VW to replace Up with ID.1 electric city car


The VW Group plans to launch 75 EVs between now and 2029 and its MEB all-electric platform will form the basis of most of those products, including an upcoming city car that will replace the venerable Up.

According to British Car magazine, the ID.1 will be the smallest ID model in an initial EV range of around 7 models. The electric city car, expected to make its global debut in 2023, will have a 5-door configuration, a distinctive blocky shape and minimal overhangs. It should have approximately the same dimensions as the Up, but is likely to be far more spacious inside than its predecessor by virtue of its EV-specific platform.

It’s anticipated that the Wolfsburg-based brand’s entry-level EV will borrow some of its styling cues from the ID.3 premium hatchback and underpin “ID.1 Crozz” crossover and “e-Roomzz” panel-van variants. Volkswagen seems to have taken Fiat's cue (to make the follow-up to the current 500 an exclusively all-electric model), which seemingly predicts the end of the Up in the medium term, although this has yet to be confirmed. 

The modular electric drive matrix (MEB) is highly scalable, not only in terms of the sizes of the vehicles that can be built on its chassis (literally, see below) but also the types of batteries it can accommodate – in the case of a city car, for example, a high-capacity battery is not as critical as in family cars or SUVs, which can lower production costs. The platform is so versatile that it could even spawn a light bakkie; indeed, read our recent opinion piece: Why VW Should Build this Electric Bakkie

It is expected that the ID.1 will be offered with 24-kWh and 36-kWh battery capacities with the latter claimed to provide an optimal range of approximately 300 km between charges. The ID.1 will compete with the Honda e and recently-unveiled Fiat 500 EV and, to a lesser extent the SA-bound Mini Cooper ES.

Volkswagen has ambitious plans to sell 1 million EVs a year by 2023 and the brand’s chief operating officer, Ralf Brandstätter, suggests the production cost of MEB-based models is 40% lower than comparable EVs based on platforms designed to accommodate conventional powertrains. 

British Car quoted him as saying: “In future, it won’t make sense putting battery cells in a car designed for an engine as we have done with the e-Up. We are working on a battery-powered EV below €20,000 (the equivalent of R364 000) – we can shrink the MEB architecture with less content to get the cost down."

It is our understanding that the ID.4 will be first all-electric Volkswagen to be offered in the South African market.

The ID.1 will then be followed by the ID.2 – a compact hatchback to rival products such as the Renault Zoe and Peugeot e-208. Back to the here and now, production of the ID.3 has already begun and it will be followed by the ID.4 family car/crossover (based on the ID Crozz concept) towards the end of 2020, which is of particular significance to Mzansi…

Volkswagen SA recently began its EV rollout programme by launching an e-Golf pilot project to gain customer insights and -feedback ahead of introducing a range of electric vehicles in South Africa. The 2nd phase is expected in 2021, when the Uitenhage-based firm will include a fleet of ID.3s in the project (neither the e-Golf or ID.3 will be offered for sale, however). But, after that, we anticipate that Volkswagen will introduce the ID.4 in the South African new-vehicle market in 2022.

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