What the ID.Life concept reveals about Volkswagen’s design direction


One of the stars of the 2021 Munich auto show was the Volkswagen ID.Life, a concept built to preview an entry-level electric car aimed at a relatively young target audience. While it might not reach production exactly as you see it in our gallery, it illustrates the direction that the German firm’s design language will take in the coming years.

What stands out when you look at the ID.Life is that it shares no styling cues with Volkswagen’s existing electric cars, like the ID.4. It’s its own thing, with a handful of subtle retro touches if you look hard enough. Jozef Kabaň, the company’s head of design, told Autoblog that was intentional; his team’s aim was not to make a smaller ID.3. It was to create a crossover with a timeless design, and this was especially important due to the technology packed in it.


“Cars these days are technologically always on air, they get over-the-air updates so your car is always fresh, so it would be a shame if the design becomes [outdated]. We wanted to work on that even m ore,” Kabaň explained as he described the train of thought that shaped the ID.Life. He noted making a car with a strong character doesn’t always mean overloading it with unnecessary styling cues and add-ons, and the Life illustrates that well inside and out.


Looking ahead, this approach to design will permeate the rest of the Volkswagen range to varying degrees.

“Volkswagen’s design language always has to move in a more timeless direction. It fits the brand,” Kabaň said. “We want to be authentic and clear and use real materials; there’s no fake of any kind or trying to look like something else. Fake exhaust outlets, fake wood, and so on. We want our cars to be well balanced,” he added.

This isn’t the first time that Volkswagen has built a concept to showcase the fun side of its modular MEB platform. It wowed us with the ID.Buggy, a heritage-inspired design study unveiled in 2019 that put a modern spin on the concept of a dune buggy — and previewed a new world of coachbuilt cars. Production was tentatively planned to start with the help of a third party until obstacles put the project on hiatus but the Buggy isn’t dead yet. Ralf Brandstätter, the CEO of the Volkswagen brand, told Autoblog that the concept car’s future is “still in discussion.”

As for the Life, the production model it will morph into is scheduled to land in showrooms in 2025.

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