New Volkswagen Polo-sized EV to head-up entry level ID. family

Expanded pure-electric Volkswagen ID. range to give brand a rival for the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa EV

Volkswagen is working on plans to expand its forthcoming ID. family of electric vehicles to include models as small as the existing Polo supermini.

The firm revealed its intentions at the VW Group’s annual conference, where a slide showing a product line-up included an ‘MEB entry family’ alongside the likes of the ID. hatchback and ID. Crozz SUV. That’s a reference to the MEB pure-electric platform that will underpin the ID. models.

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Previously, VW sources had suggested that MEB would not go any smaller than around 4.4 metres in length – or about the same as a Golf. But speaking exclusively to Auto Express, VW Group chairman Dr Herbert Diess acknowledged that the ‘entry family’ would be more compact as well as cheaper. “It’s a smaller size,” he said. “It’s sub-Golf size. It’s being worked on now. We should expect it around 2023.”

In effect, the admission confirms at least tentative plans for the sub-£20k baby electric SUV outlined by Auto Express earlier this year. But the T-Cross-sized model could also be joined by an all-electric supermini, previewed by our exclusive images. This would give VW a rival for the new Peugeot e-208 and its sister car, the forthcoming pure-electric Vauxhall Corsa.

The VW Group’s board member for technical development, Dr Frank Welsch, explained that developments in battery tech may provide the cost breakthrough VW requires to make the project viable. But he also said that the idea was still in early discussions, and supported Diess’s belief that any model would be unlikely to arrive much before 2023.

“Every two or three years, we see improvements in battery technology and electrochemistry,” Welsch said. “If we speak about MEB entry, I don’t think it would happen before 2023, and there will be at least some improvements by then.

“It could also be that we go for a different concept, in terms of which chemistry we use. There is lithium-ion like the ID., but also – maybe not in Europe, but in China – we see LFP [lithium-ion phosphate] battery tech.”

He continued: “There are different components in there – no nickel, no cobalt and so on, which make it cheaper – but today, the specific energy density of that technology is not competitive.

“But if you go for a smaller concept, where they don’t need a range of 500km, or where they could never afford a battery capacity of 80kWh, for example, it could be a possibility – especially when you keep in mind it should improve over the next three years.”

He added: “But I want to stress, MEB entry is just a discussion. We are at the concept level, looking at feasibility. So we are happy with the tech we have for the first wave of ID., and now we’re looking again at how we could bring the costs down.

“It’s no use going down from Golf size to Polo size, and then saying: ‘We’ve saved 50 euros on the bare chassis.’ We have to look across everything. Could we offer it with a smaller motor? It’s a smaller car, and you can get a Polo with lower-powered engines than you can get in a Golf.”

Welsch also admitted, however, that while smaller-range models would be offered to bring down the starting price of MEB entry cars, there’s no reason why bigger-battery editions couldn’t be offered. “Because it’s part of MEB, we can still have larger capacities [of battery],” he said. “We wouldn’t need to stop at 40kWh, for example; if I have the space between the axles, I can use it. So even with a smaller wheelbase I could imagine going for, say, 60kWh, because we know from the Polo that some customers of that size of vehicle do want to go for longer journeys as well.”

Would you buy an all-electric Volkswagen for less than £20k? Let us know your thoughts below…

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