Currently reading: Inside the industry: The ID 3 could be VW's missed opportunity
Flagship EV's range, price and charging are front-running rather than pioneering
Jim Holder
News
3 mins read
5 October 2020

In terms of stating ambitions for the ID 3, Volkswagen couldn’t have aimed higher than labelling it as equally important as the Beetle and Golf. Here’s a car that carries the twin weights of seeking forgiveness for Dieselgate and kick-starting the brand’s electric car sales, which will surely form the backbone of its fortunes for the next 100 years.

Of course, the ID 3 is far from unique in being born out of a crisis; the post-war period provides plenty of examples, from the Beetle to the 1949 Ford and eventually the Mercedes-Benz SL and the Fiat 500.

So too the fortunes of some key sports car makers, some of whom seem to live permanently on the edge, have hung on the success of one model; think the Aston Martin DB7 and Lotus Elise.

Volkswagen’s situation is rather different than any of these, though, with its scale, global breadth and financial might meaning its fortunes today far from hang on the ID 3. In fact, its mega profits will continue to be driven by engined cars for some time yet, so the electric car’s significance owes more to how it shapes perceptions than to what it contributes to the bottom line.

It’s hard not to wonder if that lack of back-to-the-wall jeopardy is why, from the angles of range, price, charging and more, the ID 3 is front-running rather than pioneering. By that I mean it no ill will at all: by all accounts, it’s a very fine car indeed. But it’s hard to escape the impression that the need to hit emissions targets and avoid fines, rather than scratch out sales and profits, means good is currently good enough.

The brutal truth is that, rapid though the ID 3’s five-year development cycle was, Volkswgen left it too late to lay any markers in the sand in regards to pioneering in this early phase of electromobility. The true pioneers must be regarded as Tesla boss Elon Musk and ex-Nissan-Renault chief Carlos Ghosn, plus a handful of likeminded visionaries who failed, such as Henrik Fisker.

By the time the ID 3 was conceived, Volkswagen had already missed out to rivals in leading the EV vanguard (although that it put the XL1 plug-in hybrid into limited production demonstrates that the appetite to push eco extremes was alive when the opportunity to show off technical prowess was available). And now Volkswagen has been beaten to resetting the boundaries of affordable range, too, chiefly by Hyundai and Kia.

Will history one day place the ID 3 beside the Beetle and Golf, then? I suspect that will rather depend on the longevity of the name, rather than the capability of today’s car. But, pioneer or not, by breaking cover among the front-running back, the ID 3 at least puts Wolfsburg in the race again.

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wmb 5 October 2020

I don't think this is...

...A fair comparison. The VW Group still makes billions selling ICE cars and BEV's are still less then 5% of the market. Be that as it may, spurred on by the cheating scandal, they have invested millions in their electrification effort (starting basicly from scratch). Tesla had tens years before the Model S to get it right and ten more years to perfect their offerings. I don't care who you are and how mush funding you have, to spot your competition fifteen years head start is a big lead and a lot of ground to make up! To invest some much into a market so small, one where the leader in that endeavor has only begun to make a profit, is monumental, IMHO. Yes, it was a little disappointing to see that the ID3 was not quite the tip of the arrow that we had hoped but that shouldn't derive their compliment. The Model S of today is not the same vehicle it was when it was introduced almost 10 years ago. The sheer volume that VW plans to build from this  platform, demonstrate their commitment to seeing it grow and is a testament to what they can do in just a, relatively, short amount of time.

rickerby 5 October 2020

I don't think the technology

I don't think the technology exists at an affordable price to allow the ID3 to be any better than it is at the price. Incidentally if you ignore the meaningless list price and look at more important lease costs it looks very competitive. As for pioneering - was the Golf that pioneering? It just repackaged what Fiat had done with the 128 several years before

Sundym 5 October 2020

VW pioneering?

since when was any family VW pioneering? They had a 40 year old rear engined design as their backbone until the mk1 golf was launched in the mid 70s , well after most competitors had launched fwd cars, they then tweaked the Golf for the last 40 years ... was VW ever innovative? That's not their strength. Ps I'm a Golf owner and have loved it over the 130000 miles I've driven it!

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