2018 Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion concept. Photo: Supplied
Greg Kable | Mar, 06 2018 | 0 Comments

Volkswagen has revealed its plans for a new electric-powered luxury sedan that is set to join its line-up as an indirect replacement for the discontinued Phaeton with the unveiling of the bold I.D. Vizzion concept at the 2018 Geneva motor show.

Previewing the fourth in what officials at its Wolfsburg headquarters in Germany have confirmed to Drive will be a series of five new I.D. production models already granted a greenlight by its chairman Mathias Mueller, the four-wheel drive I.D. Vizzion has been conceived to sit at the very top of the German car maker’s line-up, featuring limousine-like exterior dimensions, a plush leather lined cabin and, in a key pointer to the upcoming showroom version of the new car, a combined 225kW of power and an electric range of 665km.

Set to go on sale in key world markets, including Australia, in 2021, the big sedan forms an integral part of Volkswagen’s $13.7 billion Strategy 2025 electric car program. It will join production versions of the I.D. Hatchback, I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz and a yet to be revealed seven-seat SUV in an extended line-up of electric powered models aimed at establishing Volkswagen as a leading player in the electric car ranks.

Hinting that the latest Volkswagen concept, which uses a twin motor driveline similar to the I.D. Crozz and I.D. Buzz, is more than mere fantasy, Volkswagen says its latest concept mirrors how it imagines an electric-powered luxury class model could appear in the future.

“It transfers the characteristic design elements established on other I.D. models to a large sedan. Status is achieved through the intelligent use of space that provides for more interior accommodation than with conventional combustion engine limousines,” says Klaus Bischoff, head of Volkswagen brand design.

In a double role, the I.D. Vizzion also serves to showcase Level 5 autonomous driving, self-learning, hologram-based interior control and augmented reality technology that Volkswagen says it is developing and expects to incorporate on its models from 2030.

Among its hi-tech arsenal are LIDAR laser scanners, ultra-sound sensors, radar sensors as well as a series of cameras at the front, rear and sides. A further central component in Volkswagen’s vision for the future of production cars is an artificial intelligence system that goes beyond the model-based programming of today’s driver assistance systems and the machine learning capability of systems touted to be introduced within the next five years by providing fully independent decision making processes that allows it to drive exclusively without human input.

Volkswagen says it predicts that both Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous driving functions will be a reality by 2025, suggesting fully hands-off driving will arrive faster than currently expected.  

Although the new concept car on display in Geneva goes without a steering wheel in a preview of Volkswagen’s plans to introduce fully autonomous driving capability to its production models by the end of next decade in a four-seat interior described as a lounge on wheels, the new sedan is planned to be launched with a more conventional control layout similar to that of other first-generation I.D. models.

“It’s our intention to launch the car with a steering wheel,” says Bischoff, "though we are already thinking about the next step – and that is full autonomous capability where the steering wheel will become superfluous.”

The dimensions of I.D. Vizzion back up Volkswagen claims that it previews a new range topping model. At 5163mm in length, 1947mm in width and 1506mm in height, it is 16mm shorter but 39mm wider and 56mm higher than the long wheelbase Phaeton, Volkswagen’s long-running range-topping sedan that ceased production in 2016.

The basis for the big one-box luxury car is Volkswagen’s MEB (modularen elektrik baukasten – modular electric architecture) platform. It has been tailored to the requirements of the I.D. Vizzion with a wheelbase of 3100mm – some 199mm shorter than that of the I.D. Buzz.

Powering the latest I.D. concept are two individual electric motors – one developing 75kW placed up front and the other with 150kW sited at the rear. Sourced from a modular range of in-house produced electric motors that Volkswagen says will power the entire I.D. line-up, they provide the Vizzion with an overall system output of 225kW, with drive channelled directly to each axle and, subsequently, all four wheels.

Although no weight figure has been revealed, computer simulations carried out by Volkswagen point to a 0-100km/h time of 6.3sec – a time that roughly compares to a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine powered Passat. The German car maker also provides a theoretical top speed it says is limited to 180km/h.   

Energy used to run the electric motors is stowed in a large 111kWh lithium-ion battery, which is mounted within a flat floor structure to keep the centre gravity of the big luxury car comparatively low and its weight distribution at a near perfect 50:50 split front-to-rear. All up, it is claimed to provide a range of up to 665km – some 365km more than today’s eGolf, which receives a 152kW electric motor and 48kWh lithium-ion battery. 

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