Volkswagen Shows Off Awesome New Tech in ID Series of Electric Vehicles
One of the most hotly anticipated electric vehicles of 2020 is the Volkswagen ID.3. The hatchback is the first of Volkswagen’s cars to ride on its new MEB platform, which has been designed from the ground up to carry Volkswagen’s upcoming series of EVs.
It’s also meant to offer solid range, good cargo capacity, excellent road manners, and affordability in one convenient package—much like the Volkswagen Golf has been doing since 1974.
But the market for new cars looks vastly different today than it did almost 50 years ago. New models have lofty expectations to meet. They can’t just be transportation—they have to have eye-catching infotainment systems with big, colorful screens and pack in all sorts of other technology.
This feels especially true in the electric vehicle segment, which Tesla dominates with its cutting-edge user experience.
With ID.3 being the first release of VW’s incoming electric vehicle sub-brand, it’s clear the automaker wants to build its own reputation for technology. As a preview of what to expect, the German automaker released three videos highlighting some of the car’s cool new features.
Welcome Light and Hello ID
The ID.3’s headlights and puddle lights will light up when the driver approaches the car—the language in the video makes it seem like this may be an automatic behavior like auto-presenting door handles on Model S.
Volkswagen has made the car’s headlights look like eyes, and they are even shown moving from side-to-side in the video.
The light show continues inside the car, too. A light bar on the dashboard called the ID Light will provide visible notifications to the driver about things like incoming calls.
Volkswagen is also touting the car’s “Hello ID” voice recognition system, which will be capable of adjusting the car’s temperature, among other things.
The ID.3 has opted for a two-screen interior setup like the BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Tesla Model S and X. A screen for the driver is mounted behind the steering wheel and a screen in the center controls just about everything else in the car.
It has a multifunction steering wheel that looks similar to those used in current production Volkswagens, but this one features touch capacitive controls instead of buttons.
Finally, it looks like Volkswagen copied BMW’s homework when designing the shifter.
Augmented Reality Heads-up Display and Driver Assists
The standout feature of the ID.3 will likely be the augmented reality heads-up display, which one-ups all other heads-up displays on the market in a big, show-stopping way.
Heads-up displays project information such as vehicle speed onto the windshield for the driver, letting them look at the information while keeping their heads up instead of looking down at the gauge cluster. Traditionally, they’re small and are only projected on a small portion of the windshield above the driver-side dashboard, which limits how much information they can include.
Volkswagen’s tech is far more advanced than this. The video shows the heads-up display working across the entire windshield and actively tracking the environment around it—projecting navigation arrows onto the street the driver is being directed to turn on.
The augmented reality function is also shown being used in conjunction with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The system is shown highlighting the car ahead that the adaptive cruise control software is tracking.
This function looks like it will serve the same role as Tesla’s Autopilot visualizer setup, informing the driver what the car is seeing and going to do so they can monitor the system and take control if necessary.
Speaking of Tesla, Volkswagen’s packaging of the ID.3 and its multitude of futuristic features show a take on an EV more similar to the market leader than any other traditional car company has made yet.
The Audi e-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace, and Chevrolet Bolt EV are all great cars, but they look like and feel much more like “normal” cars than the tech gadgets Teslas are. The ID.3 seeks to deliver some of the same tech-wizardry that so many electric vehicle fans are fond of.
While Americans won’t see these features on the ID.3 on account of the car not being sold here, the upcoming ID.4 crossover will likely feature much of the same tech and be built in the United States for release in late 2020 or early 2021.