Question of the Day

Why does the VW ID concept have to look more styled than a VW Golf?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The ID concept is claimed to have a 371 mile range (compared to the 248 miles of a Renault Zoe). At present Chevrolet’s Bolt promises around 230 or so (and Car and Driver have confirmed this). I’m more interested in the visual semantics of electric cars though. Tesla have chosen to make their cars look quite conventional (less so with the X). BMW have opted for po-mo design while the Zoe could conceivably be an ordinary modernist car: not Tesla’s classicism and nor either obviously outré. Harley Earl insisted customers got a visual receipt for their purchase – VW is adhering to this while also signalling that the ID is indeed not a Golf. My view is that the ideal electric car should very well look and behave just like the current family car archetype which, as it happens is Golf shaped. With 371 miles why not just stop selling the ICE Golfs? Most people won’t need the extra range.

(Image source: 2020 VW ID)


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

21 thoughts on “Question of the Day”

  1. It’s a concept and only there to emphasize/give a visual expression the technology underneath. It will likely have little or no impact on the next gen Golf, and probably not much more on whatever dedicated EV they eventually come up with.

    1. As for answering the question: EV’s don’t have to look different from ICE-powered cars, but there’s no harm in exploring other avenues if the package offers more flexibility.

  2. Has the Zoe had a battery boost? When I last looked they did about 100-odd miles per charge, but I recently saw an advert claiming they now do 200 or so miles. That’s a big jump.

    1. I saw an i3 by the side of the motorway yesterday. I hope it was a flat tyre, otherwise the embarrassment would be palpable.

  3. I can see good reason for wanting to make a visual point that you are introducing new technology. But although it in no way copies it, it seems that the team were thinking about the i3 when they designed this.

    1. Definitely inspired by the i3 – the sills and wheels in particular.

  4. That’s a good reason to jump into a sector: you can define the look of that class as BMW did. Saturn didn’t or did they? They reached for the aero look but then spoiled it for after-followers.

  5. With its near-transparent appearance and strange “eyes” the ID has a bit of an axolotl look, a car-larva which might mature into a proper car, or just remain as it is.

    The dreary reality is that the concept will probably mature into something quite dull, without the ‘Lancia’ doors or the big wheels.

    1. That’s a vivid comparison. The fancy doors should stay as another special feature – otherwise simply redesign the Golf for all powertrains.

  6. Volkswagen has definitely gone for the Apple demographic. This is the car Steve Jobs would’ve designed had he designed cars like he designed iPhones. It’s smack right into the middle of early adopter of tech-demohraphic, it would definitely appeal to that consumer group. This isn’t designed with cars in mind, but with an eye towards electronic gadgets.

  7. The Golf has a good ‘alternative power’ powertrain range already; full EV, plug-in hybrid, CNG on top of the regular petrols and diesels.

    I worry that VAG may have been too clever for their own good with the Lloyd-inspired MQB platform. I’m watching the Hyundai / Kia Ioniq / Niro grouping with interest. A dedicated hybrid / PHEV / full EV platform, rather than an adapted mainstream one must have cost, manufacturing, and packaging advantages, assuming the numbers are big enough.

    There seems to be an imperative among manufacturers to make EVs and hybrids visually ‘different’ without really exploiting the packaging opportunities of the drive and storage components. The i3 is possibly best, but its lack of “traction” in the market looks likely to lead to blood on the boardroom floor in Milbertshofen.

    On the traction matter, I’m coming round to the notion that the otherwise admirable Leaf might have been better with rear wheel drive. Recent bad weather has seen the return of peremptory intervention by the needlessly brutal traction control. Give me electric 4WD or give me death, probably on a diesel-saturated industrial estate roundabout.

