VW’s electric car will have three versions, with driving ranges from 330km-550km. Picture: SUPPLIED
VW’s electric car will have three versions, with driving ranges from 330km-550km. Picture: SUPPLIED

Pre-orders have begun rolling in to Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters ahead of the mid-2020 showroom debut of its first fully fledged electric car.

The groundbreaking Volkswagen, once known only as the ID hatch, has been renamed the ID.3 and will cost less than €30,000 in Germany.

European customers have been asked for €1,000 to reserve their place in the queue for the ID.3’s limited-edition First model, which comes complete with a year’s free charging on the Ionity high-speed network for up to 2,000kWh.

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Only 30,000 of the First models will be made and VW insists the ID.3 will be carbon-neutral before it’s delivered to the customer.

A lifetime spent on solar, wind, nuclear or hydroelectric power would mean its only carbon emissions would come from its brakes and tyres.

People on the prebooked list of 30,000 will be able to receive a full refund if they change their minds, though they’ll be able to order their cars after the ID.3 goes on sale at the Frankfurt show.

All First-edition orders will be locked in from April 2020, with customers able to choose from four colours and three trim levels.

Its initial offering will concentrate heavily on countries with already-high EV acceptance or subsidies, so expect Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany to be the initial pacesetters.

The production version of the hatch will be 4,100mm long, making it marginally bigger (by 155mm) than the current Golf.

It will be built in the eastern German Zwickau factory, with Volkswagen aiming to deliver at least 100,000 cars in 2020 before climbing slightly to 110,000 cars a year after that.

The plan is to offer the ID.3 with 45, 58 and 77kWh battery capacities to give it a range of showroom prices in much the same way different engine sizes and outputs deliver a range of prices in internal-combustion models.

That teases with calculated ranges of 330km, 420km and 550km from each of them respectively, though VW insists the ID.3’s MEB skateboard architecture could swallow much bigger battery capacities than that.

The initial run of 30,000 ID.3 First models will all use the mid-level 58kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted between the wheelbase, deep inside the floor.

It will also come with the full-length panoramic sunroof as standard, an augmented-reality head-up display and a 125kW charger.

VW insists the 125kW charger will give it 260km of range in 30 minutes, though it has access to the full Ionity charging network in Europe and the Electrify America network in the US.

Volkswagen claims its running costs will undercut those of an equivalent internal-combustion car by 30%.

“Part of the beauty of following Tesla is that we’ve seen positives and downsides,” VW admitted.

“We want to make this car a normal experience as soon as possible; we don’t want people to sit in long queues for too long.”

Set to be launched as a production car at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the ID.3 will have the same rough footprint as the current Golf, though it’s about the same size as the Passat inside.

It has scored the “3” part of the name to give Volkswagen space to slot two cheaper battery-electric cars beneath its maiden full-house electric car effort, as well as because VW claims it’s the third step-change, after the Beetle and the Golf.

Volkswagen has booked the rights for ID.1 through to ID.10 to accommodate a sub-€20,000, entry-level ID.1 from about 2023 all the way up to the Roomzz flagship SUV, the ultra-long Vizzion limousine, the Crozz SUV and the Buzz van, though there’s no word on the ID Dune Buggy Volkswagen debuted in Geneva in March.

Volkswagen doesn’t have any immediate plans to import the ID.3 to SA, but says electric cars may be part of its longer-term plans once government policy is more conducive to it. At the moment, electric vehicles imported from Europe attract higher import duties than petrol- or diesel-powered cars.