After teasing it for a while, Volkswagen has revealed its compact electric vehicle at the Paris Motor Show. Ostensibly the car that “starts the countdown to a new era” for the German carmaker, the ID Concept will hit the roads in 2020. The first compact Volkswagen based on the newly developed Modular Electric Drive Kit, or MEB, the ID is the first of many cars to be based on the same underpinnings and powered by purely electric drivetrains.

The four-door ID is 4,100mm long, 1,800mm wide and 1,530mm high. Although it’s 155mm shorter overall than a Golf, its wheelbase of 2,750mm is a good 130mm longer than that of the Golf, and closer to the Passat’s. This means despite the compact exterior dimensions and the short overhangs, the ID will provide ample space in its cabin for occupants.

Even though it’s a concept car, Volkswagen has presented some solid technical statistics and figures. Thus we know that the ID, powered by a 170 horsepower electric motor, has a range of between 400km and 600km. With power transferred to the rear axle via a single speed transmission, the ID will run from 0-100kph in “under” eight seconds, and can go up to a top speed of 160kph. Since the pack is positioned low in the floor of the car, it boasts a low centre of gravity, which should have a positive bearing on driving dynamics. Volkswagen also says subsequent production versions could be equipped with electric motors offering more or less power than the concept’s, letting a customer choose from different drive systems according to his or her needs.

“The electric powertrain gives our designers far greater freedom. We have shrunk the cooling grilles to a minimum, shifted the axles far outwards and created breathtaking proportions, as demonstrated by the ID - an icon of the future,” says Klaus Bischoff, Volkwagen’s head of Design. "We had the unique opportunity to guide Volkswagen into a new era, and with the ID we have taken this opportunity."

Even before its official reveal, Volkswagen had said this new car can be as significant for the brand and the automobile world as the Beetle and the Golf have been.