Preview: Electric Volkswagen ID.3

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Volkswagen wants to combine the feel-good vibes of the classic Beetle, along with the practical shape of a Golf hatchback. The result is the electric-powered ID.3, a zero emission compact car with a big job ahead of it.

  • The ID.3 has a choice of three different battery packs.
  • Range is estimated between 200-350 miles per charge, using European testing methods.
  • The starting price of the ID.3 is approximately $34,000.
  • A crossover based on the ID.3 platform is expected to reach the U.S. in 2020.

The Volkswagen ID.3 is the German automaker’s most important vehicle since the original Beetle was still rolling out of factories and into customer hands. That’s because this compact electric cars rides on VW’s new MEB architecture, which will form the base for dozens of upcoming EVs of all shapes and sizes in the years ahead. Set to arrive in Europe by the middle of 2020, the ID.3 is the culmination of billions of dollars of investment, as VW pivots itself into becoming a global leader in vehicle electrification.

Does it look like it’s going to be any good? To answer that simple question, we’ll break the ID.3 down into four main categories: Style, Performance, Price, and Possibilities. That last category sounds a little murky, though it’s the most important part of the ID.3’s upcoming mission.

The VW ID.3 is about the same length as a Golf hatchback, but rides on a longer wheelbase. (Photo: VW)

Style: VW plays it safe

For a car meant to revolutionize Volkswagen’s image, the ID.3 doesn’t look particularly earth-shattering from the outside. Stretching 167.8-inches in length, it’s almost the same size as the current four-door Golf hatchback. The nose is more blunt, while the front and rear overhangs are much shorter. Overall, the ID.3 has a wheelbase that’s more than four inches longer than on the Golf.

This pushes the wheels to the far corners of the car, giving it a planted and solid stance. That chunky C-pillar at the rear is meant to mimic the design feature found on the popular Golf – a car that’s routinely a best-seller in Europe. At the back of the ID.3, a blacked-out tailgate is flanked by two slim LED taillights. It’s a handsome small car, though VW played things safe with the exterior.

All major controls and functions are accessed via two screens on the ID.3’s dashboard. (Photo: VW)

Step inside and you’ll find VW opted not to push the envelope in the cabin, either. The dashboard is dominated by a central touch screen, a layout similar to the minimalist approach used in the Tesla Model 3. There is a smaller screen directly in front of the driver, attached to the steering column. This can be used in split-screen format, to show information such as speed and remaining battery life, along with trip info and navigation commands. The rest of the five-passenger cabin is straightforward, with two bucket seats in front and a bench seat in the rear.

The VW ID.3 is offered with a choice of three lithium-ion battery packs. (Photo: VW)

Performance: Right in the thick of the EV sweet spot

Volkswagen realizes some car shoppers will prioritize range and performance, while others consider price to be the most important aspect of their purchase. With this in mind, the ID.3 is available with three sizes of battery pack, starting from 45-kWh, to a mid-level 58-kWh pack, and onward to the range-topping 77-kWh model. The higher you go, the quicker the ID.3 accelerates and the longer the driving range. While VW has not announced any performance figures the range of the ID.3 was revealed during the car’s appearance at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Using European testing methods, the base ID.3 is capable of 205 miles per charge. One level higher, range jumps to 260 miles. At the top end, the ID.3 has 340-miles of driving range. Using a quick-charger, VW estimates an ID.3 owner can get roughly 180 miles of range with about 30 minutes of charge time.

Keep in mind, EPA-estimated EV range is routinely lower than the numbers posted when using European testing estimates. So take these early figures with a grain of salt – at least until Volkswagen tosses us the keys to an ID.3 to test one ourselves.

One surprise is that the ID.3 is rear-wheel drive, versus the far more common front-wheel drive format used on many compact cars. An all-wheel drive version is likely, though the ID.3 already rings in at more than 3,500 pounds in base format. For comparison, an entry-level Golf is about 500 pounds lighter.

In Europe, pre-orders for the Volkswagen ID.3 have already been open for months. (Photo: VW)

Price: No bargain, especially for performance trims

In Europe, the entry-level version of the ID.3 has a starting price of approximately $34,000 at current  exchange rates. Online orders for the first 30,000 units quickly sold out, long ahead of the car’s arrival in mid-2020. This gets early-adopters into a mid-level ID.3, the model powered by the 58-kWh battery pack and with 260 miles of range. This version of the ID.3 stickers for around $44,000. It begs to reason the range-topping trim, with the 77-kWh pack, could easily streak its way past $50,000 when fully optioned.

The price for an ID.3 stretches from about $34,000, to more than $50,000 for the range-topping variant. (Photo: VW)

That’s before factoring various subsidies and tax incentives in the dozens of countries where the ID.3 will be sold. In Germany, subsidies for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles were recently raised, to help entice car shoppers into considering an EV.

Expect plenty more electric cars and trucks from Volkswagen in the years ahead. (Photo: VW)

Possibilities: Mainstream models, nostalgic outliers

The bad news is that the ID.3 is not scheduled to be sold in the U.S. That could change but, for the moment, VW is opting to keep the compact hatch focused on markets in Europe and Asia. This doesn’t mean North America is being swept under the EV rug, so to speak. Volkswagen will soon reveal the its first electric vehicle aimed at the U.S., and the vehicle will likely bear a strong resemblance to the ID.Crozz concept.

This sleek SUV would ride on the same MEB architecture used in the ID.3 production car. To cope with the added weight and available all-wheel drive hardware of a crossover, the powertrain would likely rely on the two larger battery packs found in the ID.3. Anything less might not have enough power and driving range for this electric SUV to be taken seriously.

Volkswagen’s first EV for the U.S. will be similar to the ID.Crozz Concept SUV, seen here. (Photo: VW)

As for the name and on-sale date, Automotive News reports the model will be called the ID.4 and is expected to arrive here in late 2020. Pricing has not been revealed, though we think an educated guess would place the starting MSRP around $40,000, before factoring in any federal and state EV incentives.

While it would never be a high volume model, a production model based on the ID.Buggy (seen here) could give the VW’s electric lineup an entertaining feel-good factor. (Photo: VW)

Even more exciting is the fact the ID family tree will grow further, with a retro-themed van similar to the ID.Buzz concept, coming within 2-3 years. Other additions could include mainstream models, like the ID. Space Vizzon, or quirky outliers such as the adorable ID.Buggy. This throwback to the classic 1960s-era dune buggy could give VW’s electric car range added spark needed to drive people into dealerships.


The Volkswagen ID.3 is the first step in one giant move towards electrification. VW plans on selling millions of EVs in the years ahead, but that goal initially rests on the fenders of this compact electric-powered hatchback.

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