VW shows 700km range Tesla Model 3 rival — but will it be affordable enough?

Vw Shows 700Km Range Tesla Model 3 Rival — But Will It Be Affordable Enough?
The new ID.7 will go on sale in Ireland in time for January 2024, but can it really take on a cheaper Tesla?
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Neil Briscoe

There’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to describe the new Volkswagen ID.7 as an electric Passat replacement, but that’s not quite right.

While the Passat has, unquestionably, become something of a sober-suited motoring icon down through the years, and while this new ID.7 shadows it by being a VW-badged four-door saloon, the truth is that the two cars could hardly be more different.


For a start, the Passat will get a final petrol-powered generation, starting later this year, and it will be sold exclusively as an estate (which may well torpedo Irish sales once and for all) and with both diesel and plug-in hybrid power.


Then there’s the size issue — the ID.7, while it’s lower-slung and sleeker than VW’s electric SUV offerings (hallelujah…) is not a small car. In fact it’s the guts of 5 metres long — Mercedes S-Class size — and has a whopping 2.97-metre wheelbase, which should make for an impressive amount of lounging room in the back seats.


More significantly that wheelbase means VW can fit the ID.7 with a whopping great battery pack. At the moment, the largest battery available in any ID model is a 77kWh (net) pack, as used across the whole ID range, as well as their Audi, Skoda, and Cupra cousins. To get a 700km range, which is what VW is talking about for the ID.7, that’s probably not going to be enough, even with the slicker aero package that the ID.7 presents to the onrushing air at speed.


Although VW won’t yet confirm it, it looks very much as if the ID.7 will be the first ID model to get a 100kWh battery pack, a rumour seemingly confirmed by the fact that the incoming Audi A6 e-tron will get a similarly-sized pack. While the Audi will run on a different platform to the ID.7, VW is known to be starting on a plan of sharing a common battery cell design, which can be built up into large battery packs, across all its vehicles and brands.


Fast charging

That will make the ID.7, for now, the ultimate car using the MEB electric car platform, but that won’t last long. While the original plan had been to start phasing MEB out by 2025, in favour of a vastly more sophisticated architecture called SSP delays and difficulties in developing the software for that platform means that now VW is retrenching and investing more in the MEB setup. According to the Frankfurter Allgemine Zeitung newspaper, there will be a new MEB+ platform, which will get faster charging (possibly up to 200kW, from a current limit of 135kW for most MEB-derived models) and which will be more cost-effective to build.

Inside, the ID.7 will quite likely get a much more sophisticated interior than its current stablemates. VW wouldn’t let us inside the prototype ID.7 it was showing to us at an event in the UK, but we do know that the car will get a new infotainment system.


The smart air vents are controlled electronically and move dynamically to distribute the air quickly throughout the interior.

This uses a 15-inch screen with improved software and menu layouts, and while it retains the awkward ‘slider’ touch-sensitive controls for cabin heating, these will at last now be backlit so that you can find them at night (again, hallelujah). The overall layout of the cabin, while using familiar ID family components, looks — from the images we’ve seen — to be more sophisticated in style.

There’s also a clever air conditioning system with motorised air vents, which can direct warm or cold air, as needed, to the bits of the cabin that need it most, and which can even respond to the angle of the sun hitting the cabin. It’s also voice controlled, meaning that you can tell it that ‘my feet are cold’ and it will respond accordingly.


Which is all just as well as the ID.7 is unlikely to be cheap when it arrives in Ireland in December. VW isn’t talking prices as yet, but there have been noises-off suggesting that it will be priced at a similar level to the ID.Buzz, which would see it land with a €60,000+ price tag. That’s a whopper of a sticker for a car that looks like it ought to be an electric Passat, and especially given that VW namechecks the Tesla Model 3 as the car’s most significant rivals.


Tesla has just dropped the price of a long-range Model 3 to €52,990 and while the ID.7 will offer more cabin space and an extra 100km of range compared to the Tesla, one has to ask if that will be enough to bridge the gap in price.

VW is adamant that it won’t get into a price-cutting war with Tesla.

“With our all-electric vehicles, we were once again market leader in Europe in 2022," said Priscilla Cortezze, Volkswagen’s head of international strategy.

"With the ID.7, we have an additional and highly attractive product in the pipeline for this year. With the upcoming product updates of the ID3 and MEB+, we have also taken the decision to make our ID family even more attractive. Our EV order backlogs carry well into 2023, with some models already sold out for 2023. Our priority now is to deliver the vehicles to customers. The current order book already reflects last year’s price rounds.


"We will continue to closely monitor further developments in both the cost and market situation for all-electric vehicles in all core markets and take appropriate action if necessary. As a matter of principle, we do not focus on the quantity of our business, but on its quality. High profitability therefore takes precedence over high volumes."

Hybrid car sales fall despite 9.4% rise in new car...
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At least the ID.7 will be more practical than its most significant rival

It may not have much choice, though. In the US, Ford has just cut the price of the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV by as much as $5,900. Ireland hasn’t benefitted from those cuts yet, but a spokesperson for Ford Ireland told The Irish Times that: “This announcement is specific to North America. Across Europe, we are constantly reviewing our price structure to offer the best possible price for our customers.”

At least the ID.7 will be more practical than its most significant rival — instead of a separate boot, the ID.7 gets a sloping fastback hatchback, which should open to reveal at least a 600-litre luggage space. If you need more than that, just be patient — a ‘shooting brake’ estate model has been confirmed, and has been previewed by the handsome ID Space Vizzion concept car. There will also, eventually, be a high-performance four-wheel drive GTX variant.

Sadly not coming soon is the dramatic camouflage of the prototype. Designed to mimic the look of a QR code (and with actual QR codes built into the pattern) this is not a mere vinyl wrap, but a 40-later paint job with electro-luminescence built in that means it lights up from within. It can even be set to pulse and shimmer in time to music, if you like. A car that responds to Spotify? Is that enough to take on the Tesla juggernaut?

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