And it has the Tesla Model 3 in its crosshairs.
After a six-year absence from the Consumer Electronics Show, Volkswagen has made a triumphant return and has debuted the all-new ID.7, the marque's first-ever electric sedan.
While the show vehicle wears smart camouflage - a digital disguise that uses multi-layered paintwork to create light effects on the bodywork - it's clear that the ID.7 draws plenty of inspiration from the ID.Aero concept first seen last year in China.
The sleek four-door, based on the brand's modular electric drive matrix (MEB) platform, boasts several innovative features, including digitally controlled air vents, a 15-inch screen, and augmented reality (AR) functionality for the head-up display.
VW says these features have been implemented after listening to customer feedback. The German automaker has received backlash for its latest generation of controls, which have been criticized for being awkward to use.
The new air-conditioning system has a host of convenience functions. The car can detect the driver approaching and cool the interior on hot days, for example. This works in colder weather as well, as the ID.7 is capable of heating the cabin when it senses the key fob.
The Smart Air Vents can control airflow with precision. If passengers are in the vehicle, it can distribute cold air directly to occupants. Individuals will be able to control these functions through the new touchscreen and even save their respective settings.
Similar to the way in which Mercedes' "Hey, Mercedes!" voice command system works, the ID.7 is equipped to accommodate passenger needs via a voice command setup. By saying "Hello Volkswagen, my hands are cold," the electric sedan will automatically activate the heated steering wheel and direct warm air to the driver's hands.
"With the new ID.7, we are extending our electric model range into the upper segments. The sedan will offer top-class technology and quality," said the CEO of VW Passenger Cars, Thomas Schafer. "The ID.7 is one of 10 new electric models that we are planning to launch by 2026. Our goal? To deliver suitable products for our customers in every single segment."
While difficult to see through the disguise, Volkswagen says the ID.7's sleek bodywork is very aerodynamic, with the front end and roof, in particular, designed to increase range and reduce energy consumption. The automaker has previously said the ID. Aero concept boasts a 0.23 coefficient of drag. It's unclear at this time whether the production vehicle will have the same figure.
Clever air intakes, positioned at the front, channel air down either side of the vehicle and to the rear. This, says the automaker, calms airflow on the sides of the ID.7 by creating an air curtain. All this clever trickery amounts to an impressive range figure - VW says the newcomer will be able to travel up to 434 miles on a single charge (based on the WLTP cycle).
Due to the clever design of the MEB platform, the ID.7 should prove more spacious than its proportions suggest. Thanks to short overhangs and generous 116.9-inch wheelbase, Volkswagen claims the minimalist interior is as spacious as a luxury sedan.
Those lucky enough to see the ID.7 in person will also get to explore the unique digital camouflage. 40 layers of paint have been used to create the interactive disguise. VW notes that 22 areas of the vehicle can be controlled and are electrified below the top layer of paint to put on a rather distinctive light show. When connected to an audio system, the rhythm is visualized in different areas.
Volkswagen has previously said the ID. Aero (now known as the ID.7) will launch in China later this year. An official unveiling will also happen sometime in 2023, so expect it to hit the roads in 2024.
Once it arrives, it will join the ID.4 and ID.Buzz in VW America's electric lineup and, importantly, give the German brand a bona fide Tesla Model 3 fighter. As mentioned by Schafer, it's just one of 10 electric models Volkswagen is poised to reveal in the coming years. We've already seen a preview of the updated ID.3 hatchback, and we're expecting a sporty version of the ID.Buzz to arrive in the coming months.
It may take some time, but in the ID.7, Volkswagen may have found the tool to unseat Tesla from the EV throne.