Volkswagen’s New Electric Car Looks Amazing, But There’s a Big Catch

Volkswagen’s EV successor to the Golf and Beetle looks ready for mass-market adoption.


On Monday evening, Volkswagen launched the all-new all-electric ID.3 hatchback at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The car arrives to great fanfare, as VW’s people’s-car successor to the Golf and the Beetle and a harbinger for the company’s electric future. Early reports suggest the ID.3 should deliver on the hype.

The ID.3, judging from photographs, looks fantastic. It’s simple and well-proportioned. It resembles what European buyers would want, an updated interpretation of the base Volkswagen Golf (the market’s best-selling car). The off-color black roof and liftgate are au courant without being gaudy. The flash of chrome and logo at the front accounts for the absent grille. EVs looking like cars is a movement we can all support.

A lack of range kept VW’s e-Golf, which could only go 125 miles on a charge according to the EPA, from mass adoption. Volkswagen has resolved that anxiety with the ID.3. First editions will have the mid-range 58-kilowatt-hour battery delivering a range of 260 miles on the Euro-market WLTP cycle (probably around 220 miles EPA). The ID.3 will also have short-range 45-kWh and long-range 77-kWh batteries giving WLTP ranges of 205 miles (175-ish EPA) and 341 miles (290-ish EPA). VW says the ID.3 will absorb 180 miles of range in 30 minutes on a fast charger.

Volkswagen did not give full pricing for the ID.3. The short-range model will start below $33,000 in Germany. Beyond that, VW says prices will be “comparable to that of typical compact vehicles” after the tax subsidies. Buyers will get free charging for a year and an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the battery.

We did not learn any performance details yet. Though Volkswagen says the ID.3 will have a super-low center of gravity “like in racing cars” with the battery packs, and “ideal weight distribution” thanks in part to its standard rear-axle drive. (If there’s one company you would trust to produce a practical, well-handling compact, it would be Volkswagen.)

The only downside, though, is a killer. Volkswagen has no current plans to bring the ID.3 hatchback to the North American market. Perhaps the 268-percent bump in U.S. e-Golf sales so far in 2019 will inspire VW to rethink that stance. The ID.3’s top-notch looks should at least inspire confidence that the eventual ID-platform crossover that arrives Stateside won’t be an overly futuristic ogre.

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