Volkswagen reveals electric car that costs less than £22,000
The battle to produce an affordable small electric car is one that many makers are finding hard to win due to safety regulations and demands on range requirements but restrictions on battery sizes, but Volkswagen under its new boss Thomas Schäfer has unveiled its concept for such a ‘people’s car’ costing less than £22,000 (€25,000).
At the same time, he also committed to an even cheaper model costing less than £17,500 (€20,000).
The ID. 2all concept is a precursor to the production launch of the troubled project which has seen concepts come and go, chief designers replaced and a single badge idea replaced by branding for Volkswagen, Cupra, Skoda and possibly Seat as well; it could also be used on VW’s Chinese-only Jetta brand.
After the combative transformation years under previous boss Herbert Diess, Schäfer is determined that VW will return to the roots of its name (Volkswagen is literally people’s car in German), the ethos that influenced the company from its inception building the first Beetle to just after the Second World War.
“I believe our heritage is an asset we need to work with,” said Schäfer at Volkswagen’s 2023 media briefing yesterday. “We need more people in our cars, democratising technology. And that’s going to apply to the Golf name, which will not disappear in future.”
While the ID. 2all concept seen here is a fairly conventional looking four-door small hatchback, previous incarnations of the proposal have been anything but.
Its predecessor the ID. Life, designed under the watch of ousted chief designer Jozef Kaban, was a more dramatic looking four-door hatch with a single-panel front and a flat roof. Rumours suggest the VW Group board being unhappy with this design and Kaban was sent his marching orders along with Diess, who left last September three years before his contract officially ended in 2025.
The replacement for the ID. Life has been designed under Andreas Mindt, who has only just been transferred from his previous job as design director for Bentley (a VW-owned company), has a more rounded look and it apparently gives a nod to the original Giugiaro-designed VW Golf, particularly around the rearmost pillar.
It is based on a development of the company’s MEB EV structure, which also underpins the ID. 3 (itself due a mid-life facelift this year) and drives the front wheels – the first MEB-based car so driven. VW is claiming the ID. 2 will set new standards for useability and technology in the small car sector. It has a 223bhp electric motor and will deliver a claimed WLTP range of up to 280 miles. Interestingly, however, no on sale date has yet been given.
The plan is to build the ID. 2 at Seat factories in Martorell and Pamplona, which will be supplied with batteries from an all-new £8.78 billion (€10 billion) 40-gigawatt battery production plant announced last November 2. This will be in Sagunto on the outskirts of Valencia and will eventually employ up to 3,000 workers.
There had been some doubt about whether this facility would go ahead when VW said the level of subsidy was too low, but the Spanish government has dug into its EU pandemic recovery war chest and come up with an initial tranche of £347 million (€397 million) towards the £766 million (€877 million) initial first-phase cost.
The Spanish government has committed itself to a further round of subsidies of up to £1.75 billion (€2 billion) to support the battery-making economy within its borders, which must come as food for the thought for the UK Government trying to convince Jaguar Land Rover to site a new battery making facility in Britain rather than in Spain.
VW doesn’t want to stop there with its small car plans. Schäfer said yesterday that his engineers and designers are working on a yet smaller sub-€20,000 (£17,500) car with which to entice the people of the world and said he’ll be reporting on this soon.
It’s all a pleasant change from what will likely become known as the Diess years of combative press relations and rather pitiful attempts to emulate Elon Musk with controversial statements and tweets.
Schäfer’s style is more approachable and he is determined to address the confusion (some might even say the sins) of the past including addressing the touchscreen issues of recent Gold Mk8-based models with a redesign of the Cariad software. While he claims that customers have welcomed the newly redesigned steering wheel buttons to address their touchscreen woes, he also admits there is more to be done in this area.
“We will leave no stone unturned,” he said, “and while we have possibly overstepped the mark [with touchscreen systems], isn’t that what we should be doing? But we need to be big enough to take a step backward when it is required… And yes, there will be no more unilluminated sliders and buttons in future…”
Amen to that.