What Is It?
According to its makers, the Volkswagen I.D. electric concept car — unveiled at the 2016 Paris Auto Show — represents “the day after tomorrow.” In other words, it’s a car for the near future. As the name suggests, the I.D. runs on electric power, provided by a lithium-ion battery pack set into the floor. It actually runs a heck of a long way on that power; VW claims up to 373 miles on a single charge, and it can be replenished up to 80 percent within 30 minutes. This should consign the term “range anxiety” to history, along with “fear of penny-farthing bicycles” — if that was ever a thing.
The I.D. is a compact car based on a dedicated platform. And if anyone thinks it reminds them of a better-looking BMW i3 (especially with those opposite-opening rear passenger doors), there would be no argument from this side. The concept car also includes plenty of high-tech elements to help a driver. Cameras take the place of side mirrors, the head-up display uses augmented-reality technology, and a personal VW identification stored on the cloud can help with security, as well as heating and entertainment settings. The car can even receive parcel deliveries, and the lights are all LED. When the car is parked, the headlights are small, as if they were in sleep mode. As you approach the car, they become wider, and the door handles light up.
But this is not just another electric vehicle. It is “the first Volkswagen capable of fully automated driving,” the company says. The steering wheel can retract into the dashboard as the I.D. Pilot mode takes over. It will find a parking space by itself and get to a charging station. Even here, human input is unnecessary thanks to wireless inductive charging. All the car has to do is line itself up over a charging plate.
Will They Ever Sell It?
Yes. Volkswagen intends to start selling the I.D. in 2020 alongside the regular Golf “at a price on a par with comparably powerful and well-equipped Golf models,” the company says. It also aims to sell 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2025. Whether the production version ends up looking like this concept is bound to be another matter, though (especially that funky 6-cornered steering wheel).
Why It’s Important
After the whole diesel debacle (in case you missed it, this involved engine-software cheats to produce flatteringly false emissions figures), Volkswagen not only has to regain credibility as a mainstream carmaker, but also make up ground lost in the race toward greener transportation. And the Volkswagen I.D. electric concept car is further proof of a battery-powered — and autonomous — future. If you missed out on Tesla shares, now might be the right time to invest in VW stock.