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VW ID.1 / 2: E-Polo thanks to cheap batteries from 20,000 euros

VW ID.1 and ID.2 (2025)
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D currently the VW- Group launched a whole armada of electric cars based on the modular electrical construction kit (MEB) - all from the compact class upwards. The small cars with electric drive (VW E-Up, Seat Mii Electric and Skoda Citigo-e iV), which were recently particularly cheap thanks to the environmental bonus, are still based on an old combustion platform (PQ12), which first had to be elaborately adapted for electrification. In the meantime, they can no longer be ordered - they will be sold out by the end of 2021. Without funding, they were all above the 20,000 euro mark; the E-Up even cost almost 22,000 euros. In addition, the PQ platform can no longer be upgraded for new crash requirements that will apply from 2023. The end of the construction period is foreseeable, even if the three little ones should come back with an electric drive from 2022.

But VW boss Herbert Diess said in the autumn of 2019 to the Automobilwoche: 'We see mobility as a civil right 'It has to be affordable. And that is also a job for Volkswagen'. This was flanked by VW chief strategist Michael Jost. According to the manager, Volkswagen is working on an electric city car that will cost less than 20,000 euros and have a maximum range of 250 kilometers. 'We want to bring such a vehicle onto the market in 2023/2024', Jost told the 'Automobilwoche'. In a VW chart, however, the 'Entry BEV 1 & 2' is noted for the market launch in 2025.

According to VW plans, the entry-level electric models (right) will not come until 2025.

The designations ID.1 and ID.2 for the electric entry-level VW can be derived from this. That makes sense, because Volkswagen has long since had the model names ID.1 to ID.9 and ID.1X to ID.9X protected.However, it is still questionable whether the 'X' should be used for crossover or only for all-wheel drive variants of the respective model series. However, the nomenclature leaves a lot of space for models below and above the soon-to-be-launched ID.3.

Slimmed-down MEB as a basis

The new MEB on which the VW ID.3 is based However, it has long been considered too expensive as the basis for a small electric car. In fact, it can hardly be used to represent an electric car as a replacement for Up and Co. (3.60 meters in length), it can only be scaled downwards within narrow limits.

The MEB has ID .3. a wheelbase of 2.77 meters.

The wheelbase cannot be shortened as required, as the fixed battery box is located between the wheels. For this reason, Seat was initially commissioned to develop a cost-effective platform for the small e-cars. That is off the table, VW has taken on this task again and is evidently developing an only slightly shorter version of the MEB (ID.3, ID.4), which is already in production. Compared to the ID.3, the wheelbase has been shortened by just seven centimeters to 2.70 meters. For the external length, this means: Less than four meters is not possible, because the overhangs cannot be shortened at will due to the crash behavior, the smallest of the two MEB wheel sizes is an impressive 710 millimeters.

The ID.3 is 4.26 meters long, seven centimeters less wheelbase makes 4.19 meters total length. If a total of around 15 centimeters could be obtained from the overhangs, an ID.1 would be at least the length of a Polo (4.06 meters). It could then also be more of a substitute for it: Its model cycle would end normally in 2024, and offer the small car based on the modular transverse matrix (MQB) until 2025 could be lucrative for VW if the brand has sufficiently reduced its fleet consumption thanks to numerous e-cars . And an e-car replacement for the Polo is more worthwhile considering the sales potential: The Polo comes to around 700,000 units per year, which is already in regions such as the Tiguan and Golf (approx. 950,000).

Cheaper cell chemistry

In return, VW saves the most expensive part, the battery: Fewer modules are used in the same box, instead of a minimum of 48 kWh, as with the ID.3, the battery has a capacity of just 38 kWhto have. And on October 22, 2020 Herbert Diess announced on LinkedIn how VW will save even more on batteries. Actually speaking on the subject of battery recycling, the VW boss wrote: 'Iron phosphate batteries are already seen today at 2 million kilometers or 16 years old - and then still have 80% capacity for a 2nd life. However, they are heavier and the vehicles thus have a shorter range - nevertheless optimal for many applications - VW is planning lithium iron phosphate batteries - cobalt-free for the 'SMALL BEV'. The use of this cell chemistry was already possible in summer 2020 at BYD flagship Han and recently Tesla boss Elon Musk announced the use of LiFePO4 batteries in the Chinese-made Model 3. This was accompanied by an 8 percent price reduction for Tesla's entry-level model in the Middle Kingdom, which apparently led to a real run on the model during Auto China in Beijing.

Another advantage of LiFePO4 batteries is their low risk of fire. The dreaded thermal runaway of lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (Li-NMC) is alien to them, even if the cells are pierced, unlike Li-NMC cells, they do not catch fire. However, they are slightly larger with the same performance - not the best conditions for use in a small car. On the other hand: If the battery box of the MEB remains the same, it saves money and there would be enough space for sufficient capacity, even if it were equipped with a lithium iron phosphate battery.

That this type of cell is mainly used in China is booming, fits well with the third VW joint venture with JAC: A small electric car is to be built there for the Chinese market. At times there were plans to use its technology for the entry-level electric car in Europe. The plan is obviously off the table - the demands of the markets are too different. But the joint venture could help with the invisible battery installed between the axles.

Small crossover as a second entry-level model?

In order to give the comparatively expensive entry-level model added value for the customer and to be able to serve the sustained strong demand for SUVs, the small ID.1 got a crossover offshoot (ID.2) about the size of the T-Cross, even if they are designed as a city car. That would also reduce the price pressure a little and allow models with a little more return to be made with the new, smaller E-kit. VW does not want to give up the segment of particularly small cars entirely - there are enough markets (e.g. southern Europe) where tight external dimensions forthe buyers are essential. At the same time, competitors are likely to have even greater problems in making good offers at affordable production costs, which could increase the market volume for the Volkswagen group.

Bratislava instead of Emden and Emden instead of Zwickau

The plants also play a role in the Group's strategic considerations. As it became known in May, the ID.1 and its Seat and Skoda offshoots will not be built in Emden, but in Eastern Europe. The 'Handelsblatt' reported at the time that the Group's supervisory board had made the fundamental decision to manufacture the e-model in Bratislava, Slovakia. Accordingly, a sales price of almost 20,000 euros is not feasible in view of the wage costs in Germany. VW is aiming for a price of less than 25,000 euros for the ID.2.

With the decision, a small domino of works will probably start. Emden is to be compensated by the fact that the serial version of the ID. Crozz (ID.4) is to be created. This Tiguan-sized electric SUV is expected to hit the market at the end of 2020; originally it was planned to build the model in Zwickau. However, it is becoming apparent that the Saxon plant will be busy with production of the ID.3, which was recently presented at the IAA.


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