Volkswagen ID.3 electric: specs, price, details and release date

Production of the Volkswagen ID.3 electric car is underway, with UK and European deliveries expected from 'early September'

Volkswagen ID.3

Formal ordering of the Volkswagen ID.3 electric car will begin in Europe on 17 June 2020, with orders being taken in the UK and other right-hand drive markets from "mid-July" according to a brand spokesperson. However, the company has insisted it is working to the same delivery timeframe as other markets – with first customer cars due "early September".

The news that order books were set to open was revealed in a Tweet on 5 May from VW board member Juergen Stackmann. First to be allowed place orders will be those who've already reserved one of the ID.3 1ST 'launch edition' cars; Stackmann says dealers will be in contact with those customers in the coming days.

Earlier in May, the ID.3 secured two accolades in the Automative Brand Contest design competition in Germany. The soon-to-arrive car was named 'Best of the Best' in both the exterior and interior categories for car designs from volume brands.

Another Volkswagen ID electric vehicle, the ID. Space Vizzion, came out on top in the concept-car category, while the new Volkswagen Golf was also commended by the judging panel.

Volkswagen ID.3 production

The Volkswagen ID.3 electric car resumed production on 23 April, following several weeks of the company's Zwickau factory in Saxony, eastern Germany, being closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Production is set to ramp up gradually, with additional measures to protect the health and safety of workers being implemented. Volkswagen also says the restart has been orientated to "the gradual stabilisation of international supply chains".

“We all have a historic task to accomplish. That task is to protect the health of our employees – and at the same time get business back on track responsibly”, said Thomas Ulbrich, board member for e-mobility and spokesperson for the management board of Volkswagen Saxony.

Initial production volume will be 50 cars per day – around one-third of the factory's maximum capacity. Measures being adopted to protect employees include rules on distance and hygiene, mandatory wearing of mouth and nose protection in areas where minimum distances aren't possible, shorter cleaning intervals, the staggering of shifts and employees being asked to take their temperature before starting the work day.

Jens Rothe, chairman of the works council at Volkswagen Saxony, said: “We have reached agreement with the company on new measures to protect employees. We will not be taking any risks, the health of employees has absolute priority – even if it means producing fewer cars."

Software issue

Earlier in 2020, there was speculation that software issues had caused delays to the early stages of ID.3 production, but the company said at the time that UK customers would still start to receive their cars this summer. 

While admitting that the cars would require a software update, it confirmed in a statement that UK delivery timings were unaffected. “The timeline for the ID.3 has not changed. Production of the First Edition began with a very flat start-up curve, rising steadily to market launch this summer," the statement said.

"Our aim is to deliver 30,000 ID.3 First Editions simultaneously to customers in our pre-booking markets in Europe. The software is installed in the vehicles when they are produced in Zwickau – and will be updated to the latest version in the summer prior to customer handover.”

Production versions of the ID.3 began rolling out of the Zwickau plant in early November 2019. The factory contains 1,700 robots, with driverless transport systems and automated manufacturing technology used throughout the line; it'll build electric vehicles only from 2021.

Volkswagen ID.3 1ST

Volkswagen ID.3 battery and charging

The ID.3 1ST comes with a 58kWh battery and an electric motor producing 201bhp at the rear wheels. Acceleration figures haven’t been released, but the ID.3 is engineered for a more leisurely pace with a top speed of 99mph.

Every UK model will get 100kW DC fast charging capability, as well as two forms of AC charging – 7.2 and 11kW. Volkswagen has confirmed it will offer even quicker 125kW charging at a later date.

Volkswagen is offering ID.3 1ST buyers a year of free charging (up to 2,000kWh) on the fledgling IONITY network, as well as an eight-year/99,000-mile warranty on its battery unit for peace of mind. Following the ID.3 1ST, more versions will launch, offering more battery options including a 45kWh with a range of 205 miles and a larger-capacity 77kWh and a range of 342 miles.

Along with the larger battery, Volkswagen will offer the ID.3 with a "two-second performance upgrade" – reducing the car's 0-100kmh (62mph) time by two seconds. It's not clear if this requires fundamental changes to the ID's hardware or whether this is simply a software update. More information will be made available in due course.


Volkswagen ID.3: specs, price and design

The Golf-sized ID.3 will initially launch as a limited-edition ‘1ST’ model, which in Europe will be offered in three guises. The UK will only be offered the mid-spec 1ST Plus, which is expected to cost just over £40,000. Formal ordering for those who've reserved a 1ST begins in mid-July.

