Frankfurt Motor Show - Volkswagen has whipped the covers off its ID.3 electric hatch, a car that it says is its most significant introduction since the original Beetle and Golf models. This, folks, is the car VW hopes will get the masses into electric motoring.

Built on an all-new electric car platform called MEB, the ID.3 takes the form of Golf-sized hatchback, and it’s the first of a whole family of future ‘ID’ models, which will eventually include SUVs and a retro reincarnation of the original Kombi inspired by the ID Buzz concept.

European pricing starts at 30 000 euro (R489 000), which puts it in the upper end of the Golf price range in that region - bearing in mind that batteries are still extremely expensive. However, when batteries do eventually become more affordable through mass production and the resulting scale, vehicles like this could become more affordable.

But is the ID.3 coming to South Africa? According to VWSA, it is currently too early to confirm the introduction of this model for SA. Which is certainly not a no.

The ID.3’s batteries are integrated into the underbody in order to optimise space utilisation and lower the centre of gravity, and at launch the electric hatch will be available with three battery options.

The cheapest variant is a 45kWh battery that allows a range of up to 330km on the WLTP cycle. The middle model has 58kWh and enables around 420kW between charges, while the range-topping 77kWh option is said to allow 550km. 

Plugged into a 100kW fast-charging facility, it is possible to charge up for a range of 290km in just half an hour, according to Volkswagen.

The ID.3’s cabin is fully digital and connected, and virtually all controls come in the form of touch-sensitive buttons - in fact only the electric windows, mirrors and hazard lights are operated via traditional tactile switches. Occupants can also make use of “intelligent natural voice control”. Range-toppers are fitted with features such as an augmented reality head-up display, Beats sound system, panoramic glass roof and a lane keeping system with emergency assist.

Sales kick off with a launch edition called the 'ID.3 1st', priced at 40 000 euro (R652 000), and featuring a 150kW, 310Nm electric motor mounted on the rear axle, fed by the 58kWh battery option.

“The ID.3 is an all-rounder that is suitable for everyday use,” says VW ID marketing head Silke Bagschik. “It is compact, as such offering the manoeuvrability of a small car with the interior space of a mid-range vehicle. It combines exciting design with innovative technology and significant range”.

IOL Motoring