VW plans Tesla-fighting electric crossover

Christiaan Hetzner

Automotive News | 2019-4-16

SHANGHAI -- Volkswagen plans to launch a flagship full-electric crossover based on the ID Roomzz concept unveiled here Sunday.

The production version will be a three-row, seven-seat model that will compete against large electric crossovers such as the Tesla Model X.

The crossover will "launch initially" in China starting in 2021, VW said in a statement released ahead of the public debut of the ID Roomzz at the Shanghai auto show this week.

VW CEO Herbert Diess said the production ID Roomzz will be the flagship EV to be launched by Volkswagen in China.

"We plan to produce more than 22 million electric cars in the next 10 years," Diess said, adding that around half of VWs engineers were working on products destined for China.

Diess said the SUV would eventually be rolled out to other markets but did not comment on the timing. The model is expected to be sold in the U.S. and Europe.

The ID Roomzz is 4920 mm (194 inches) long, which is 42 mm (1.7 inches) longer than VWs Touareg midsize crossover. It has four seats but the production version will have up to seven seats.

The concept's seating is flexible, turning it into "a lounge on wheels for a life on the road," VW said.

The crossover is designed to offer Level 4 autonomous driving, which means it can drive itself in most situations.

To start the self-driving mode, the driver presses on a VW logo on the steering wheel for at least five seconds. The step shifts the steering wheel to an off position to provide more space in the cockpit area.

Each seat can be rotated inward 25 degrees to enable more communication between driver and passengers. Seats can also be reclined when car is in autonomous mode. Pressing on the steering wheel logo will allow the driver to take back control.

The concept has a digital glass-front panel with a dashboard and steering wheel that appears to float in front of the driver as a visual display. Interactive light zones provide passengers with information via intuitively perceptible lighting effects.

The interior has environmentally friendly features. For example, the seat material contains residual matter from apple juice production, which VW calls AppleSkin. The material can replace 20 percent of the polyurethane currently used in a seat.

The ID Roomzz is powered by an 82 kilowatt-hour battery that can be recharged wirelessly. Its range on a single charge is 450 km (280 miles) under Europe's new WLTP test cycle.

A 150-kilowatt electric motor in the rear provides most of the propulsion. Combined with a smaller 75 kW motor, it can be driven with permanent all-wheel drive.

The ID Roomzz can accelerate from 0-100 kph (62 mph) in 6.6. seconds. Its top speed is limited to 180 kph (112 mph).

The ID. Roomzz is the first concept from the ID electric-car family where the taillight signature can be customized via a smartphone app.

The production crossover will be based on VWs scalable MEB electric architecture.

The ID Roomzz is the second electric crossover concept from the VW brand after the smaller Crozz that debuted two years ago in Shanghai.

The ID family will include a Golf-sized hatchback that will go on sale in Europe early next year, along with the Crozz and Crozz Coupe crossovers, and a retro-styled I.D. Buzz microbus.

To enhance the VW Group's r&d capabilities, Volkswagen and its premium brand Audi will combine their r&d operations in China.

VW brands head of e-mobility, Thomas Ulbrich, said the carmaker will start ramping up production of 33 EVs by mid-2023, using the MEB platform to build EVs under the Skoda, Seat, Audi and VW brands.

Ulbrich said VW Group is converting 16 factories worldwide to enable mass production of EVs, of which eight plants will be making VW branded vehicles.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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