At the Paris Motor Show, Volkswagen staged the world premiere of the I.D., a concept vehicle presaging the first of a new fleet of Volkswagen electric cars and highlighting Volkswagen’s vision for the future in a number of areas, including autonomous driving and a new Open Space concept for the interior.
The compact I.D. is driven by a 125 kW electric motor powered by a battery pack, and has a range of 400 - 600 km (249 - 373 miles) under European test conditions. I.D. will be the first Volkswagen built off the Modular Electric Drive kit (MEB). The production version of the I.D. is due to be launched in 2020 at a price on a par with comparably powerful and well-equipped Golf models. The I.D. concept car at the show further demonstrates a concept of autonomous driving for the year 2025.
Volkswagen set a goal of selling a million electric cars a year by 2025; the production version of the I.D. is being designed with the intention of it being a high-volume model, and is expected to make a decisive contribution towards this ramp-up of e-mobility.
The I.D. is Volkswagen’s first compact concept car based on the new MEB vehicle architecture. MEB—Modularer Elektrifizierungsbaukasten (“Modular Electric Drive kit”)—was conceived to support the development of a family of pure electric vehicles within brands and across the Group. Because of the increasing criticality of connectivity and digitization, the MEB is going further than the other Baukasten (e.g., MQB, MLB, etc.) in including in its scope the underlying advanced hardware and software required in those domains.
The ground-breaking MEB thus corresponds with the key mobility requirements of the future. Volkswagen thus considers the newly defined vehicle architecture to be a milestone in car development by Volkswagen AG, while at the same time providing the basis for the development of many more all-electric cars. The concept behind the I.D. guarantees the best possible ride comfort, optimum use of space, maximum safety and ground-breaking sustainability, thus redefining the parameters of “drive”, “space” and “comfort”. This is underlined by:
The long wheelbase with very short overhangs.
The front end structure that, in addition to the giving the highest level of safety, allows the front wheels to turn sharply and give a small turning circle of 32.5 feet.
The flat lithium-ion battery that is integrated in the floor lowers the center of gravity and results in an ideal axle load/weight distribution.
The multi-link rear axle with an integrated drive unit and decoupled subframe gives optimum driving dynamics and ideal acoustics.
The I.D.’s zero-emissions drive system consists primarily of the electric motor, power electronics and transmission integrated in the rear axle, a space-saving high-voltage flat battery in the floor of the car and ancillary equipment integrated in the front of the car.
The rear-axle-mounted electric motor has a power output of 168 horsepower (125 kW), giving the I.D. zero to 62 mph acceleration in less than 8 seconds and a top speed of 99mph. Subsequent production versions could also be offered with more or less powerful electric motors.
The I.D., as a compact car with cost targets to maintain, will likely just offer the single motor, observed Christian Buhlmann, Volkswagen AG Head of PR Product International and National. However, as the MEB can support larger vehicles within its architecture, a future MEB-based SUV might offer two motors (one front, one back), as an example, Buhlmann noted.
In parallel, the concept also hints that it will be possible to configure the I.D. with different battery capacities. This would allow the drive system to be modified to suit the owner’s individual needs.
The high-voltage battery used in the I.D. is located in the chassis. Power electronics control the flow of high-voltage power between the motor and the battery, converting the direct current (DC) stored in the battery into alternating current (AC), while a DC/DC converter supplies the on-board electronics with 12-volt power. Power is transferred from the motor to the rear axle via a single-gear transmission.
The motor, power electronics and transmission form one compact unit. The position of the battery has a positive effect as it gives the I.D. a very low center of gravity, like a racing car’s, and neutral handling. The I.D. is also characterized by an optimal weight distribution of 48:52 percent, front to rear.
The battery can be charged by cable or using an inductive charging interface in the front of the car. To charge by cable, a separate charging plug is needed to connect the car to an electrical outlet. For inductive charging, all the driver needs to do is park the I.D. over a charging plate, with a little help from the electronics to make sure it is in exactly the right position. Over and above that it will be possible to send the car to an inductive charging station, too. Thanks to the rapid charging system the battery is 80% charged after just 30 minutes.
Open Space. Volkswagen has made electric mobility and fully automated driving conspicuous with its innovative exterior design language and with the interior, too: the conventional driving environment has been transformed into the interactive center of a mobile lounge, or a supremely versatile Open Space.
