Volkswagen is rolling out what it bills as the breakthrough electric car for the mass market, the leading edge of a wave of new battery-powered vehicles about to hit the European auto market.
The cars are the result of big investments in battery technology and new factories driven by environmental regulation and concerns about global warming.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said that the launch is “a decisive moment” for the company and that the ID.3 will “bring the electric car from its niche into the middle of society.”
But it’s not at all clear whether consumers are ready to buy them. Electric cars remain a niche product, with less than 2% of the market, due to higher prices and worries about a lack of places to charge. It adds up to a risky undertaking for the companies.
Volkswagen is betting that the ID.3, with a roomy interior, brisk acceleration and battery range of up to 550 kilometers (340 miles) for the top model, will change things. It argues that the base price under 30,000 euros ($33,000) makes the ID.3 “an electric car for everyone.” A key competitor, Tesla’s Model 3, starts at 36,800 euros ($40,000) in Europe, but the company’s website indicates it can run to well over 40,000 euros, depending on options.
The ID.3 went on display Monday ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show, and Volkswagen is also revealing a new logo.
Both moves are aimed at underlining the company’s transformation since its 2015 diesel scandal, in which Volkswagen was caught using software to cheat on emissions testing and paid more than 30 billion euros ($33 billion) in fines and penalties. The company is positioning itself as younger and more oriented toward digital services and zero local emissions electric driving.
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