Volkswagen is calling the ID "the electric car for the masses" – and prices for the series production model (set for launch four weeks after 1ST models arrive) will start at under €30,000 in Germany, but haven’t been confirmed for the UK yet. However, with the Government subsidy of £3,000, it should come in at around £25,000. This is the first car to be built on the VW Group’s MEB electric-car platform.

Standard kit is expected to include sat-nav, DAB radio, climate control, heated seats and a heated steering wheel, as well as 19-inch wheels, keyless access and LED tail-lights.

The ID.3’s design is markedly different from Volkswagen's other models. Short overhangs, a long wheelbase, flowing surfaces, a unique honeycomb design on the C-pillar, a black glass bootlid surrounded by slim LED lights and a black panoramic roof set it apart. Three alloy-wheel sizes will be available: 18, 19 and 20 inches.

As an electric car doesn’t require large cooling ports, the focal point for the front of the ID.3 are its ‘interactive’ LED matrix headlights. One of the ‘party tricks’ of these lights is that to make the car ‘flutter its eyelids’ when the driver approaches. The headlights also feature Dynamic Light Assist main-beam control, which uses a camera on the windscreen to monitor the road and adjust the lights to avoid dazzling other motorists.

Volkswagen has also announced that the ID.3 will feature the company’s new ID. Light technology, which uses an LED strip in the cabin convey information the driver. It says the ID. Light changes colour to show when the car is switched on and if it's locked or unlocked. Green indicates a fully charged battery, while red acts as a warning during braking. The LED strip will blink to recommend changing lanes, and also signal incoming phone calls.

The ID.3 is as long as a Golf, at 4.2 metres, and is 1.8 metres wide, 1.5 metres high and weighs 1,700kg. With a turning circle of 10.2 metres, it has been engineered to be easy to drive in urban environments. There’s also a special towing bracket incorporated in the rear bumper of the ID.3 for carrying bikes.

Interior and technology

Inside, Volkswagen says, the five-seat ID.3 should feel spacious and airy. It doesn’t have a centre tunnel, freeing up space between front and rear, and with short overhangs VW has been able to maximise every millimetre of space. The boot is big, too, holding 385 litres with the seats up thanks to a flat battery. The low placement of the battery should help with the car’s handling, too.

There’s a centrally positioned 10-inch touch screen and an LED light strip for navigation that can also warn you to brake. An optional head-up display projects relevant information on to the windscreen, and all the buttons are touch-sensitive. There’s also natural voice control, allowing drivers and passengers to talk to the car in a more human way, while safety technology is plentiful. A camera on the windscreen identifies road signs, and there’s emergency braking, pedestrian monitoring and lane-keeping aids.

Low-speed sound signature

Volkswagen previewed the low-speed sound signature that its ID.3 electric hatchback will emit in order to warn other road users of its presence at the 'DRIVE.Forum' event in Berlin in early December 2019.

As of July 2019, all newly introduced electric cars have had to come with a sound generator that emits noise at speeds up to 30kph (19mph), as well as when moving off or reversing. This came in response to concerns that other road users – such as pedestrians and cyclists, and in particular visually impaired people – could be in danger of not noticing a nearby electric car due to its near-silent running.

The setup is known as an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), and although the volume of sound emitted is specified by regulations, the noise itself is not, which gives car manufacturers the opportunity to develop different 'sound signatures' to set their models apart. You can hear the ID.3's by playing the embedded video above.

The AVAS in the ID.3 can be heard both inside and outside at up to 19mph. Inside the vehicle, different stages of the driving sound can be heard based on your speed and accelerator pedal position. Beyond this speed, the vehicle’s rolling resistance and driving noise become more prominent.

Commenting on the sound, VW's chief development officer for passenger cars, Dr Frank Welsch, said: "An electric vehicle’s sound defines its identity. The sound should be confident and likeable. It may well sound futuristic and must also impress with its unique character."

Prototype review

Ahead of the official launch of the Volkswagen ID.3 our sister title Auto Express went for an early drive in a prototype model. On the road, it’s evident that the ID.3 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.

VW says lightweight materials like aluminium would make the ID.3 too expensive, so the company is settling for leisurely performance in order to keep costs down. The ID.3 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.3 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.3 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.3 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 less than £30,000 would make it seriously affordable, especially when the fuel savings are taken into account.

Carbon-neutral commitment

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.3 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.3 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.3 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.3] 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.”