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VW dithers over tiniest EV: report

Despite positive reception to ID.Life concept, VW to ditch retro look for entry EV

14 Mar 2022

DESPITE Volkswagen’s determination to dominate the compact battery-electric vehicle (BEV) space with its MEB-based ID models, the Wolfsburg-based brand is approaching its upcoming entry-level ID model with much circumspection.


When Volkswagen showed its retro-flavoured ID.Life at the Munich Motor Show last year, it appeared as if the German Group was ready to finally bring a game-changing small BEV to market that would supersede its pint-sized e-Up.


However, Automobilwoche reports that the design of the ID.Life has fallen out of favour, because the head of Volkswagen design, Jozef Kabaƈ and his team, have decided to shift their focus toward a more modern aesthetic that will “lure young customers who want a highly connected vehicle in the €20,000 (A$30,000) range.” 


Like the Fiat 500e, which evokes its iconic progenitor and the Honda e, which is a tribute to early generations of the Civic Hatchback, the ID.Life takes its cues from the first couple of iterations of the VW Golf, most notably the Giugiaro-penned original.  


So, what will the production version of the ID.Life, which is due in 2025 and will probably be called the ID2 look like? No-one knows. It will be a five-door hatchback that is roughly the same size as the current Polo, but with the interior space of a compact such as the Golf. The ID2 X small SUV will follow in 2026, the report said.


Paradoxically, a VW spokesperson told Automotive News Europe the ID.Life had been "extremely well received" and that there were “no plans for a new concept”.


While there seems no end to the proliferation of BEVs, most manufacturers have not aimed much lower than the small and medium segments.


Given the motor industry’s gradual transition to electrification, the poor profitability of small pure-electric cars is a headache due to the technologies and materials needed to make them. 


While some European brands such as Mini, Opel, Peugeot and Smart have converted ICE-based light hatchbacks into BEVs, those models are merely stop-gap products.


Fringe players like Citroen (Ami), Fiat (500e), Honda (e) have launched BEVs based on dedicated electric platforms but they are hardly likely to spark an EV revolution at the budget end of the market, while the major brands have yet to show their hand.    


VW recently unveiled the ID Buzz and will add six more BEVs to its ID family by 2027. One of these will be a medium sedan that will debut at next month’s Beijing Show.


As for the Australian market, none of the European brands’ light BEVs are likely to be offered here soon (although we understand examples of the Honda e have been imported privately). Chinese offerings – in the shapes GWM’s ORA sub-brand and BYD (EA1/Dolphin) – do have electric superminis lined up for local release, however.

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