    1. The i3 was very much a Reithofer product, and his blood certainly won’t be spilled. Mind you, the accountants are probably praising the lord for the i range’s development costs having been written off years ago…

  8. A battery that gives 370 miles range is very heavy, which means you’re lugging around dead weight that dulls acceleration while wasting energy. It hardly helps handling or agility and means that a panic stop using the normal brakes is longer than need be. Tires are taxed by the extra weight too. The Leaf gets about 3.8 miles per kWh so you need a 100 kWh battery in this Golf concept to get the quoted range. Tesla quotes their 85 kWh battery at 544 kg or 1200 pounds, so a 100 kWh battery is going to weigh more than two cast iron Jag 3.8 litre engines. And that’s without the weight of the electric drive. No wonder Teslas weigh over 2300 kg. Where’s the sense in all this?

    So even if the EV ends up looking like a regular car and it probably should, it won’t act like it if it has a giant battery weighing it down. To me the i3 looks weird bordering on the bizarre, so sales have tended to be SOR in the US. Nor are all the customers happy:

    I believe GM is far in the lead on EVs and the Bolt will show it with its new design battery. The Volt handily has the measure of the i3 technically and looks normally bland. The Germans are flailing around trying to throw off the bad diesel vibe – the desperation seems all a bit obvious. The Prius with its 40% thermally efficient engine, better than most thermal electricity power stations including the grid losses, would sell better if it looked better. Sanity would dictate light hybrids as the best societal choice to minimize overall energy usage, but I’m only an engineer with a pencil and an unused ream of envelopes to scribble on and thus of no import to the grand policymaker bureaucrats in charge of making sure they get excellent pensions when they retire!

    1. We’re in the early stages of alternative power packs. I think as with the 1900s and the ICE there’ll be a lot of experiments to find the best fit to real needs.

  9. Reading between the lines in the linked thread, it seems that the US (or possibly just California) range-extender i3 has different settings from the European version. presumably to achieve classification as a full EV.

    Regardless of how it’s set up, the i3 range-extender looks hopelessly sub-standard, a Kymco-built 650cc twin with only 34bhp. Just why, when BMW Motorrad are pretty competent at making small engines incuding parallel twins these days? This looks like a cheap add-on afterthought.

    My i3 rescue plan would be a an i8-lite powertrain with a more modestly tuned B38 triple, but that would be a plug-in hybrid, rather than an REx EV. Still, diversity is the keyword of the moment – see previous comments on Hyundai / Kia and VAG, who are keeping a toe in every camp.

  10. Caveat Emptor. That review does highlight the fact that some people go into EV ownership naively, to say the least. The reviewer seems surprised that her car isn’t as powerful, comfortable and luxurious as other BMW’s she has owned. Can the presence of a spinning propeller badge really make you completely unaware of the shape and dimensions of the car it’s attached to?

    I suppose I can understand the surprise at the range extender’s uselessness, but only because, again, some people believe that BMWs are technically flawless. As soon as the i3 Range Extender’s specification was available, a bit of crude maths made it clear that it was only a slow-lane, limp home device. It has always seemed a cynical afterthought, probably driven by marketing more than engineering, and one that is potentially dangerous since if it cuts in on a motorway the car ends up going far too slowly.

    The i3 came to the market from concept impressively quickly. Probably too quickly.

  11. When reading an article about this VW in the newspaper today, it occurred to me that presenting a car called ‘ID’ in Paris is quite a bold deed. But then I thought, on the other hand, is it really much less of an offence to slap a ‘DS’ nameplate on a blingblinged Peugeot without any technical advance?

    1. Simon – I wish I had spotted the cheekiness of VW’s naming. If it was in my power I’d award you a year’s free subscripion to DTW. Why has no-one else spotted this?

    2. I only noticed it after they elaborated in the newspaper that it’s meant to read ‘idea’ or ‘idée’. So the subscription goes to the journalist… No mention was made of the real ID, though.

  12. Simon: the journalist simply repeated what´s on the car. You made the link to the other ID. Volkswagen deserve a biscuit for thinking of the gag. Or else they don´t deserve a biscuit because they just thought I.D. was a neat reference to industrial design or identification. The hypothetical subscription to DTW still stands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: