Update: ‘Mass-market & Emotional VW ID. models’ section updated.
Volkswagen unveiled a small SUV concept at the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021) – the VW ID. Life. While the concept, in its entirety, is unlikely to become a production reality, it was thought to be the first preview of Volkswagen’s budget crossover (working title: VW ID.2) that is expected to release in 2024. As we will explain further into the story, the plan has changed.
At 4,091 mm long, 1,845 mm wide, and 1,599 mm high, the VW ID. Life is roughly the size of the VW T-Cross. The concept electric SUV’s wheelbase measures 2,650 mm, and its ground clearance is 190 mm. There’s 410 litres of luggage space, which can expand more than threefold to 1,285 litres with rear seats folded down, impressive levels of room for a car of its size.
The VW ID. Life might remind you of the Honda e with its silhouette, but it’s unique in every other way. Jozef Kaban, Head of Design, Volkswagen, is the man behind this charismatic concept car.
At the front, Volkswagen has used a translucent surface where conventional cars have headlamps and a radiator grille. Three circles in satin-finished glass and a straight line above them illuminate to mark the vehicle’s presence on the road during the daytime. The outer circles, being truncated at the top and bottom, give a moderately aggressive styling at the front. Matrix LED lights are also present behind the translucent surface when it turns dark outside.
The bonnet consists of a two-layer air-chamber textile attached to the body with zip fasteners. There’s a separate lid in front of the bonnet that opens a section where there is space to store the vehicle’s charging cable. Volkswagen has neatly integrated the vehicle’s charging port in this section, beside the charging cable storage area.
On the side, the VW ID. Life has a diamond-shaped greenhouse, 20-inch alloy wheels, discretely flared wheel arch, and flush door handles. The 235/45 R20 Continental Eco Contact tires consist of sustainably produced and transparently sourced natural rubber, vegetable oil, vegetable resins, silica from rice husks, and recycled rubber. In all, there’s a 37% renewable and recycled content in the raw materials of the tires. A character line runs above the door handles to add some definition to the simple-looking sides, and the trapezoidal shape in the side sill area does the same job.
At the rear, the light graphics are the same as at the front. Like the contours of the front apron and in the area of the side sills, the contours of the rear apron have a trapezoidal shape.
The interior of the VW ID. Life oozes minimalist vibes. Volkswagen has reduced the number of parts down to the essentials of a highly futuristic EV.
There are no switches, buttons, or conventional controls. The hexagonal and open-topped steering wheel has a touch-operated section for gear selection and other functions such as turn signals, horn, and windscreen wipers. The dashboard is a plain wooden surface, and it integrates a touch surface for light and basic climate control functions. There’s no instrument cluster, just a head-up display. There is a 9-inch display in the upper part of the dashboard, though.
Volkswagen has used eco-friendly materials on the inside, too. ArtVelours Eco for the seat surfaces and door trim is one example. It consists of 71% recycled PET bottles and shredded T-shirts. Another example is shredded tires, which are the main ingredient for the rubber paint finish in the entrance area.
The roof consists of a two-layer air-chamber textile attached to the body with zip fasteners like the bonnet. The ability to remove the top means that the occupants can enjoy an open-air feeling like they were in a Targa model. Another benefit of this type of roof is weight reduction.
Variable seating layouts make the interior suitable for different needs, such as transporting long objects up to 2.25 meters, gaming, relaxing, and even sleeping. In the relaxing position, the front bench folds down so that the occupants can stretch their legs out sitting at the rear. In the sleeping position, the rear bench also folds down, providing a sleeping space that extends over two meters.
“Bring your own device is the motto,” Yasmin Pallenschat, Software Engineer, CARIAD, said during the VW ID. Life presentation. The customer’s device can handle almost everything via an app on their smartphone or tablet and attach that device to the dashboard magnetically. Changing the ventilation and climate control settings, navigation route planning, parking, communication, and infotainment functions, are all possible using this app.
The VW ID. Life’s multimedia system integrates a gaming console and a video projector for entertainment while on the move. When using the video projector, with just a press of a button, a screen measuring around 34 inches appears from the dashboard and covers up the windscreen.
