Volkswagen ID. hatchback 2019: specs and prototype review

Pre-orders for the Volkswagen ID. hatchback will open in May, with the car set to be revealed in late 2019

The Volkswagen ID. hatchback will be available to pre-order from 8 May, with the car due to be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

Volkswagen's brand board member for sales Jurgen Stackmann said it was "not improbable that the launch edition will already have sold out" before it's officially revealed.

Volkswagen will take deposits for the ID. hatch from UK customers as soon as pre-orders open, although prices haven't been confirmed. However, the German carmaker has said prices will start from less than €30,000 (approximately £26,000).

The longest-range version is expected to deliver around 342 miles of range.

Earlier this month, Volkswagen declined to comment on rumours that the ID. hatchback will be called the Volkswagen ID. 3, while Volkswagen ID. Neo has also been suggested as a possible name for the car.

Reports suggested the ID. 3 would pave the way for a new naming structure for Volkswagen’s future electric fleet, with ID. 1, ID. 2, ID. 4 and ID. 9 badges joining the range in the next couple of years. However, Volkswagen has decided to keep details under wraps for the time being.

Stackmann has now confirmed that all of the cars built on the company's new MEB platform will carry the ID. badge, with a suffix to differentiate between different models.

"But it’s a bit too early now to say it," he added. "We’ll tell you in Frankfurt."

The company claims that its new electric, zero-emissions vehicle will be about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf, but with as much space inside as the Passat. The ID. is the first of Volkswagen’s new family of electric cars. It’ll be followed by the ID. Crozz (a sporty SUV) and, in due course, the ID. Buzz minibus and possibly an ID. Scirocco coupe.

All will be built on the MEB platform, which has been developed specifically to underpin a wide variety of electric cars. Of these, the ID. is by far the most mainstream – it's a five-door hatchback, whereas the others include a coupe-style SUV, a retro-styled minibus and a two-door coupe. The regular ID. also looks set to be the least complex: it'll be rear-wheel drive at first, although four-wheel drive and sporty versions will follow in due course.

Volkswagen ID. powertrain

Not all details are confirmed yet, but Volkswagen has said that the ID. will come with a choice of three powertrains. At the bottom of the range will be an ID. with a 48kWh battery and a range of just over 200 miles. It'll also have the weakest performance, but with 120bhp should compare well to a mid-range Golf.

Volkswagen originally targeted a range of 250 miles for the mid-range 55kWh model, but apparently the finished article actually gets closer to 280. The company is still working on the specifications of the range-topping 62kWh version, but it's confident that 342 miles can be achieved from a single charge.

Meanwhile, the car will support two forms of AC charging – 7.2kW and 11kW – as well as being compatible with fast DC charging at up to 125kW via a CCS connector. Depending on battery size, charging from flat to 80% will take between 30 and 45 minutes.

Styling

So far, we’ve only seen concept versions of the ID. and we expect some of their more outlandish features won’t make it into production. The sliding rear doors will probably be replaced by more conventional hinged units and the steering wheel won’t retract into the dashboard when it’s not needed.

However, Volkswagen has confirmed that all ID. models will have a black roof and tailgate to help set them apart from other cars in the brand's range.

Inside, the ID. should be just as distinctive, with a minimal dashboard design boasting no buttons. Plus, thanks to the way electric cars are built, the interior will be very spacious. There should be enough room for four in complete comfort and the floor will be nice and flat, however there'll be no storage at the front thanks to the positioning of the air conditioning system.

There's no glovebox either, with the only interior storage space located in the centre console.

Price and release date

Pre-orders for the ID. will begin on 8 May, although a full on-sale date is still to be announced. The car will be launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with the first customer deliveries following in 2020. 

The starting price should be less than £26,000, with a figure as low as £22,500 still possible, and that's before the Government's plug-in car grant has been taken into account. With the £3,500 discount applied, UK buyers would pay from just £19,000.

However, while there'll be a range of models on offer, we’ve been told there will be far fewer permutations of trim, colour and options than in, for example, the Golf range in order to make the ID. line-up less complex and more affordable.

Volkswagen ID. hatch prototype review

Ahead of the official launch of the Volkswagen ID., our sister title Auto Express went for an early drive in a prototype model of the forthcoming electric hatchback.

On the road, it’s evident that the ID. isn’t going to be the quickest electric car ever: the production version will weigh in the region of two tonnes, 500kg of which is the battery. Volkswagen says lightweight materials like aluminium would make the ID. too expensive, so the company is settling for leisurely performance in order to keep costs down.

The ID. is quiet inside, and Volkswagen has worked hard to keep the humming noise synonymous with electric cars down to an absolute minimum. As such, it should be quieter on the move than the Hyundai Kona Electric.

Volkswagen has taken a different approach with regenerative braking as well: many electric cars have paddles either side of the wheel to give drivers precise control over energy recovery, however the ID. won’t have these, as Volkswagen believes people won’t want them. They would only add to the price tag, too.

There'll be a regenerative braking mode, which will enable drivers to slow to a complete stop without touching the brake pedal, in much the same way that the Nissan Leaf does with its ‘e-Pedal’. However, on the prototype ID. at least, changes in speed felt very abrupt; Volkswagen says a more developed system will be in place by the time the car reaches showrooms.

All in all, the ID. looks set to be a very capable, no-frills electric hatchback, and while the performance won’t be groundbreaking, the price just might be: a post-grant figure of £19,000 will make it seriously affordable, especially when the fuel savings are taken into account.

Volkswagen ID. hatchback to be carbon-neutral

The ID. hatchback will be the world’s first completely carbon-neutral car when it launches. Volkswagen has taken steps to ensure that the manufacturing process of the ID. hatchback will leave no carbon footprint when production begins. The car’s battery cells will be made in Europe using green energy, while the assembly plant in Zwickau, Germany, is already running on power from renewable sources.

The carmaker is also investigating potential CO2 savings within its supply chain, and says “unavoidable” emissions will be offset by “social and ecological projects” in Asia and Brazil.

It estimates that improvements in the ID. hatchback’s production will save a million tonnes of CO2 annually – a level it claims is roughly equal to a coal-fired power station serving 300,000 homes over the course of a year. This decarbonisation programme will eventually be extended to other models. Volkswagen wants to be a completely carbon-neutral company by 2050.

As for the impact of running the ID. hatchback, Volkswagen is urging customers to charge up using electricity from renewable sources, in order to ensure carbon neutrality throughout its lifecycle.

Volkswagen’s Elli wallbox charger offers “regeneratively produced electricity”, while the IONITY network – established by a group of manufacturers including Volkswagen – offers green power “wherever available”.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our times,” said Thomas Ulbrich, the board member responsible for Volkswagen’s e-mobility programme. “To ensure that [the ID.] remains emission-free during its lifecycle, we are working on many different ways to use green power. Truly sustainable mobility is feasible if we all want it and we all work on it.”

Volkswagen has invested billions in its electric-vehicle fleet, with 20 fully electric models set to go on sale by 2025.