I don’t like the new Volkswagen ID.2 at all. Which inevitably means it will be an enormous success.
When the car was driven onto stage last night to make its debut, I felt a wave of disappointment. It looked like a design which had been put on a shelf five years ago and then dusted off to fill an emergency gap. If you put it on smaller wheels and made the mirrors less spangly, you wouldn’t look twice if it was parked on a street. It's a design which is two years away from production, so that’s hardly pushing the boundaries.
A colleague said it was the automotive equivalent of magnolia emulsion. A few others on the Electrifying WhatsApp group posted yawning emojis. Why would they make something so dull, we asked?
An automotive executive called Bob Lutz once told me something which has stuck with me. He was revealing a car called the Chrysler PT Cruiser, which was certainly a divisive design.
He told me that from a cross section of 10 people, five would hate it with a passion. The other five would love it so much they would buy one. If you build a dull car, you end up as second (or third, or fourth) choice on the shopping list and the only way to compete then is on things which cost money, like discounts or equipment.
Take off the concept's spangles and you wouldn't like twice at an ID.2 if you walked past it on the street
The exception, he said, was Volkswagen. There are millions of people who just want a VW because it represents a safe choice. The neighbours won’t be shocked if one arrives on the drive. Buyers know (or hope) it will be reliable, easy to sell on and should do everything well. They don’t want a car which turns heads.
It seems the ID.3 might have spooked the VW faithful a little. It was too crazy looking, and didn’t do the usual Volkswagen things well – especially the below par interior. It feels like the ID.2all is a kneejerk reaction to this, like having beans on toast for tea after eating a spicy curry for lunch. It’s a reset to normality. The interior has real switches and quality (well, as far as we can tell - the concept’s is nothing but a computer generated image at the moment), while the exterior is inoffensive to the point of anonymity.
The reaction I have the the ID.2all won’t worry anyone at VW. Apparently the members of the board at the company gave the ID.2all a standing ovation when it was revealed to them. I guess for the same reasons Dulux likes magnolia emulsion – they know it will sell.
Once past the shock of the unsurprising looks, the ID.2 has a lot going for it. The information we have been given needs a little decoding, as it’s clear the version which will cost £23,000 isn’t the one which will do 280 miles on a charge.
The interior only exists in a computer programme, currently
There are going to be two batteries offered – supposedly 38 and 56kWh – and 125kW charging. Some arithmetic suggests the smaller (and cheaper) model will have a range of about 180 miles. If you like the sound of that but fancy a little more design on your drive, there’s going to be a Cupra and Skoda version, along with a VW SUV-shaped model.
There is also an ID.1 in the plan, which we are promised will cost under £20,000. Perhaps that’s when Volkswagen can prove once again that they can do design which appeals to everyone. The car it will replace - the Up! - proved that careful, clever styling can appeal to both the people who would paint their walls magnolia and those who’d prefer magenta. It still looks fresh and interesting today. If only I could say the same about the ID.2.
The Up! appealed to all with good design