VW Could Soon Sell the Cheap Electric Car the World Really Needs

The badge Volkswagen chooses for its new cheap EV line could bring tradition into the electric era.

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We’ve got good news for those of us whose idea of a people’s car involves something powered by batteries. Volkswagen is planning a new line of cheap electric vehicles as part of its massive, multi-billion dollar push for EV domination. These new models — which will smaller than the Golf-sized ID.3 revealed last year  — will be based on a modified version of the MEB platform that serves as the backbone for most of the brand’s new EVs. VW wants to bring the cars to market at a cost below €20,000 — about $21,825 at current exchange rates — which could have a mighty effect in democratizing electric cars amongst the masses.

However, these game-changing EVs earlier seemed likely to languish abroad under a lesser brand name, like SEAT or Skoda. At least, that’s what we thought until now. Automotive News Europe is reporting that VW is pulling the project from SEAT for another brand in the Volkswagen Group stable…and a source tells them that the brand likely will be Volkswagen itself.

Using the VW brand will be fitting — and not just because Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche would be poor fits. The brand began with the Beetle — a car that would bring cheap, efficient transportation to the masses like nothing since the Ford Model T. It would make sense to continue that throughline into the electric future.

Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect these new entry-level EVs to make it to the U.S. Mini may be testing the market, but electric city cars aren’t well suited to U.S. consumers — at least until urban charging infrastructure ramps up. VW, in particular, has had trouble selling small cars in the U.S., and is not planning on bringing the ID.3 over. Europe and Asia should be better-suited for these cars.

Maybe the right branding — e-Beetle has to be too much of a slam dunk for VW to pass up — could convince VW to bring small electric cars Stateside at some point down the line. But expect initial offerings to be more like the upcoming ID.4 crossover  — replacements for the vehicles Americans are currently buying.

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