As a mainstream manufacturer, Volkswagen is putting a bigger emphasis on volume-oriented models than on niche cars as it develops its range of electric vehicles. The ID.3, a Golf-sized hatchback, recently went on sale in many European markets. The ID.4, a Tiguan-sized crossover, will break cover before the end of 2020. Quicker, handling-focused models aren’t a priority, but enthusiasts are asking for them and Volkswagen will deliver.
“There is a market. Some customers are requesting that we show what is possible. It is a tradeoff between performance and range, because there is a very direct relationship between the two. There is definitely a market, an interest on the customer’s part. They’re buyers who prefer the performance because maybe they don’t prioritize the range,” Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen’s board member for electric mobility, told Autoblog.
Developing a performance car generally requires removing as much weight as possible, but designing an electric car with an acceptable amount of driving range normally means using a bulky battery pack. Volkswagen isn’t the only carmaker stuck in this pickle. Although it competes in a completely different segment of the market, McLaren explained it ran into the exact same issues when testing electric technology on the road and on the track, and concluded it most likely will not be able to release a model without pistons until 2025 at the earliest.
Volkswagen didn’t provide us with a timeline, but it’s confident it will solve the range-performance equation in a timely manner. It’s notably applying lessons learned from racing the record-breaking ID.R globally, including at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. And, it has already decided its sporty EVs will wear the GTX nameplate.
“The idea is, as you know, that we’ll extend range again and again and again by improving our battery technology, and by making more efficient drivetrains. I think that, somewhere down the road, it will fit perfectly together, and we are convinced that there is a market for [sporty, GTX-badged electric vehicles],” Ulbrich added.
It’s still too early to tell which ID-badged models will receive the GTX treatment. However, picturing a hotter version of the ID.3 doesn’t require a superhuman stretch of the imagination. And, we’d bet on seeing a high-riding GTX model sooner or later; demand for hot-rodded crossovers is expected to continue growing globally. Regardless, the GTX badge will be inaugurated by a car built on the modular MEB platform, an architecture engineers made rear-engined and rear-wheel drive in its standard configuration in the name of driving enjoyment.
“Looking at the weight distribution, this decision was made very early. With the battery adding weight, you have a super low center of gravity. In most front-wheel drive electric cars, you don’t have that much fun when you’re taking off because the front wheels spin, especially when it’s wet. With rear-wheel drive, that never happens. This is the reason we did that; fun. Otherwise, we would have had to restrict the torque, and I think torque is fun every day,” explained Silke Bagschik, Volkswagen’s head of electric car marketing and sales, in an interview with Autoblog.