Volkswagen's group night at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show was more about their new logo unveil and the announcement of the ID.3. The logo reveal or change may not have much relevance to us or maybe it will at some point. The juicy bit is about the ID.3. You see, the ID.3 is an all-electric hatchback that comes in three different battery configurations. Here are our two cents on why this electric Volkswagen could just be perfect for the Indian market.
It has always got to do with the length, isn't it? Well, before you get any dirty thoughts, we are talking about the sub-4m and above categories that our current vehicles are put into. Unfortunately for Volkswagen, the ID.3 measures 4,261mm in length is 1,809mm wide and 1,552mm tall. This means it is nearly the same size as the Hyundai Kona EV. Volkswagen India engineers can try and reduce the length below four metres to avail tax benefits. We've seen other carmakers do that in the past though something of this sort hasn't been done with an EV here.
Range anxiety is something which is the first concern for anyone who buys an electric vehicle. As discussed earlier, there are three battery configurations that one can buy the ID.3 in. Even in the lowest 45kWh configuration, the ID.3 will go 330km on a full charge. That's a lot for what is being billed as a city vehicle. Even if its claimed, the actual range will be slightly more than 200km. This means a typical driver commuting to work and back in India, will need to only charge the car once in two days. Moreover, the charge time is the typical 5-6 hours. A user can then leave it overnight using an 11kWh charger, as is the norm. If you're in an office and need a quick charge, the 125kWh option will juice up the battery to 80 per cent in less than 35 minutes.
The government, as well as Volkswagen, need to work hand-in-hand to ensure large scale adoption of the ID.3. Many charging stations will have to be set up at prominent locations. These charging stations should have the fast charging option, albeit for a nominal fee initially. Transparency is the key as Volkswagen now will need to ensure it tells its customers the real-time range, battery support and all this stuff. Speaking of battery warranty, Volkswagen says that even after lakh kilometres and eight years, the battery can still retain 70 per cent of the charge. In comparison, an iPhone battery gives up in less than two years time and will barely retain the same amount of charge as the ID.3's unit. I know these two can't be compared but am sure you get the drift.
The Volkswagen ID.3 has got practicality rolled in spades. Take for instance the flat floor as well as wheels pushed to the edges of the vehicle's body. The Volkswagen Connect app ensures that the ID.3 is always connected to the internet. There is also the fact that the touchscreen system given in the car is also Apple as well as Android-compatible. The all-LED headlights, as well as taillights, ensure that energy efficiency is maximum. Moreover, the Matrix lights that the car comes fitted with ensures that if required, one can drive around with a high beam and not worry about dazzling other oncoming drivers.
There is also enough space in the cabin for five. There is also space for their luggage - 395 litres. The large glass windows mean that the visibility is also going to be top-notch. Speaking of which, the quality of materials used also looks high grade, as can be expected from Volkswagen. For the Indian market, Volkswagen can do away with some of the high-tech driving aids that the car comes with. This will further reduce its price. Volkswagen can take a leaf or two from Hyundai's pages on how to effectively price an EV and still boast decent sales. The Kona EV, we hear, has got more than 100 bookings so far.
Here is where the government can step in and offer benefits to EV buyers. Lots of tax benefits, perhaps. As it is, the recent budget announced had many grants to EVs. The prevalent FAME II scheme though benefits only the commercial buyers. Setting up more charging stations as well as reducing the rate of the electricity consumed will encourage more buyers. Scrapping off old vehicles with reduced rates on the new EV purchased is also going to boost sales.
Unfortunately, due to the complexities involved in making the ID.3 here as well as the uncertainty of the charging infrastructure, the car will not be coming to India anytime soon. Moreover, the 2.0 plans that VW, lead by Skoda, has doesn't feature the MEB platform on which the ID.3 is based. It instead focuses on the MQB A0. We though wish and fervently pray that Volkswagen brings it here, perhaps in a different form or as a low-cost model for developing markets like ours.