Volkswagen Is About to Show Its Affordable Electric SUV

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Slowly but surely, Volkswagen's (NASDAQOTH: VLKAY) plans for a range of mass-market electric vehicles are coming into sharper focus. VW said on Wednesday that it will show a revised version of its "I.D. Crozz" concept at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt next week. 

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The first iteration of the I.D. Crozz, shown in Shanghai this past April, was said to be a preview of an electric crossover SUV that VW is expected to begin producing in about three years. But it was clearly just for show, with a lot of fanciful details. 

The strong hint from VW is that this revised version will feature styling that's closer to the upcoming production model's. Here's what we know about it and how this electric crossover fits into Volkswagen's electric-vehicle plan.

What we know about the I.D. Crozz

VW released the artist's rendering above as a "teaser," a hint as to what the revamped I.D. Crozz show vehicle will look like. Here's what the company said: 

The redesigned concept car is based on the all-electric architecture and is characterised by a clean, powerful design. The front and rear end designs, in particular, point more in the direction of a production model. Also defining its styling are the wide bonnet [hood] with the front wings [fenders] contoured in large radii and the roof whose exterior surface is finished in high-gloss black.

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VW also said that the revamped Crozz will share a feature with its sibling, the much-anticipated Microbus-styled I.D. Buzz: a spacious interior for its size, thanks to its compact electric motors and the packaging of its battery pack in the vehicle's floor.

When it showed the first I.D. Crozz concept last spring, VW said that it had two electric motors providing all-wheel drive, powered by an 83 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack that was sufficient to give it 500 kilometers of range (312 miles) on the European electric-vehicle test cycle. (The U.S. test cycle is more conservative; that probably translates to about 240-250 miles of range here.) 

VW said that the two motors would combine to generate about 300 horsepower. That's not enough to call the I.D. Crozz a Tesla fighter, but it should be enough power to make the vehicle a fun daily driver -- assuming that it goes into production in that configuration, of course.

How the I.D. Crozz fits into VW's electric-vehicle plan

Volkswagen seems determined to establish "I.D." as a sub-brand of its namesake VW mass-market brand. So far, it has shown three concept vehicles that share the I.D. naming convention and key styling aspects: The I.D. Crozz was preceded by the I.D., a compact hatchback, and the I.D. Buzz, a striking futuristic take on VW's much-loved Microbus

VW has confirmed that both of those vehicles will make it to production -- but not for a few years, as the company is still working on building out the infrastructure and supply chains it will need to make electric vehicles in mass-market volumes.

They'll begin arriving in 2020, and they'll almost certainly have competition by then. Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY) just revealed its second-generation electric Leaf, and it's expected to launch an electric crossover and possibly a larger sedan based on the Leaf's architecture -- along with a faster, longer-range Leaf -- over the next couple of years. 

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has said that it will release a compact electric crossover in 2020, and there are signs that it's planning more electric models. And while General Motors (NYSE: GM) has been very quiet about its plans for electric vehicles beyond its well-regarded Chevrolet Bolt EV, there have been hints that GM has a much more ambitious electric-vehicle effort in the works. 

VW's electrics will begin arriving in 2020

VW said that I.D. hatchback will be the first of the series too arrive, in 2020. It subsequently confirmed, last month, that the I.D. Buzz will go into production in 2022. There have been reports suggesting that the I.D. Crozz will arrive in between those two, in late 2020 or 2021, but VW hasn't yet made an official announcement. 

I expect we'll have more news on that front when VW presents the revised concept vehicle next week.

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