Volkswagen ID 3 SUV confirmed, new EV models arriving

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As CEO Thomas Schäfer marks 100 days in job, he outlines future strategy and changes he has made so far.

New Volkswagen boss Thomas Schäfer has outlined his vision for the brand after his first 100 days in the job, with a focus on becoming “a love brand again”.

Schäfer has told his team that VW has to be “A friendly brand that people like. The people’s brand that is close to the people. A brand that listens and offers exactly what our customers want – especially in the electric and digital age of mobility.”

Schäfer revealed that Volkswagen will launch 10 new models by 2026, which include an SUV version of its ID.3 all-electric family hatch. “We’re working hard to develop an additional compact SUV based on the ID.3 so that we can also launch a VW product in this fast-growing vehicle segment,” he said.

The new ID.3 SUV will borrow the interior and running gear from the hatchback, but with a taller body that will take its inspiration from the facelifted ID.3 that’s due to go on sale next year.

“We’ve listened very carefully to the ID.3 community, and we’re bringing forward the facelift of our first MEB model to 2023,” said Schäfer. “The new ID.3 is taking a significant and noticeable leap forward in terms of quality, materials and system stability. A car that delivers what the Volkswagen brand promises.”

Although the new ID.3 isn’t expected to look radically different from the current car, with minor tweaks to the lights rather than bodywork changes, the interior is likely to get a heavier makeover. The much-criticised infotainment system is likely to be replaced with new software and a refreshed user interface, while the quality of plastics and other materials used inside is also like to get a significant boost.

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Expect the same battery options under the skin of the new ID.3 SUV as with the hatch; a choice of 45, 58 and 77kWh units will likely be available offering a range of over 480km for the priciest versions. A hot GTX version is also a possibility, with GTX models likely to spread across the entire ID range, including the ID.Buzz.

Schäfer also promised that Volkswagen would have the broadest electric car range on the market and gave further hints about the smallest ID models, likely to be called ID.1 and ID.2.

“Volkswagen will have the broadest e-portfolio in the automotive industry,” he said. “From the entry-level e-car with a target price of under €25,000 (approx. AUD$38,000) to the ID.Buzz and the new flagship ID.Aero – we will have the right offer in every segment.

“By the way: we will bring the small e-car to our customers in two versions – as a small car and as a sporty crossover variant.”

Schäfer also revealed that Volkswagen will be slimming down its model line-up as it moves towards only making electric cars in Europe by 2033 at the latest.

“We want to make the Volkswagen brand shine again!” he told us. “To make sure we succeed, we are shedding old habits. In terms of our product portfolio, this means we’ll be focusing on our core models in the future and noticeably simplifying our model range and packages over the next 10 years.

“In each segment we compete in, we want to live up to our “Leading Volume” motto – do less but get it right! It is clear this focus in the product portfolio also reduces complexity within the company – more speed, faster decisions, greater efficiency. We’re pressing the “extra boost” button!”

Schäfer also promised a clearer focus on the other brands he has overall responsibility for: Skoda, SEAT and Cupra, and VW Commercial Vehicles.

“This is another area where we’re taking a customer-focused approach,” he said. “Clearly positioned and differentiated brands that offer their respective customers the very best, with a lean engine room working behind the scenes on synergies and efficiencies.”

Referencing a family where each member has their own responsibilities around the house, Schäfer revealed how the division of labour would work within his own brands.

“Skoda is handling the development of the new-generation Superb and Passat in the BETA+ project and is responsible, among other things, for the India region and the entry-level MQB A0 platform. SEAT and Cupra is generating momentum in the field of small BEVs. VW Commercial Vehicles is responsible for the autonomous driving competence centre and VW is in charge of the new SSP platform, on which all Group models will be based.”

In his short time in the job, Schäfer says he’s been working on three key priorities: best brand, best team and best results, with a restructure of the board working with him under way.

“You can’t change the world in 100 days, but you can point the way forward for Volkswagen, for the Brand Group and for the teams,” he said.

“Will there be setbacks on our way to becoming a “love brand”? Most certainly: we’re living in challenging times full of unpredictability. Will we get distracted from our goal? Absolutely not. We’re highly motivated, have an incredible amount of expertise in the company and we know what needs to be done.”

Steve Fowler

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