Volkswagen is turning over a new leaf. The automaker announced Monday that its upcoming ID, the company’s first all-electric car design, is designed to be completely carbon dioxide-neutral throughout its lifespan, by ensuring that its factory production uses all clean energy to avoid emissions.
“The announcement is a welcome shift for the firm, which just four years ago was found cheating on emissions tests and hit with $15 billion in fines. With the upcoming ID, the company plans to produce battery cells in Europe using clean energy, while exploring ways to use renewable sources in raw material production. The Zwickau production facility in Germany, which will produce the ID, also uses entirely clean energy. Volkswagen expects its new strategy to reduce carbon dioxide by one million tons per year, equivalent to a coal plant that serves 300,000 households — assuming the buyer charges the car from sustainable sources. Thomas Ulbrich, head of e-mobility at Volkswagen, described the car as “the Group’s first climate-neutrally produced electric car,” adding that “truly sustainable mobility is feasible if we all want it and we all work on it.”
The plan echoes that of other automakers aiming to bring renewable energy to production. Tesla is building 70 megawatts of solar capacity on the roof of its Nevada Gigafactory, which it claims will be the largest such array in the world when complete. General Motors also announced in October 2018 that its Arlington facility in Texas would receive all of its electricity form the nearby Cactus Flats Wind Farm. Volkswagen’s Zwickau plant has used all-green energy since 2017.
The ID is set to come in versions with 206 and 312 miles of range, based on WLTP ratings. It offers charging speeds of up to 125 kilowatts, powering a rear-wheel drive motor of around 134 kilowatts. The top speed will clock in at around 100 mph, meaning this car is aimed at the general commuter than the speed demon. Pricing and other factors have yet to be determined, but it’s part of a broader effort that will see the firm invest €9 billion ($10.2 billion) in electric mobility by 2023.
While there’s a number of unknowns about Volkswagen’s strategy, it’s a sign that competition is heating up among the traditional automakers. These newcomers to the electric space aren’t afraid to try new things: Volvo brand Polestar is experimenting with a subscription-based purchase model.