Volkswagen’s breakthrough electric family hatchback is being designed and engineered as a ‘mobile device on wheels’ and will remain online and connected 24 hours a day at the heart of a digital ‘ecosystem’ linked to a new VW app store.
"No car or electric car can do this now, but it is coming from Volkswagen. Our new electric vehicle is not just another car. This is not a crazy story, but a realistic one," says Christian Senger, boss of VW’s electric car project.
"The EV is perfect for this because it can always be ‘on’. The car of the future is a mobility device in a connected eco-system," added Senger.
The Golf-sized five-seater will be revealed at the Paris show later in September on a new design of motor show stand. Together they will mark Volkswagen’s fightback after 12 months of Dieselgate grief that’s likely to cost the company at least $15 billion in legal costs and compensation.
In response VW has committed to make 1 million VW-branded electric cars by 2025 in a group total of between 2 and 3 million.
Another innovation that VW is planning for its electric cars is for every driver to have a VW ID (identity), which they can carry with them on a smartphone or key and will be portable to a different vehicle or hire car to allow their personal settings to configure that car, too.
The Golf-sized electric VW will launch at the Paris show later this month with a range of 250 miles on the NEDC cycle — the equivalent of 400km — around 90 miles more than typical in todays affordable electric cars. ‘A range of 400km is fine for normal life,’ says Senger.
Athough rivals will obviously respond in the coming three years and longer range VW variants will be introduced as battery technology improves.
VW will claim best in-class interior space for the new model, thanks to its all-new ‘skateboard’ chassis, known as the MEB, with batteries slotted between the front and reae axles inside a flat, sandwich-floor.
VW is talking about 240mm extra interior space over a similar-sized internal combustion-engined car, freeing designers to allocate more legroom to front and rear occupants. "This is only possible with the new architecture," says Senger.
Significantly it will feature an all-new electrical architecture based on a new Linux system set to become the industry standard. VW refers to it an "operating system", just as in computing. sats Senger: "It can combine the low and high-speed sides and currently you can’t do that."
The BEV will use conventional production methods and materials, which means largely steel construction to ease the path to production. ‘Construction will be the same as today. There won’t be any radical body concepts,’ says Senger.