The ID.3 is the most important car Volkswagen has unveiled in a long time, marking the beginning of its ID electric vehicle offensive and shaping its model line-up for decades to come. This aside, it’s not a particularly evo car in current form, so when can we expect a little more from the brand’s first standalone EV? Our sister title Auto Express caught up with top bosses to discuss.
In top specification, the standard ID.3 produces 201bhp from a single rear-mounted motor, enough to feel brisk whilst you’re popping to the shops, but certainly no match for the performance we’re accustomed to finding in an R product.
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Speaking with our sister title Auto Express at the GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria, Volkswagen R boss Jost Capito said: 'I believe that our Motorsport guys doing their own batteries in-house is a big advantage we have; brands competing in series like Formula E are given a standard battery. But it’s not just about the battery itself – it's how the battery is run and how they get power to the motors.'
Capito went on to explain how battery tech is where performance is extracted in EVs, as opposed to the motors: ‘It's easy to get the power output of an electric motor to the level you want – so it's batteries, battery management and cooling that will be the big differentiators when it comes to high-performance electric road cars.’
In keeping with the Volkswagen R tradition, we’d expect to see the use of a front motor on a hot variant, making it all-wheel drive for improved acceleration. Of course, larger brakes, wheels, lower, stiffer suspension and more aggressive bodywork would also likely make an appearance. Through software tweaks similar to Track mode in the Tesla Model 3 Performance, EV powertrains can also be tuned to better handle spirited driving, allowing more slip, better acceleration and improved throttle response at the touch of a button.
In order to extract as much range as possible, efficiency is high on the agenda for EVs, meaning performance often takes a back burner. Volkswagen e-mobility product marketing specialist, Christine Leuderalbert, spoke about the difficulty of balancing the two attributes: ‘We’re actively considering it, but we need to do some work on how an electric car can also be a performance car. We know electric vehicles have excellent acceleration, but we need to look at how the rest of the package would affect the car’s efficiency.’
Despite the concerns, VW’s member of the board of management for sales and marketing, Jürgen Stackmann, added: ‘If there is a future for R, it must be electric. It’s very simple. We need to define what is R in the electric world; it’s different to what we know of in a Golf or any other car.’ He also said: ‘First will come plug-in hybrid, which is already coming with Touareg. That’s something where we have the answer. For the rest we need to find smart, sustainable answers. The plan is filled with great R models going forward but you have to accept that after this, you just can’t plough on. You’d look at us and ask what we are doing here. We have to find good answers for that and that work is happening now.’
As for when we might see an all-electric R model, Stackmann said: ‘We should be able to deliver something meaningful in under five years. But it’s turf without a lot of expertise for us, at the moment, so we have to start that journey.’