station. Quite thoughtfully executed by VW, but don’t expect this feature to make it to the ID.2.
VW ID.3 succeeds the e-Golf
Volkswagen’s fully-electric Golf, the e-Golf, was discontinued in late 2020 following the launch of the ID.3. The e-Golf has a 35.8 kWh battery pack and offers a range of 231 km (WLTP). Though the e-Golf is acknowledged as fun to drive and enjoyed brisk customer demand, the travel range is not competitive.
The ID.3 is way better than the old e-Golf in every way. Importantly, the Golf-sized ID.3 offers a driving range of up to 320 km (WLTP) in the lowest spec and goes up to 550 km (WLTP) with the largest battery pack on offer. What’s also unusual is the lack of screens and ORVMs. Driving Electric says that instead there’s a head-up display that shows all important information while other functions like indicators are steering-mounted.
Future of the VW Polo & Golf
While the long-term future does look uncertain for combustion-engine models like the Polo and Golf that have dominated the sales tables in Europe for decades, their story is not coming to an abrupt end. The same is the case for the newer T-Cross, another crucial product for emerging markets that aren’t on the EV bandwagon yet.
Stackmann had confirmed to Auto Express that a ninth-generation Golf would be launched before the switch to full-electric models happens worldwide. The eighth-generation Golf is available with five engines – two petrol engines, two diesel engines and one mild-hybrid powertrain. There’s also a GTE plug-in hybrid version with a TSI four-cylinder engine and an electric motor for a combined output of 245 PS (180 kW) and 400 Nm of torque. The GTE Golf has an all-electric range of 60 km and can be driven up to 130 km/h in this mode. The second generation T-Cross was also confirmed this year with a plug-in system that is capable of 100 km of EV range. Expect the market launch during mid-decade.
It’s unclear what will happen to Polo, but Business Insider (Germany) reports that VW will probably discontinue it following its 50th birthday as Euro 7 emission norms make it virtually impossible for automakers to offer an ICE small car after 2025 in the Old Continent. However, there are many markets where you can’t sell an electric vehicle (EV) due to either the lack of government subsidy, consumer interest or charging infrastructure. For those, the Polo will likely be continued with cosmetic changes, in our opinion. It’s worth noting here that the Polo was Volkswagen brand’s second-best-selling model worldwide in 2019 and 2020, with 488,000 units and 724,000 units sold, respectively.
The Volkswagen brand is ramping up efforts to be the world’s largest producer of electric cars. The target is to manufacture 1.5 million electric vehicles a year by 2025, and the models include the VW ID.3, VW ID.4, VW ID.5, global VW ID.6 (VW Aero B), China-only VW ID.6, VW ID. Buzz, and the VW ID.2.
Volkswagen is investing heavily in its software tech and rolling out over-the-air updates for the ID.3 and the ID.4. The ID.2 should similarly have OTA vehicle software update capability, essentially allowing for largely software-based variants that can be upgraded even after purchase. CARIAD will develop the software of the VW ID.2.
What this means is Volkswagen will be able to offer cars with standardised hardware across the range. While this will keep the sales price low, customers will be able to opt for features as OTA after the purchase has already been made. This also allows for certain features such as autonomous tech to be built straight into the car and the company can then charge a subscription fee to be able to use the feature.
According to the article, the new tech will also be vital for use on MEB short platform EVs in fleets or ride-sharing where users can opt and pay for particular features they want.
VW ID.2 FAQs
What is the VW ID.2 release date?
The VW ID.2, based on the MEB short platform, will be launched in 2025.
What is the expected VW ID.2 price?
The VW ID.2 will cost between €20,000 and €25,000 in Europe.
What will be the VW ID.2 rivals?
The VW ID.2 will compete with the upcoming SEAT ‘Urbano’ electric car and the Renault 4.
Featured image: Volkswagen