MEB eco platform & specifications
The VW ID. Life sits on the ‘MEB eco’ platform. It’s a lower variant of the MEB, presumably the same variant that Cupra terms ‘MEB short’. Unlike in the standard MEB platform EVs, the electric motor powers the front wheels by default.
The concept version uses a permanent magnet synchronous motor generating 172 kW (234 PS/231 hp) and 290 Nm (214 Lb.-Ft.) of torque. A 57 kWh battery pack provides electricity to this motor. The battery cells have a more sustainable and cost-effective lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry instead of the commonly used lithium nickel manganese cobalt (Li-NCM) chemistry. The LFP chemistry is heavier and doesn’t allow the highest range, but the cost and durability advantages outweigh the downside in entry-level EVs.
Volkswagen estimates a WLTP range of 400 km (249 miles) for the ID. Life. A 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) sprint in the ID.Life concept takes just 6.9 seconds, and the top speed is 180 km/h (112 mph).
LFP Battery Cells
Volkswagen Group’s small EVs like the yet-to-be-named Cupra crossover, Skoda crossover, and the VW ID.2 likely to benefit from unified cell technology. With the same physical pack format used for different chemistries, unified cell technology would lower development and production costs. “In our entry segment, the unified cell will bring down battery cost by 50% compared to today,” said Diess at the company’s Power Day event in March 2021.
Volkswagen Group wants to move battery production in-house to achieve stability in supply and better control over the cost. Porsche Consulting says that the battery is around 40% of the production cost of a vehicle. This makes it the largest cost factor, which no automaker would want to lose control over to an external supplier. Asian suppliers currently dominate the market, but Volkswagen Group plans to become self-sufficient in the future.
“We want to be a leader in cell technology,” Schmall told Porsche Consulting. Schmall is the member of Volkswagen Group’s Board of Management responsible for Technology and also Volkswagen Group Components’ CEO. Volkswagen Group will develop and manufacture cells on its own in the future.
Volkswagen Group would use Lithium Iron Phosphate cells in the batteries of the budget ID. models. “We do have an entry chemistry with Iron Phosphate,” said Frank Blome, Head of Battery Cell and System, Volkswagen Group Components, at the event. He acknowledged the “slight range disadvantage” of LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) compared to NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide). However, LFP is more sustainable because of greater supply security. “The cycle stability is very good,” Blome said. “That means specially for cars with low range, this is a very promising technology,” he added.
We will put battery in the middle of the heart of our development of cars. This is the major cost point in the EV world. If we have the volume, and we will roll it out, we need (to) put it in the middle, in the centre of our cars, and then defining the cars around the battery.Thomas Schmall, Board Member – Technology, Volkswagen Group (Power Day 2021)
Volkswagen Group will also change the way it conceives new models. Instead of developing the battery as per vehicles, it will design cars around the battery. Having a uniform battery format will lead to maximum cost efficiency in production. The company is developing a standard cell that it can use in 80% of its electric vehicles in the future.
In the U.S.
Volkswagen has traditionally ruled out sub-compact models like the T-Roc, T-Cross, Polo, etc., in the U.S., so chances for the ID.2 ideally would’ve looked slim. However, Scott Keogh, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, has hinted that an ID.2 U.S. launch is possible. He doesn’t feel that the ID. Life is too small for the American market. Speaking to CarBuzz, Keogh suggested last year that the EV’s economical pricing is its main highlight. He stopped short of confirming a U.S. launch of the ID. Life concept’s production version, saying that the company would be interested in launching an EV like the ID. Life that comes in an SUV body style.
A car like the (ID. Life) that’s got some SUV proportions is something we’d want to have. I wouldn’t say no. I’d say let’s take a look at it.Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen (USA)
ID. Life concept falls out of favor in Wolfsburg
A report from Automobilwoche filed in February 2022 suggests that Volkswagen has ruled out putting the ID. Life into production. The top bosses in Wolfsburg weren’t in favor of building a retro small electric SUV inspired by the ID. Life concept, it seems. Kaban and his team are creating a new small VW EV with a modern design, and it could be a Polo-sized five-door hatchback with an interior as spacious as that of the Golf.
