Origami ID.3 may lack adequate identity for VW

As the biggest car company in the world, Volkswagen has a responsibility to lead the new car market, opines Iain Robertson, although he is concerned that its paper-folded design stance, while light and airy, is lacking slightly in design direction.

In the years prior to the electronic revolution, children would climb trees, play cowboys and Indians, have tea parties and make toys from paper. The Japanese art of paper-folding, Origami, was a practical proposition indoors, on rainy days. With experience, wing flapping ‘birds’ and blossoming lotus ‘flowers’ were major achievements. VW’s latest ID.3 reminds me of Origami…or the professional way the books would represent it.

Emerging into the glow of an EV dawn, if not a standout design, at least ID.3 is unthreatening and appears to be user-friendly. As the culmination of three nudging four decades of VW innovation, as the German company has attempted to squeeze extra fuel economy from its core vehicles, it has definitely not rushed into the EV melee. Yet, the new ID. model lineage is one that will grow organically.

Unveiled this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the latest VW is a three-model line-up, with a trio of power options and a posted starter price of around Euros30,000. The entry-level version provides a 45kWh battery and a fully charged range of 200 miles. A 58kWh alternative is intended to cover around 250miles, while the 77kWh version should reach around 330 miles. Fast charging will enable a range of around 180 miles within 30 minutes from a 100kW charger (cable supplied).

The paper-folder’s art is continued within the cabin, the ID.3 boasting a truly minimalist design, with a small digital display pod ahead of the driver, a model-dependent augmented reality head-up display projected into the windscreen and a large centre touchscreen to control most of the car’s functions. It is a clean sheet approach that provides first-rate cabin space. An intriguing innovation is the LED light bar that provides driver assistance in conjunction with the in-built sat-nav and can even warn of a need to brake and avoid incidents.

VW’s new modular electric vehicle platform (MEB) stretches the wheels out to the corners, places the battery pack within the floor and creates a well-balanced dynamic envelope that provides safe but engaging handling. With typical VW marketing expertise, the ID.3 1st edition, for which early adopters have paid a non-committal £1,000 deposit since the May pre-launch exercise, can now be specified at supplying dealers. Its 58kWh battery enables a maximum speed of 100mph and includes sat-nav, DAB+ radio, both seat and steering wheel heating, front armrests and 18.0-inch diameter alloy wheels.

The 1st Plus variant adds a rear-view camera, cruise control, ambient cabin illumination, all-LED external lighting and 19.0-inch alloys, while the 1st Max features the augmented reality HUD, a Beats sound system, panoramic sunroof and 20.0-inch alloys. Apparently, in excess of 30,000 deposits have been placed by interested potential customers and, because it is a Volkswagen, it is sure to sell like hotcakes.

MSG Summary

Surprisingly conventional, despite its lofty ambitions for the VW Group, the new ID.3 is an important signpost to VW’s future, which will succeed at making EVs more than a secondary consideration.

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