VW beats Tesla to the punch and unveils an affordable electric vehicle

Volkswagen unveiled its affordable, mass-market electric vehicle in the form of a concept called the ID. 2all. With a starting price of 25,000 euros ($26,600) and an estimated range of 450 kilometers (279 miles), the Golf-looking electric hatchback is intended to be that most elusive thing: a plug-in vehicle for the people.

VW revealed the ID. 2all during an investor event in Germany — calling to mind Tesla’s own investor day event, in which Elon Musk was expected to show off his own affordable EV but didn’t. Tesla’s share price dropped after the event as investors griped about the absence of the promised EV. And less than two weeks later, VW has responded with its own spin on what an EV for the mass might look like.

The Golf-looking electric hatchback is intended to be that most elusive thing: a plug-in vehicle for the people

During the presentation, VW outlined a strategy that includes an investment of 180 billion euros ($193 billion) over five years in areas including battery production and raw materials, as it seeks to slash the cost of EV production and overtake Tesla and others by increasing its market share.

But the ID. 2all was the centerpiece of the event, a compact EV with an attractive price and a lot of potential. Though just a concept, VW said it expects to put the vehicle into production starting in 2025. It will be one of 10 plug-in models set to debut by 2026.

The production version of the ID. 2all will be built atop the second-generation version of VW’s modular “MEB” electric vehicle platform. The current version of MEB powers the automaker’s ID.4 crossover SUV, as well as a dozen other vehicles from Audi, Skoda, and others from brands owned by VW Group. The long wheelbase and short overhangs of the ID. 2all are also found on the ID. Buzz, the automaker’s electric minibus that is expected to go on sale in the US in 2024.

The affordable EV will also be VW’s first plug-in vehicle with front-wheel drive; all others to date have been single-motor rear-wheel drive or dual-motor all-wheel drive. The powertrain will also enable quicker charging, with VW predicting a 10 to 80 percent charging speed of approximately 20 minutes. The ID. 2all will be light on storage space, with 460-1,330 liters of volume, depending on the seat configurations.

Though just a concept, VW said it expects to put the vehicle into production starting in 2025

As a hatchback, the ID. 2all will be fighting an uphill battle, both in the US and Europe. The era of the “hot hatch” has come and gone, with most automakers shifting focus to crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. To be sure, VW has its Scout brand set to introduce a new lineup of adventure-themed electric trucks and SUVs. But a plug-in hatchback, even one as affordable as the ID. 2all, will be pushing against the current when it eventually goes on sale.

VW says the ID. 2all represents an entirely new design language, with an emphasis on “likeability and enthusiasm,” which will inform its future electric lineup. And while the exterior of the ID. 2all does look similar to the discontinued (for the US) VW Golf, the interior is fairly distinct from the company’s current crop of EVs.

VW says it wants the interior to be “self-explanatory,” and photos confirm this, with floating displays for both the instrument cluster and the central infotainment. A knob on the center console could help address criticisms about the lack of physical controls in the ID.4.

But a retro-style interface, as seen here in photos by journalist (and Sports Grind Entertainment contributor) Daniel Golson, could bring those criticisms back to the forefront. After all, playing with a simulacrum of a vintage gauge cluster on a touchscreen just isn’t the same as the real thing.

When it comes out in 2025, the ID. 2all may not even be the cheapest EV in VW’s lineup. The automaker confirmed plans to produce an even more affordable, sub-20,000 euro model, which will likely bear the name ID.1. That vehicle, which is said to be similar to the current Polo minicar while also retaining stylings from the ID.Life concept from 2021, is expected to be released in 2027.

In the meantime, US customers have the Scout models to look forward to, as well as the longer wheelbase version of the ID. Buzz and the Arteon-inspired ID.7 sedan.