New concept car to preview the future VW ID.2
Automobilwoche had learned that Jozef Kaban and his team were working on a “new, decidedly modern design” that should captivate young customers with its multimedia and connectivity features. After the German publication released this information, Volkswagen Group confirmed it’s new small electric SUV from the Volkswagen brand that looks quite different from the boxy ID. Life concept.
On May 5, 2022, Volkswagen Group shared on its Twitter account that it will manufacture three small electric SUVs, one from Skoda, one from Cupra, and one from Volkswagen, in Spain from 2025. The company released a teaser of all three models, revealing a soft crossover silhouette for a VW-branded electric small SUV concept. We clearly see the ID.4’s influence on the exterior which should work better in Europe compared to a boxy design inspired by the ID. Life. Moreover, it should have better aerodynamics and thus a higher range.
Will VW present an update on its electric city car project during the Paris Motor Show in October 2022?
The MEB short platform supports a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam rear suspension. According to an earlier report from Autocar, Volkswagen planned to use this traditional suspension setup in its compact crossover.
Volkswagen Board Member for Sales Klaus Zellmer has all but confirmed that the range would include a performance-focused VW ID.2 GTX. Zellmer told Auto Express at the 2021 Munich Motor Show that the company wants to offer every VW ID. EV, including the production version of the ID. Life, in a GTX variant. Given that Volkswagen already sells an R variant of the T-Roc, it may find potential in a similar performance variant of the T-Roc’s EV alternative.
Fewer hardware configurations
The VW ID.2 may come with fewer hardware configurations than its ICE counterpart VW T-Cross. This would allow Volkswagen Group to manufacture it with fewer complexities. It may equip the electric SUV with features that customers can enable later, including connected vehicle tech, particularly useful for ride-sharing.
Zellmer suggested that the company will try reducing hardware variants in a few years. Instead of offering different output levels from the factory, it may allow customers to increase or decrease the motor power during the EV’s life. This would become possible only when the motors, batteries, suspension, and other core components achieve a high level of adaptability and provide enough wiggle room for digitally-made changes.
Production of the ID.2 and other MEB-small platform electric SUVs will take place at the Seat Martorell plant. “A future common vision (of Volkswagen Group, Seat, and Spain government) includes local production of small electric vehicles in the Martorell factory, as well as the local production of battery cells and battery modules,” Seat announced on its 70th anniversary on March 5, 2021. As stated earlier, Volkswagen Group has since confirmed the production of three electric SUVs in Spain from 2025.
Volkswagen Group plans to participate in Spain’s PERTE project and make the country a strategic base for its small EV models. The company could make the Cupra urban EV, the VW ID.2, and other affordable EVs of the platform for the VW Group brands at the Seat Martorell factory. These models would belong to a “Small BEV Family” and are technically similar for competitive pricing. Volkswagen Group wants to make even electric components and battery cells in Spain to keep costs down. At the IAA 2021, it was confirmed that Skoda would have a derivative of the production ID. Life concept.
After Germany (Salzgitter) and Sweden (Skelleftea), Spain is getting the third battery cell gigafactory of the Volkswagen Group. The Spanish battery cell plant (Gigafactory Valencia) will have an annual production capacity of 40-gigawatt hours and employ 3,000 people.
Mass-market VW ID. models
The VW Group is developing small and affordable models such as the ID.2 and a few emotional models that are focused on building the brand.
We are working on electric cars around 20k euros for entry segments.VW Group CEO Dr. Herbert Diess, during a Reddit Q&A in Feb 2022
The group is also considering a VW ID.1 that could be a potential VW e-up! successor. Porsche CEO Oliver Blume, who is also the Volkswagen Group BoM member responsible for Production, has said that an ID.1 “is currently still a product idea” and the company is “intensively” discussing it. That’s according to a new Automobilwoche report, which, citing Hildegard Wortmann, says the e-up! will remain in production till the end of 2025. Wortmann is the BoM member responsible for Sales at both Audi and Volkswagen Group.
VW ID.2 FAQs
What is the VW ID.2 release date?
The VW ID.2 should be launched in Europe in the second half of 2025 and be manufactured in Spain.
What will be the VW ID.2 price?
The ID.2 is expected to be priced at around EUR 25,000.
Featured image: Volkswagen