The Volkswagen ID.3, the first of a family of electric cars based on the automaker's MEB platform, is now in production in Europe. VW claims customers there will benefit from significantly lower ownership costs than comparable internal-combustion cars.
Low ownership costs are often used by automakers to distract from any price premium electric cars might carry over internal-combustion models.
But VW has said the ID.3 will cost less than a gasoline or diesel Golf hatchback—once incentives are factored in, that is. In Germany, the ID.3 has a base price of €30,000 ($33,203), which is more than a Golf. But a €6,750 ($7,480) environmental bonus will erase that gap, according to VW.
As current electric-car owners know, the ID.3 requires less routine maintenance than an internal-combustion car. Electric cars don't need oil changes, after all, and regenerative braking means less wear on the friction brakes.
VW also noted that the ID.3 will not need biannual inspections in Germany, and said the car is expected to have relatively low insurance costs.
However, the automaker does expect shorter tire life, due to the use of low rolling-resistance tires for better efficiency.
Nonetheless, VW expects running costs for the ID.3 to be about €50 ($55) cheaper per month than comparable internal-combustion models, or €600 ($664) per year.
Volkswagen ID 3
Finally, VW believes the ID.3 will hold its value better than previous electric cars.
That's based on the assumption that a more robust market for used electric cars will develop, and that the development of battery technology will slow down, leaving less of a gap in range and charging speed between new and used cars.
VW is also offering an eight-year, 160,000-kilometer (99,000-mile), battery warranty to give customers extra piece of mind.
If VW's predictions prove true, the automaker will buck the trend of previous non-Tesla electric cars, which have experienced serious depreciation.
The ID.3 will not be sold in the United States. The first MEB model sold in the U.S. will be the ID.4 crossover, a sensible move considering American buyers' current infatuation with crossovers and typical disinterest in hatchbacks.
Given the lower cost of fuel in the U.S. compared to Europe, it's unclear if VW's ownership-cost predictions will carry over to the ID.4.
VW hasn't said how much the ID.4 will cost in the U.S., either. VW of America CEO Scott Keogh told us last year that the electric crossover would be priced close to a similarly sized internal-combustion car.
But prior to that, Thomas Ulbrich, VW Group Board of Management member responsible for e-mobility, said electric cars would be priced like comparable diesel cars, meaning they would sell at a slight premium over gasoline cars in the U.S.