Update: ‘VW ID.8 announcement,’ ‘VW ID.8 specifications,’ and ‘VW ID.8 production’ sections updated.
Volkswagen Group is likely to launch a VW ID. model as a replacement or alternative to every core VW brand model this decade. It began with the VW ID.3, a VW Golf alternative, in 2019, and in the coming years, we will see a VW ID.8 either replace the Atlas or sell alongside it.
VW ID.8 announcement
On July 13, 2021, Volkswagen Group announced the New Auto strategy for its roadmap through 2030. In his speech at the event, Dr. Herbert Diess, former CEO, Volkswagen Group, confirmed a VW ID.8 model and revealed that this EV will belong to the class of the VW Atlas. Below is what he said:
All relevant global segments are already covered by specific EV offerings:
Volkswagen Group made the VW ID.8 announcement precisely eight months after revealing plans to manufacture three electric European mid-size SUVs (D-SUVs) at the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Hannover plant in Germany. However, those models will be premium, luxury SUVs.
At the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021), Scott Keogh, who was then the President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said that the ID.6 wasn’t large enough for the U.S. market, as reported by Automotive News on January 3, 2022. He mentioned that Volkswagen plans to introduce an electric vehicle in the same segment as the Atlas in the U.S., but it would be a different model from the ID.6.
We know the (large crossover) segment quite well from the Atlas, and I can promise you, we will put (an EV) in that segment, that’s for sure, so we have plans. The ID.6 isn’t quite sized there.Scott Keogh, former President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America (2021 Munich Motor Show)
On February 21, 2022, a report from Automobilwoche said that the VW ID.8 is “little more than a placeholder” for the pure-electric replacements planned for the Touareg and Atlas.
Expect the VW ID.8 to be shorter and more aerodynamic than the Atlas. Electric vehicle platforms, known for their efficiency in space utilization, enable a more cab-forward design due to fewer components needing to be housed under the hood and within the chassis. Additionally, the absence of a transmission tunnel should contribute to creating a more spacious, lounge-like interior on the ID.8.
On March 21, 2022, Volkswagen announced it will launch new electric SUVs in the U.S. from 2026. The same day Keogh revealed during a media conference call that the announcement was referring to two SUVs, one sitting on the small version of the Scalable Systems platform (SSP) and another based on the larger version of that platform, as per a report from InsideEVs.com. Keogh said these SUVs will be of the Atlas/Atlas Cross Sport segment, and his comment seems to indicate that one is the VW ID.8 model that Dr. Diess brought up in July 2021.
The new SUVs (to be launched in America from 2026) will be larger than the ID.4, something like the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport.Scott Keogh, former President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America (Media conference call on March 21, 2022)
VW ID.8 specifications
The announcement Volkswagen made on March 21, 2022, and based on what Keogh said during the media conference call suggested that the company will build it on SSP, not MEB which underpins the ID.4. The VW SSP platform will be the German group’s ‘super platform’ and was supposed to debut in a flagship electric sedan derived from the VW Project Trinity.
Initially, Volkswagen planned to put the first SSP-based electric car in 2026. Later, changed that timeline to the end of 2026. Moreover, reports also suggest that the first SSP-based EV might not even be a sedan as originally announced.
In the medium term, Volkswagen plans to replace the MEB with an upgraded version called ‘MEB+.’ The company has confirmed that the MEB+ platform will lead to cars with longer ranges and shorter charging times. These models will pack up to 290 kW (389 hp) and take just about 20 minutes for a 10-80% DC fast-charging session. The ID.8 may also sit on the MEB+ platform, not the SSP.
VW ID.8 production
The U.S. and Canada could get the ID.8 from the Chattanooga plant, which currently makes the Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, and the all-electric ID.4. Volkswagen plans to invest USD 7.1 billion in North America by 2027 to expand its vehicle line-up and boost its R&D and manufacturing capabilities in the region.
Given the positioning in the ID. range, the ID.8 looks primarily North America and China-focused. Local production will be essential to price the SUVs affordably.
Volkswagen Group’s PowerCo SE will manufacture battery cells in St. Thomas (Ontario), Canada. The German conglomerate has said that production of electric motors and other EV components could take place in Mexico in the future. Volkswagen (the brand) has said that it will upgrade its factories in Puebla and Silao for the assembly of EVs and their components, by the middle of the decade. This major investment and the effort put into it would be for nothing if VW imported the ID.8 from outside North America.
Price & Release date
While battery prices are falling, it is hard to predict the VW ID.8 price. The Atlas starts at USD 37,725, and, it’s impossible to price the ID.8 around this figure in the foreseeable future even with a high localization. We reckon the ID.8 will reach U.S. dealers in 2026, at a starting price of around USD 55,000 before subsidies.
In usual circumstances, the next-gen Atlas would arrive within a couple of years, as the SUV is nearing the end of the usual lifecycle. However, Volkswagen recently gave the first-gen model a facelift, so we expect it to keep it on sale longer than usual. The Automobilwoche report had said that the company is likely to extend the life of the first-gen vehicle.
Featured Image Source: Volkswagen Group