Watch Elon Musk as He Drives the Volkswagen ID.3 and Seems Unimpressed

Musk driving the VW ID.3 1 photo
Photo: LinkedIn video screenshot
Elon Musk was in Germany last week, and even though his main purpose for being there was to oversee the development of the Berlin Gigafactory, he was also invited to a meeting by his counterpart from Volkswagen, Dr. Herbert Diess.
Volkswagen is currently preparing for the first customer deliveries of its eagerly anticipated ID.3 model - the first purpose-built electric vehicle from the German manufacturer that is meant to signal the start of a new era for the Wolfsburg-based company.

Several factors prompted Volkswagen to make this sustained push into EV territory - the stricter emission regulations, the overall direction of the market, the growing success of Tesla - but the one thing that lit a fire under its feet was the 2015 Dieselgate scandal. The response came as a short- to mid-term strategy to rinse the company's public image and reputation after the severe tarnish following the unveiling of its emissions scam.

While it may be a little too early to tell, considering the overwhelmingly positive reception that news of the ID.3 had, you could say the plan worked. However, the real test for Volkswagen still lies ahead, and it's all connected to the brand's electric hatchback (for the EU region) and crossover (for NA and Asia) models.

Taking full advantage of Elon Musk's presence in Germany, Volkswagen asked him - the man more or less responsible for the emergence of the EV trend - to take the ID.3 out for a spin and, sure enough, the Tesla CEO did not decline the invitation.

We're not entirely sure what Volkswagen and Dr. Herbert Diess looked to get out of this apart from some media coverage. Obviously, Elon Musk wasn't too impressed with the ID.3, and why should he be? The electric VW is inferior to the Tesla Model 3 in almost every aspect, except for price and, we're willing to guess, build quality. Apart from that, the American EV surpasses its German counterpart on all accounts.

Musk declared himself particularly displeased by the lack of torque, despite the fact he got to drive an ID.3 Pro Performance, which is the most dynamically capable of the bunch. Diess used the "it's not a sports car" excuse, which is perfectly valid, but it also raises a question: if you can have a car that offers all the practicality of the ID.3 plus some added sportiness, why would you choose anything else?

Musk learned his lesson quickly, though, so when commenting about the steering, he said "[...} for a non-sporty car, it's pretty good." Well, it is a rear-wheel-drive car, so it should be. Next, Elon asked about Tesla's other big selling point, apart from its acceleration: driver's aid systems. "We have the typical German state-of-the-art lane keeping and emergency assist systems," answered Diess, which is a statement that is pompous as it is vague. We'll just have to wait and see what the first reviews make of these systems.

Musk reportedly also inspected the slightly larger ID.4, which will be a direct competitor for the Model Y in the US as well, unlike the ID.3 which will never make the jump over the Atlantic. He didn't get to drive it, but it's safe to assume it will be to the ID.3 what the Y is to the Model 3, so not that big a stretch of the imagination.

It's hard to read what Elon Musk thought about the whole experience based strictly on a very short clip, especially since he kept his poker face throughout and was adequately polite as required by the occasion. However, one can only imagine he still feels that Tesla has a few years ahead of the competition, though the gap is definitely narrowing.

While Tesla's vehicles might hold a technological advancement, with clever pricing, good design, and the brand's reputation for constructing good, solid cars, Volkswagen is capable of causing an upset. A recent talk between VAG CEO Herbert Diess and Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh, however, revealed the fact that the Germans might not target potential Tesla Model Y buyers with the upcoming ID.4, but rather customers who would have otherwise bought a traditionally-powered car.

Given the rate at which the EV demand is growing, there's probably room for everyone. Besides, Elon Musk has always said that he welcomes competition and that he'll be a happy man when all the other car makers will be making EVs on a large scale. It looks like Elon Musk's happiness is about to reach new heights over the next years.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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