Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept Preview

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Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept

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Looks like: A shapely four-door coupe with ridiculously big wheels

Defining characteristics: A rolling light show of winking, moving, color-shifting LEDs

Ridiculous features: The LED "light blind" that changes opacity and mood color with hand gestures

Chance of being mass-produced: VW says a production version will be out by 2020

Volkswagen continues its march toward an electric vehicle future with the debut of the I.D. Crozz SUV concept at the 2017 Shanghai auto show, following the unveiling this auto show season of the I.D. sedan in Paris in September and the I.D. Buzz van in Detroit in January.

Related: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Review: Photo Gallery

Turning its "clean" efforts to electrics in a big way, the company has promised five new EVs within a few years and more than 30 new electrics by 2025.

"By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to one million units a year. The I.D. Crozz will play a key role in that. Production will start in 2020," said Herbert Diess, chairman of the VW brand's board of management, in a statement.

The three I.D. concepts share VW's new Modular Electric Drive vehicle platform, and this one is aimed to satisfy the market demand in the U.S., Europe and China for SUVs. Conceptually, the Crozz seems to take direct aim at Tesla's Model X in its capabilities.   

The I.D. Crozz is powered by a pair of electric motors: a 201-horsepower motor in the rear doing the bulk of the work in most situations, and a 101-hp motor on the front axle that adds power and traction as needed. VW says the system also can be set to full-time all-wheel drive in slippery conditions.

The Crozz is a long-range SUV with a hefty 83-kilowatt-hour battery arrayed skateboard-style under the interior floor. VW estimates range at 311 miles on the more generous European testing cycle, but by U.S. standards range still would likely be competitive with at least the current Model X's 237 to 289 miles, depending on the version. An 80 percent charge can be had with a 150-kilowatt DC fast charger.

VW says the crossover has the interior space of the 2018 Tiguan for the U.S. in a package 3 inches shorter, about 2 inches lower and about 2 inches wider. Rear access is through the hatchback and minivan-like rear sliding doors. As is popular with show cars, but unlikely to show up in production, there is no B-pillar so there is open exposure of the interior when the front and rear doors are open.

The showtime features of the Crozz don't stop there, however. It's fully autonomous in I.D. Pilot mode. When activated, the steering wheel retracts and lighted laser scanners pop up on the roof to augment the ultrasonic and radar sensors, and side and front cameras. Meanwhile, the interior ambient lighting shifts to a restful "magenta-violet" glow.

Exterior LED lighting features and accents change based on the speed and action of the vehicle and what's going on around it, starting with waking up and greeting you when you approach. But perhaps the signature lighting feature is a virtual "light blind" for the panoramic moonroof. It is composed of LED strips that open, move and close entirely by gesture control. They also create ambient lighting visible inside and out.

And noteworthy for China's notorious air pollution: VW claims that thanks to the cabin's CleanAir system, "I.D. Crozz can be driven through the center of Shanghai with air quality like that in the Himalayas."

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D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks.  Email Fred

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