ID Life: VW to deliver promise of an EV at half price of Tesla, but not until 2025


Volkswagen is planning to fulfil its promise of an electric car at half the price of Tesla EVs, revealing an entry-level compact electric car at the Munich motor show on Monday (Europe time) called the ID Life.

With a price of 20,000 euros (about $A32,000), the ID Life does indeed come in at half that of the Tesla’s Model 3 in Europe, which starts at 39,990 euros (just under $A64,000 at today’s rates).

Brandstätter in an official announcement. But the car won’t arrive until 2025, Volkswagen says.

An EV at half the price of Tesla was a bold and ambitious claim made by Volkswagen chair Herbert Diess in 2018, who at the time told German media that: “We will come in 2020 with vehicles that can do anything like Tesla and are cheaper by half.”

This has evidently proved more challenging than first thought. Being able to do “anything like Tesla” involves software, something with which legacy combustion engine behemoths have struggled, and the first deliveries of the ID.3 – the German carmaker’s first EV on a dedicated platform – was delayed by software bugs.

Now driven by the requirement that manufacturers selling cars in Europe must reduce their overall fleet emissions to 95gm/CO2 per kilometre to avoid fines, the ID Life could be a potentially promising addition to the auto market.

“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,” Brandstatter says.

“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 multifunction interior will come with additions like a video game console (whether this will be the favourite gaming brand of the day is yet to be seen, or a VW-specific one) and a projector that can be set up for watching movies.

To ensure democratic viewing arrangements, both front and rear bench seats can be folded down to form a two-metre bed, or simply to maximise luggage space.

A 230-volt plug is on hand in the passenger compartment from which devices – laptops, tablets, and more – can be charged.

Volkswagen also points to the ID Life’s sustainability credentials.

A clear coat on the body made from wood chips and a “bio-based” hardener, recycled PET roof lining, wood dashboard and rear seat surrounds are just some of the materials VW says it will use in the ID Life. It also says its tyres use bio-oils, natural rubber and rice husks, although it doesn’t reveal which tyre manufacturer makes these.

Driving specifications include a 172kW motor on the front axle, acceleration from 0-100km/hr in 6.9 seconds and a 57kWh battery for 400km WLTP range.

Of course, to achieve the promised low price expect VW to deliver a pared-down design, but this is not a new development in EVs having been the basis for Tesla’s minimal Model 3 interior.

The real question is, by 2025 will it still be a half-price EV compared to Tesla?

As Giles Parkinson notes here, Morgan Stanley is already predicting Tesla cars will drop below $US20,000 by the end of the decade.

And with an electric hatch apparently now expected to be released by Tesla in 2023 starting at $US25,000 (about 21,000 euros), it could be that when VW launches the ID Life there will be a lot of competition in this pricing space.

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