Update: ‘VW ID.8 announcement’ section updated with render and short description.
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, 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.
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. As we already know, electric platforms allow a more cab-forward stance as there are fewer components to be packaged under the hood, and within the chassis as well. There isn’t a need for a transmission tunnel either, and this should lead to a more lounge-like interior.
On March 21, 2022, Volkswagen announced it will launch new electric SUVs in the U.S. from 2026. The same day Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Scott Keogh revealed during a media conference call that the announcement was referring to two SUVs, one sitting on the small version of the SSP and another based on the larger version of the SSP, as per a report from InsideEVs. 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 mentioned 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, 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 suggests that the company will build it on SSP, not MEB which underpins the ID.4. The VW SSP platform is the German group’s ‘super platform’ and will debut in a flagship electric sedan derived from the VW Project Trinity.
Now that we look at what Volkswagen CEO Ralf Brandstätter said at the Volkswagen Annual Media Conference 2022 held on March 16, 2022, it seems the ID.8 SUV could be the second SSP car following the electric sedan:
Start of production for Trinity at our main plant will immediately be followed by the launch of models based on the new highly-scalable platform in North America and China as well.Ralf Brandstätter, CEO, Volkswagen (Volkswagen Annual Media Conference 2022 on March 16, 2022)
The SSP platform will eventually underpin EVs from every VW Group brand. Starting in 2025, SSP modules would begin life on Volkswagen Group EVs. A circa-400 horsepower dual-motor powertrain should suffice the needs of premium SUV customers in the United States. The battery pack options may include a 100+ kWh unit that provides a range of more than 300 miles (EPA).
VW ID.8 production
The U.S. and Canada could get the ID.8 from the Chattanooga plant, which currently makes the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport and will start producing the ID.4 later this year. Volkswagen plans to invest USD 7.1 billion over the next five years in North America to expand its vehicle line-up and boost its R&D and manufacturing capabilities in the region.
Keogh said during the media conference call on March 21, 2022, that the U.S.-spec VW ID. Buzz could see local production if the demand is more than what the Hannover plant can deliver. Given the positioning in the ID. range, the ID.8 looks primarily North America and China-focused, and could be the all-electric successors to the Atlas twins. Local production will be essential to price the SUVs affordably.
Volkswagen Group is considering producing battery cells in North America. It 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.
VW ID.8 price & release date
While battery prices are falling, it is hard to predict the VW ID.8 price. The Atlas’ prices start at USD 33,900, and, it’s impossible to price the ID.8 around this figure in the foreseeable future even with a high localization.
Volkswagen Group expects to price the U.S.-manufactured VW ID.4, a relatively lower-class model, from around USD 35,000 when it comes out towards the end of this year. We reckon the ID.8 will reach U.S. dealers in 2026, at a starting price of around USD 50,000 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, the Automobilwoche report says that the company is likely to extend the life of the first-gen vehicle. Expect the first-gen Atlas to receive updates to stay on the market longer.
Featured Image Source: Volkswagen Group