Volkswagen Debuts Electric Vehicle Concept with 373-Mile Range

I.D. will be the first vehicle built off VW’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) kit, recharges in half an hour.

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

Volkswagen has unveiled the I.D., an automated electric car the company says will be able to cover a distance of 249 to 373 miles on a single battery charge. The production version of the I.D. is due to be launched in 2020 at a price on a par with comparable Golf models.

In “I.D. Pilot” mode, the car is capable of fully automated driving, a technology the company expects to be ready for series production in 2025. Volkswagen has also set itself the goal of selling a million electric cars a year by 2025, with the production version of the I.D. intended to make a decisive contribution toward this ramp-up of e-mobility.


The First MEB Vehicle

The I.D. is Volkswagen’s first compact concept car based on the company’s new MEB vehicle architecture. MEB stands for Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten (“Modular Electric Drive kit”) and it was conceived for pure electric vehicles.

The MEB is designed as a purely electric vehicle architecture. The I.D.’s zero-emissions drive system consists primarily of the electric motor, power electronics and transmission integrated in the rear axle, a space-saving high-voltage flat battery in the floor of the car and ancillary equipment integrated in the front of the car.

The electric motor has a power output of 168 horsepower (125 kW), giving the I.D. zero to 62 mph acceleration in less than 8 seconds and a top speed of 99 mph.  Subsequent production versions could also be offered with more or less powerful electric motors.

In parallel, the concept also hints that it will be possible to configure the I.D. with different battery capacities. This would allow the drive system to be modified to suit the owner’s individual needs. The I.D. will have a range of between 249 and 373 miles on a single charge, under European test conditions.

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

The high-voltage battery used in the I.D. is located in the chassis. As a crucial link, the power electronics control the flow of high-voltage power between the motor and the battery, converting the direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC), while a DC/DC converter supplies the on-board electronics with 12-volt power.

Power is transferred from the motor to the rear axle via a single-gear transmission. The motor, power electronics and transmission form one compact unit. The position of the battery has a positive effect as it gives the I.D. a very low center of gravity, like a racing car’s, and neutral handling. The I.D. is also characterized by an optimal weight distribution of 48:52 percent, front to rear.

The battery can be charged by cable or using an inductive charging interface in the front of the car. To charge by cable, a separate charging plug is needed to connect the car to an electrical outlet. For inductive charging, all the driver needs to do is park the I.D. over a so-called charging plate, with a little help from the electronics to make sure it is in exactly the right position.

Over and above that it will be possible to send the car to an inductive charging station, too. Volkswagen has stated that, thanks to the rapid charging system, the battery is 80 percent charged after just 30 minutes.

“The electric powertrain gives our designers far greater freedom,” said Klaus Bischoff, head of design, Volkswagen brand. “We have shrunk the cooling grilles to a minimum, shifted the axles far outwards and created breathtaking proportions, as demonstrated by the I.D. —an icon of the future. We had the unique opportunity to guide Volkswagen into a new era, and with the I.D we have taken this opportunity.”

I.D. Automated Driving

I.D. is the first Volkswagen capable of fully automated driving. In fully automated driving mode the four roof-mounted laser scanners are active. They protrude from the roof of the I.D. in “I.D. Pilot” mode, but are also visible thanks to indirect blue lighting, like the diffusers and side sills, indicating that the I.D. is in fully automated mode. The I.D. is capable of detecting other road users not only using its laser sensors, but also with ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, side area view cameras and a front camera. Traffic data is also constantly collected and compared with the vehicle data via the cloud.

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

(Image courtesy of Volkswagen.)

The I.D. doesn’t only drive itself or be driven. It can find a space in a parking structure, all of its own. All the driver has to do is stop the I.D. in a specially marked zone in the entrance to a structure that has the necessary infrastructure and activate the “Pilot for multi-storey car park” using the Volkswagen app. As with the fully automated “I.D. Pilot” mode it is able to detect other cars as well as pedestrians. To ask the I.D. to leave the parking space again, all the driver has to do is tell the Volkswagen to return to its starting zone again via the app.

For more news from the Paris Motor Show, check out Renault’s autonomous electric GT concept car.