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The most interesting feature of the all-electric Volkswagen ID 7 sedan is not its bright paint

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The all-electric Volkswagen ID 7 sedan – the next electric vehicle in the German automaker’s lineup – was unveiled at CES 2023 in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

And the most exciting part of the debut wasn’t the vehicle’s multi-layered explosion of camouflaged yellow, orange, red and blue electroluminescent paint that lights up on command. (although it’s eye-catching for the near-production version of the vehicle). Instead, it was a few features and changes from its previous ID models that showed VW was trying to up its software and human-machine interface design game with a closer approach to what consumers might find in Tesla models, the Porsche Taycan and the Rivian R1S and Rivian R1T.

Volkswagen ID 7 changes colors

Picture credits: Kirsten Korosec

The ID 7 sedan, previously shown as a concept vehicle in China as the ID Aero, is one of 10 new electric models that will go into production by 2026, according to Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars. The electric vehicle will be launched in China, Europe and North America.

Like its other ID siblings, the ID 7 is based on the MEB platform, a flexible modular system – effectively a matrix of common parts – that VW Group brands, including Audi, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen, use to improve the efficiency and profitability of producing EVs. The Volkswagen ID.3, an electric sedan sold only in Europe and the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV and ID.5, as well as various variants of the Audi Q4 e-tron are built on the MEB platform. By 2025, the automaker expects more than 80% to be.

The ID 7 has some notable changes and features worth noting, starting with a new interface on the car’s infotainment system. The central screen is larger at 15 inches. But more importantly, the way users will access and interact with on-screen functions has changed.

Climate functions are now prominently and permanently displayed at the bottom of the central infotainment screen. Top and top left is where the driver quickly accesses vehicle information and advanced driver assistance features.

Volkswagen ID 7 Cockpit

Picture credits: volkswagen

In what promises to be controversial in some automotive circles, VW has adopted a new climate control system that uses digitally controlled air vents similar to those fitted to Tesla vehicles. This means there are no more physical air vents that a driver or passenger can move to change the direction of the airflow. Instead, users can access voice commands or the central touchscreen to change the airflow direction.

The climate control system is also designed to be more intuitive. If a driver approaches the vehicle with their key, the system should activate and begin cooling the interior in hot weather or heating it when the temperature is colder.

Volkswagen is also trying to step up its natural language processing game. The company said users will be able to give specific verbal cues, like Hello Volkswagen, my hands are cold!”, and the system will respond by starting the heated steering wheel function and directing warm air to the driver’s hands.

Other additions and changes featured in the ID 7 include an augmented reality heads-up display and illuminated touch sliders at the bottom of the touchscreen.

VW ID 7 side view

Picture credits: volkswagen

The exterior design fits into VW’s current electric vehicle portfolio. The sedan has an aerodynamic front section and a roof that has a coupe-like slope towards the rear. The design, which can be difficult to discern amid the multi-colored camouflage camouflage, is designed to help both reduce power consumption and increase range, according to the company. The air intakes are located at the front, to guide air through them and over the sides of the vehicle to the rear, forming an air curtain, which calms the airflow over the sides of the vehicle .

The end result is an estimated range (according to the European ELTP cycle) of around 700 kilometers, or around 434 miles of range.

Learn more about CES 2023 on TechCrunch

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