The design, with its organically shaped surfaces and gentle radii, emphasizes the impression of space. Another defining design trait is that the interior is enclosed by a Möbius strip, a geometric shape that owes its name to the German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Möbius, who first described this twisted shape—where the inner surface becomes the outer surface and vice versa—in the middle of the 19th century.
The simplicity of the interior, where switches and control stalks have been replaced by new digital solutions, results in a new, intuitive, operating environment.
There are four separate integral seats, with the headrests and seatbelts harmonically integrated into the backrest. The seats in the back can be folded up like cinema seats to save space, making room for large items such as folding bicycles or picture frames. The “dive down” function also allows the rear seats to be lowered to floor level, turning the trunk and rear seat area into a single large, flat cargo area.
Depending on the seating configuration, the I.D. has up to 33.9 cubic feet of luggage space. Between the left and right seats there is a utility box in the front and a folding center armrest in the back, both of which slide fore-and-aft and can be removed. A box for shopping can also be fitted in the front-seat passenger area.
The Open Space is flooded with daylight through large windows and a panoramic sunroof. If the sunshine is too bright, the transparent roof can also be darkened electronically.
The MEB architecture and the digitalization of the display and control elements permit an entirely new interior layout for driver and passengers. The driver’s space blends in with the rest of the interior; the mobile space in the I.D. has been transformed into a multi-variable lounge, yet every driver will get to grips with it straight away as the I.D. is controlled with self-explanatory touch displays in the doors, capacitive keypads, and voice and gesture control.
The center of this car consists of an electrically adjustable and retractable multifunction steering wheel, a new Active Info Display, an electronic interior mirror (e-Mirror), an Augmented Reality (AR) Head-up Display and newly designed door panels. A central infotainment system in the middle of the dashboard is a thing of the past, as those menus are also available to everyone in the car, thanks to the four individual door panels.
The I.D. has a new evolution of the head-up display. Information such as the directions given by the satellite navigation system are, for the first time, projected as virtual images that appear to be between 23 and 49 feet ahead of the car. The effect is realistic: arrows are projected via augmented reality to show where the driver and the I.D. are heading. Thanks to the AR-Head-Up Display, the navigation instructions are part of driver’s three-dimensional surroundings.
A 10-inch Active Info Display shows information to the driver and can also be used to view content like the media library and menus such as the satellite navigation, or to control the multifunction steering wheel. The Active Info Display gives the driver great freedom. For instance, the full 10 inches of the screen can be turned into a 3D navigation screen. The display uses three transparent layers to display the various types of information. At the bottom, on the first layer there is the navigation map; the digital content retrieved using the Volkswagen ID is displayed on the second layer; and the third layer, at the top, is used to display driving data such as the car’s speed and range.
Conventional rear-view mirrors are a thing of the past in the I.D. But habit is difficult to change, so in place of the rear-view mirrors there is now a system that looks exactly the same and performs the same function. The e-Mirror combines data from three external cameras on a monitor. The images are transmitted from the door mirror cameras on the left and right-hand sides of the car as well as a rearward facing camera. Doing away with the mirrors improves the aerodynamics of the vehicle. The only button in the I.D., for the hazard warning lights, is to be found in the base of the mirror.
Information and controls that have previously only been available to the driver and the front-seat passenger are now available to the rear-seat passengers too, thanks to the new door panels. These white and partially transparent control islands are ergonomically mounted in the trim of the four doors, where they appear to be suspended in mid-air. It is evident from the shape of the panels that they also act as the interior door handles and house loudspeakers.
The door panels can be used to control the air conditioning, the infotainment and navigation, the interior lighting, the electric windows and the central locking. The door panel can even be used to receive phone calls. These functions are all controlled on a white touchscreen with black icons as well as a capacitive slider on the side, which is used to regulate the temperature and the HVAC fan speed. The information displayed on the door panel changes as soon as the door is opened or the driver switches to the fully automated “I.D. Pilot” mode. The driver can also restrict the range of functions of the other door panels so that children can’t open the doors while moving, for instance.
As soon as there is someone in the driver’s seat the steering wheel, which is retracted into the dashboard in parking mode, comes out and the multifunction displays light up simultaneously. At the same time, the I.D. triggers the Active Info Display and the AR Head-up Display. Ambient lighting and the Active Info Display greet the driver with a welcome routine. Close the doors, belt up, press the brake, select a driving mode and the I.D. is good to go.
The Start/Stop button is also a thing of the past. “D” and “R“ are activated by gently pressing the corresponding button on the multifunction steering wheel, and the I.D. is switched off by pressing the “P” on the steering wheel, which causes the steering wheel to retract flush with the dashboard again.
