EV has retractable steering wheel
Volkswagen revealed its I.D. electric car Wednesday ahead of the Paris auto show, and now the brand has dropped full details on the electric hatch along with more on its plans for future mobility, including autonomous driving. Volkswagen says the debut is as significant to the automotive landscape as the original Beetle and Golf models, and has coined the tagline “Think New” to underscore its importance to the company.
As we previously reported, the I.D. achieves between 249 and 373 miles (600.3 km) per charge, based on the New European Driving Cycle. A flat lithium-ion battery pack sandwiched in the floor provides juice to the rear-mounted electric motor, which is rated 168 hp and can bring the concept to 62 mph in less than 8 seconds and on to its top speed of 99 mph (159 km/h). The Volkswagen I.D. rides on the automaker’s MEB modular electric architecture, which can be scaled to fit a number of body styles including the BUDD-E microbus that debuted the platform.
But perhaps more important than the electric car tech, the I.D. gives us a glimpse at what to expect from Volkswagen in terms of its autonomous technologies and car-sharing strategy. When the production I.D. arrives in 2020, it will be an attainable electric car with a practical driving range, much like the Chevrolet Bolt is now. Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess said at the Paris auto show press conference that the car will cost about as much as a diesel Golf costs today. The concept looks beyond its 2020 launch date with its I.D. Pilot mode, a fully autonomous feature that VW says should be ready by 2025. This function is activated through a button on the steering wheel, which retracts and disappears when in autonomous mode. The in-floor battery pack and rear-mounted electric motor already free up space inside the cabin, but the stowing of the steering wheel contributes to a more lounge-like cabin.
At a preview event for media ahead of the Paris auto show, Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller drove home how important “urban mobility,” which encompasses autonomous driving, will be to the company going forward. The executive painted a future where many young people living in urban areas give up owning cars. But even if they’re not car owners, they can still be Volkswagen customers, he said. To this end, Volkswagen is investing heavily in a new urban mobility division, which will become VW Group’s 13th brand. One of the division’s first jobs is working with ridesharing partner Gett to develop an autonomous taxi service. GM has hooked up with Lyft and Ford with Uber to develop similar programs. Referring to that challenge and others outlined in Volkswagen’s “Strategy 2025” plan, Müller says, “the transformation that lies ahead is a gigantic step.” Such a transformation is necessary, however, both with the apparently imminent autonomous future ahead and with VW’s now tarnished internal combustion engine reputation. The I.D. will be one of many smaller steps that VW likely hopes will begin to put dieselgate behind it.