Volkswagen is preparing a new family of electric-only cars in a bid to dominate the emerging market for cars driven by electric motors and batteries.
The family will be born in 2020 with a Golf-sized electric car priced from about $35,000, the same as a Golf diesel today.
It has a 125kW electric motor – similar to the power of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine – and a bank of batteries in the floor to give a claimed driving range of 600km.
Speaking at the 2016 Paris motor show, Volkswagen CEO Dr Herbert Diess announced a bold plan to sell one million electric vehicles annually by 2025, each based on a new electric-only platform that will be rolled out in 2020.
Referencing the Beetle and Golf, Diess revealed the I.D. concept, a car the company will launch in 2020 and sees as a potential successor to its two most iconic models.
“I.D. stands for a new era,” said Diess.
He added it wasn’t traditional car companies, but the likes of electric car maker Tesla and tech giant Apple – which is working on an autonomous project – that VW identifies as prime rivals.
“I.D. is an electric car for everyone in everyday use. It’s a real Volkswagen.
“I.D. will bring a new generation of smart, automotive user experience to millions of customers who are already used to smart devices from the world of telecommunications.”
The announcement – whereby future plans and aspirations were laid bare years before they take hold – had a hint of Tesla to it.
The Golf-sized I.D. concept has five seats claimed to give more space than a similarly sized combustion engine car as well as advanced autonomous technology.
It also ditches all traditional switches and buttons for screens.
“Controlling the car will be totally intuitive based on augmented reality projected on the windscreen and [touchscreens],” said Diess.
While he stopped short of saying it would drive itself, he said it “will be the first Volkswagen ready for automated driving”.
In taking questions after the announcement Diess refused to answer questions on the damaging and embarrassing Dieselgate scandal – whereby the company was caught cheating emissions standards – with minders informing awaiting television media the questions were only to be on the Paris motor show and the I.D. concept.