The middle of the steering wheel has its usual Volkswagen logo, except that in this case it is an illuminated button with which the driver can switch from manual to fully automated (“I.D. Pilot”) mode. By pressing the Volkswagen logo for three seconds the electrically adjustable steering wheel retracts and interlocks with the dashboard.
When the steering wheel reverts from fully automated to manual mode, an illuminated display appears in the rim of the steering wheel for a few seconds to indicate that it is changing mode.
Autonomous driving: I.D. Pilot. During the transformation from manual to fully automated mode the light in the Volkswagen logo on the steering wheel pulsates. The light distribution of the ambient lighting expands to illuminate the back, and the I.D. signals via the Active Info Display and the AR-Head-up display that it is ready to take control. As soon as the driver takes their hands and feet away from the controls the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and the fully automated “I.D. Pilot” mode is active.
In fully automated driving mode, four roof-mounted laser scanners are active. They protrude from the roof of the I.D. in “I.D. Pilot” mode, but are also visible thanks to indirect blue lighting, like the diffusers and side sills, indicating that the I.D. is in fully automated mode.
The I.D. is capable of detecting other road users not only using its laser sensors, but also with ultrasonic sensors, radar sensors, side area view cameras and a front camera. Traffic data is also constantly collected and compared with the vehicle data via the cloud.
Fully automated mode is deactivated by pressing the brake or accelerator pedals. The I.D. indicates that the driver has to take control again by changing the color and distribution of the ambient lighting, pulsing the light in the Volkswagen steering wheel logo on the steering wheel, and posting alerts on the Active Info Display and the AR-Head-up Display. The steering wheel then comes out of the dashboard again, reactivating manual driving mode. Visual clues include the illumination of the accelerator and brake pedals and a light pattern in the steering wheel.
The color scheme and mood of the ambient lighting change along with the manual and fully automated mode. The door panels, the areas under the seats, the seat surfaces and the lower section of the instrument panel are indirectly lit. The ambient lighting also floods into the cabin through a kind of woven mesh that extends between the A-pillars parallel to the windscreen and around the instrument panel.
If a pedestrian appears beside or in front of the I.D., for example, a warning for the driver is projected on the illuminated mesh.
The I.D. doesn’t only drive itself or be driven. It can also find a space in a parking structure, all of its own. All the driver has to do is stop the I.D. in a specially marked zone in the entrance to a structure that has the necessary infrastructure and activate the “Pilot for multi-storey car park” using the Volkswagen app. As with the fully automated “I.D. Pilot” mode it is able to detect other cars as well as pedestrians. To ask the I.D. to leave the parking space again, all the driver has to do is tell the Volkswagen to return to its starting zone again via the app.
Connected Community – the new Volkswagen ID. Anyone who drives a Volkswagen in the future will be given their own Volkswagen ID. The ID is an individual profile, in which the personal seat and air conditioning settings, favorite radio stations and songs, the sound system settings, the configuration of the navigation system, and the type of ambient lighting, as well as the contact details of the driver’s friends and business associates, are saved.
This profile can be securely accessed via the cloud, enabling the I.D. to recognize the legitimate user by their smartphone—the Digital Key—and know who is about to get behind the wheel.
With the I.D. you’ll be at home on the road because, with Volkswagen Home-Net, it will be possible to interconnect your car and home. For example: using cameras in your house you will be able to check whether everything is OK at home from the car. If a family member has forgotten their key, all you need do is call and look into the camera, and I.D. sends the picture to the Active Info Display, so that the driver can open the front door using an app.
It could even become perfectly normal to receive parcels on the road, since the new Delivery Service in the trunk of your car can act as a mailbox. Studies show that millions of parcels sent in Europe could alternatively be delivered to the trunk of a Volkswagen parked anywhere between Helsinki and Lisbon. If the car owners aren’t at home, I.D. would be able to receive parcels simply and efficiently, or allow them to be collected. The parcel delivery agent is able to locate the car by GPS and is granted temporary permission to open the trunk via an app. The car’s owner is then notified via an app or e-mail as soon as the parcel has been delivered and the trunk is locked again. Volkswagen is currently working with international logistics service providers to implement this concept.
Design. The I.D. adheres to a new design language for compact Volkswagen electric cars. Ample space, maximum precision, a charismatic front end, iconic C-pillars, flowing, sculpted surfaces and expressive wheels are just a few of the design signatures for Volkswagen electro-mobility.
