Electric vehicles (EVs) have had the added cost of new technology making them a bit more expensive today. In times, prices will certainly fall as volumes rise and better economies of scale enable manufacturers to offer them at lower prices. European carmakers, in particular, are accelerating towards electrification so being able to offer more attractively priced EVs will help them in achieving their goals of wider electric mobility.
Volkswagen’s ACCELERATE strategy is speeding up that transformation making sustainable mobility accessible to even more people by 2025, a whole two years earlier than originally planned. By 2030, Volkswagen aims to increase the share of all-electric models in total vehicle sales in Europe to at least 70 % and in North America and China, to at least 50%.
New entry-level model
As part of that strategy, the company is developing a new model in the small car segment. The model, called the ID.LIFE, will be part of the ID fully electric family. This vision of a fully electric small car for the urban environment is centred around people and communal experiences. The model is being shown in concept form at the IAA Mobility 2021 event this month.
“The ID. LIFE is our vision of next-generation fully electric urban mobility. The concept car provides a preview of an ID. model in the small car segment that we will be launching in 2025, priced at around 20,000 euros (under RM100,000). This means we are making electric mobility accessible to even more people,” said Ralf Brandstatter, CEO of the Volkswagen brand. “In creating the ID. LIFE, we have consistently focused on the needs of younger customers. We believe that, even more so than today, the car of the future will be about lifestyle and personal expression. The customer of tomorrow won’t simply want to get from A to B; they will be much more interested in the experiences that a car can offer. The ID. LIFE is our answer to this.”
The design of the ID. LIFE is strikingly clear, simplified and of high quality even though it will be at the entry level. Decorative elements and add-on parts are dispensed with, as is any complex mix of materials. The horizontal division between the body, glass surfaces and roof also contributes to the car’s purist appearance. An individualised and removable roof made of air chamber textile lends an open-air feeling in the ID. LIFE, while also reducing the vehicle weight.
The ID. LIFE is based on a smaller variant of Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix (MEB) that has been developed specifically for the small car segment. This is the first time a vehicle based on the MEB has front-wheel drive. A single electric motor provides power to the front wheels.
With its 172 kW (equivalent to 234 ps) electric motor, the ID. LIFE is claimed to be able to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, while its 57 kWh high-voltage battery will give a range of some 400 kms.
“The ID. LIFE proves once again how uniquely flexible the MEB is. The platform is suitable for vehicles of all types, from small cars to vans,” said Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen Brand Board of Management for Development. “It’s the most scalable electrical architecture in the industry. We’re just beginning to tap into the potential of MEB. Performance, charging capacity and range will continue to improve with each new model and software update.”
Natural and recycled materials
The sustainable character of the ID. LIFE is reflected particularly in the choice of materials and paint finishes. In the clear coat for the bodywork, wood chips are used as a natural colouring agent along with a bio-based hardener. The air chamber textile for the roof and front cover is made from 100% recycled PET bottles.
Within the cabin, wood in the dashboard and rear seat surrounds is combined with ArtVelours Eco for the seat surfaces and door trims. Bio-oil, natural rubber and rice husks are just some of the materials that serve as a basis for the tyres on the ID. LIFE.
The ID. LIFE is proposed as a ‘reliable companion’ for digital experiences of various kinds. For example, it can easily be converted into a cinema or gaming lounge. The car has a videogame console and projector, as well as a projection screen that extends from the dash panel when required. Other devices can be connected as needed to the 230V/16A power supply.
The seating design is also extremely flexible, in keeping with the idea of the car as a ‘companion’ for all situations and lifestyles. For instance, the front seat bench can be completely folded down, as can the rear seat bench. This enables a range of different possibilities, from cinema seating to a bed measuring around 2 metres in length, to a cargo version that maximises luggage volume.
Cameras and a display replace both the exterior and interior mirrors. Essential driving functions are controlled via a touch panel on the hexagonal, open-topped steering wheel, and a smartphone can be integrated in the operating system. Personal devices – whether smartphones or tablets – can be used to operate the navigation system. Music, films and games stored on the device can be used seamlessly, with visuals displayed on the projection screen.
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