Volkswagen has a spiffy new MEB chassis designed specifically for electric cars. Technically, it is no different than the “skateboard” Tesla debuted in 2012 on the Model S — battery low and in the middle, motors at each end. And someday it may actually begin producing a car based on that architecture. It has created a new electric car division it calls I.D. and has plans to offer three models based on the MEB chassis — the I.D. four door sedan, the I.D. Crozz crossover SUV. and the I.D. Buzz, which will be a modern day reincarnation of the VW Microbus that was so popular with Grateful Dead fans.
The original I.D. Crozz was trotted out at the Shanghai auto show in the spring. For the 2017 Frankfurt auto show, that concept has been updated with more production ready styling. Volkswagen says it is headed to America and will be on sale in 2020. The I.D. Buzz won’t be along until 2023. Elon Musk could fly you to Mars and back in less time.
Prior to the start of the Frankfurt show, Volkswagen chairman Dr Herbert Diess told the press, “The Volkswagen brand will be investing 6 billion Euros in electric mobility over the next five years. Our task is to make modern technology available to many people. This is especially important in times of technological transformation. One thing is clear: The Golf of the future must once again be a people’s car!” People who don’t understand the reference should go to an online German-English dictionary and type in “Volkswagen.”
In its pre-show press release, the company claimed, “The new I.D. CROZZ is a crossover of an SUV and a four-door coupé, which has been further improved towards a production implementation. This can be seen, for instance, in various design changes to the front and rear ends of the concept car that is painted in ‘Hibiscus Red Metallic’. The I.D. CROZZ makes a powerful and masculine impression with its wide bonnet, cleanly contoured wings and roof with a high-gloss black exterior finish. The striking design of the LEDs of the headlights also point the way towards production and generate an unmistakable light graphic.
“The interior has also been re-equipped and further developed — as an Open Space — with a superior amount of space and highly versatile seating concept. B-pillars were omitted in the I.D. CROZZ, so that the large swinging and sliding doors can be opened wide, and it is even possible to transport a crossbike without any trouble.”
Among other features, the I.D. Crozz has two motors with a total output of 225 kW — that’s about 300 horsepower to you Colonials. It also has voice activated doors and an advanced air filtration system to keep passengers safe from transient pollutants in the air with conservatives insist are not there. It will have a range of 500 kilometers using the wildly optimistic NEDC. Expect EPA range in miles to be half of that, maybe less.
An 80% charge is reportedly possible using a 150 kW charger — of which precious few exist at the moment. Shock absorbers in the newly redesigned suspension are electronically controlled for greater control over a variety of road surfaces.
In short, Volkswagen currently has nothing to offer customers who might be interested in a Tesla Model 3 and won’t until that car has been in production for 3 full years. The only saving grace is the Tesla Model Y electric SUV won’t be on sale until 2019. Americans are gaga for crossovers. Whoever gets an electric crossover to market first will have a huge market advantage.
If only Volkswagen had devoted as much time, money, and effort into developing competitive electric cars as it did devising diesel cheating technology, it might have been a market leader. Instead, it seems content to be a “me, too” company with a surprising lack of urgency behind its electric car ambitions.