An electric car doesn’t need large cooling intakes, which changes everything when it comes to front-end design. Interactive LED lights are framed by a C-shaped light signature, and react to other road users. The large, sculpted bumpers and “Anodized Blue” diffusers also give the I.D. a unique appearance. The transparent illuminated Volkswagen logo in the front section emphasizes the I.D.’s quality.
The new design DNA corresponds with innovative technical solutions, such as a lack of B pillars. The front and rear doors form a protective unit when closed. The rear doors swivel backwards, showcasing the Open Space. Door mirrors have been replaced by cameras, which are integrated in the front fenders. The powerful silhouette is rounded off by white and blue 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with blue low-rolling resistance tires.
The trunklid, which extends across the full width of the car, is contrasted in black. At the sides, the large rear window is framed by vertical aerodynamic fences and at the base by the strikingly narrow horizontal LED taillights. The I.D.’s bumper is a prime example of the avant-garde design of Volkswagen’s future electric cars, which looks as if it were made out of a single piece of aluminum or a translucent block of ice. Right at the bottom of the car’s rear section is a tidy blue diffuser, mirrored by the narrow strip of LED taillights that wrap around to the flanks and the illuminated Volkswagen logo between them.
The I.D. communicates with its environment using light. The LED headlights interactively mimic the human eye (interactive spotlight), with the headlights reacting to their environment: for example, they look in the direction of the driver as he approaches the I.D.
Parked. If all of the I.D.’s systems are shut down it looks from the front as if its “eyes” are closed. On a parked I.D., all you can see is a narrow little strip of LEDs in the headlights.
Startup. When the I.D. is “woken up”, it greets its driver and the passengers with an all-new 360-degree light show: the transparent Volkswagen logos at the front and in the trunklid light up in white. This is then followed by blue lighting in the front bumper diffuser, the side sills and the rear diffuser. In the final stage of this light show, the I.D. opens its “eyes” and, last but not least, white light shines in the four door handles.
As soon as you approach the car, the white light in the surface of the door handles illuminates. If the person’s hand comes up close to the handle, the line of light pulsates and the handle extends from the body and the door can be opened.
Charging. While the batteries are charging, the blue light panels on the diffusers and side sills pulsate or “breathe”, while the headlights remain in sleep mode.
On the road. In conventional drive mode the Volkswagen logos, the LED Daytime Running Lights and the LED headlights are on. As the car accelerates, the “eyes” adjust to the higher speed by adopting a more dynamic light signature.
Autonomous Driving. To signal that it is in fully automated mode (from 2025), the laser scanners on the roof (which are now extended), the front and rear diffusers, and the side sills are also lit in blue. As the car speeds up, the LED “eyes” look ahead, giving the car a sporty appearance.
Communicating with surroundings. Over and above this, the “eyes” are interactive in fully automated mode. If, for instance, the I.D. wants to turn left or right, the LED headlights look in the direction that the car is going to turn. What is more, if the I.D. notices people at the side of the road it looks at them. This very human form of interaction draws the attention of pedestrians and cyclists to the I.D.
Shut down. This starts with the DRLs being deactivated and the door handle illumination being activated; then the blue lighting of the diffusers and side sills and the white light in the door handles go out. Finally, only the Volkswagen logos are illuminated. They stay on until the driver and passengers walk away from the car. Now the I.D. is in standby mode.
The I.D. and Think New. The I.D. is a standard bearer for the progressive Volkswagen brand strategy called “Think New”. This strategy is based on four central areas of innovation, which are also reflected in the new Volkswagen design approach for electric vehicles:
Smart Sustainability: Volkswagen is advancing the development of innovative high-volume electric cars
Automated Driving: Volkswagen is going to make cars even safer and more comfortable thanks to automated driving
Intuitive Usability: Volkswagen has put its focus on vehicles that are intuitive to operate and feature new display and control concepts
Connected Community: Volkswagen will interconnect humans, cars and the environment with a Volkswagen user identity in future
The I.D. represents the near- to medium-term future. But the latest generation of the e-Golf (to be showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show), with a zero-emissions range of up to 186 miles (on the European cycle) and new gesture control, will be on the road soon. The world of “today” is also visible in state-of-the-art Volkswagens like the new Tiguan, which launched interior digitalization with its Active Info Display and head-up display. The Tiguan, the e-Golf and the I.D. concept car together point the way from the present to the future.