By: Jason Woosey
Paris Motor Show - As you might have gathered by now the TDI badge is rather last-season in the world of Volkswagen and electric cars are the next big thing as the German carmaker maps out its post-Dieselgate future.
Instrumental in turning over this new leaf (no Nissan puns intended) will be a full entourage of battery-powered vehicles ushered in by the forthcoming ID hatchback, revealed in concept form at the Paris show on Thursday.
VW reckons the ID will be as revolutionary as the Beetle was 70 years ago and that it will "make history" by turning electric propulsion into an everyday choice.
The showroom versions are only due in 2020, but its maker promises that the new hatch will largely solve one of the big compromises that put buyers off electric vehicles: that you can hardly get anywhere between charges. To that end, VW promises that the ID's floor-mounted batteries will offer a range of between 400 and 600km.
The company says the newcomer, which also pioneers a new design language for battery-powered VWs, will sell at a similar price to the Golf when it goes on sale in four years from now and it's likely to match VW's venerable hatch in size while offering superior interior space.
Eventually it’ll drive itself
Expect it to offer relatively strong performance too, with the ID's rear-mounted electric motor rated at 125kW, although production versions will offer different power levels below and above that level. Eventually it'll even drive itself, given that the company is planning to offer a fully automated mode by the year 2025.
The concept was designed around this function and has a steering wheel that can retract into the dashpad when the vehicle is in drive-itself mode, or 'ID Pilot' in VW Speak. In adapting to this new era, the concept car's cabin has been made more lounge-like in what VW calls "an entirely new spatial experience".
The production car's interior is unlikely to be as radical as the concept's but the latter's futuristic features are rather interesting. Occupants control the car's functions via touch displays in the doors, as well as voice and gesture control and capacitive keypads. The concept also has an 'Augmented Reality' head-up display system, projecting virtual images that appear to be between seven and 15 metres ahead of the vehicle to aid navigation.
The show car takes personalisation to a new level too, with a smart key that can recognise different drivers and dial in their individual settings for practically everything, from favourite radio stations and songs, to seat and aircon settings and even ambient lighting.
Yet regardless of what gizmos the production vehicle eventually offers, will drivers be ready to take the battery-powered leap? By the time the ID is capable of driving itself, 2025 remember, VW is hoping to be selling a million electric cars a year. No shortage of ambition there.
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