With up to 550km of range on a single charge, the ID.3 is an electric car with real-world practicality. Picture: REUTERS
With up to 550km of range on a single charge, the ID.3 is an electric car with real-world practicality. Picture: REUTERS

The original People’s Car is about to become the People’s Electric Car with Volkswagen unveiling its all-electric ID.3.

Starting at less than €30,000 (R488,000) in its home market of Germany, the oft-teased ID.3 has the interior size of a Passat even though the footprint is the size of a Golf.

It’s the first on-sale VW-brand evidence of the Volkswagen Group’s €9bn electrification push between now and 2023, which will spread across all of its brands except Ducati and Bugatti and has even borne fruit at Lamborghini already. Its other EV hits have been the Porsche Taycan, the Audi e-tron and the upcoming Audi e-tron GT.

The ID.3 will have up to 550km of range and can recharge to 290km of range in just 30 minutes on a 100kW direct-current charger.

The ID.3 is the first of dozens of electric cars planned off the Volkswagen Group’s Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) architecture, which will spawn at least five more Volkswagens and two Audis.

It doesn’t just walk the environmentally friendly talk, either. The ID.3 is the first Volkswagen to guarantee not just CO²-neutral production, but an entirely CO²-neutral supply chain, too.

“With the ID.3 Volkswagen is heading towards the future,” Volkswagen’s design boss Klaus Bischoff insisted.

“The natural style and absolutely intuitive user experience demonstrate a new, electric way of thinking.”

VOLKSWAGEN IS ALSO OFFERING AN EIGHT-YEAR, 160,000KM GUARANTEE ON ID.3 BATTERIES

The ID.3 1st edition will arrive with the mid-range 58kW/hour lithium-ion battery, which will be enough for 420km of range. It will be straddled later by an entry-level 45kW/h ID.3 and a thumping 77kW/h version, complete with 550km of electric range on a single charge.

Volkswagen is also offering an eight-year, 160,000km guarantee on ID.3 batteries.

With a 150W/310Nm electric motor on the rear axle, the ID.3 1st edition is strong enough for a 160km/h top speed, limited by its single-speed gearbox.

While the battery pack has been integrated into the MEB platform’s space between the axles, the actual driving shenanigans are isolated to the rear axle, which kind of takes Volkswagen back in time. The electric motor, its single-speed gearbox and the power electronics are all integrated into the rear axle.

The really tough engineering has been in keeping its kerb weight down to 1,719kg in its small-battery version — about 300kg more than a base-level Golf. The five-seater’s luggage capacity sits at 385l.

Higher versions of the ID.3 will get adaptive cruise control, matrix LED headlights, augmented-reality head-up display and lane keeping assist.

All controls use touch functions or touch-sensitive buttons, with the only traditional switches being those operating the windows and the hazard lights. For those who don’t like full touch operation, there is a next-level voice-activation system.

Volkwagen says it’s too early to confirm whether the ID.3 is destined for SA.