Volkswagen's electric future: new ID.4 and more
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One by one, carmakers are announcing their gas-to-electric switch. German automaker Volkswagen used creativity for their announcement, which garnered a lot of attention; Voltswagen - the fictional name change that was “leaked” on March 30th, 2021. The supposed name change was meant to signal VW’s commitment to electrification, and while the name change is not legitimate, it certainly got people talking.
Although the name change is not sticking, The Volkswagen Group’s electric car commitment is. It was solidified by CEO Herbert Diess at their first Power Day Event, where they announced their future electric plans along with introduction of the ID.4 electric car for U.S. markets.
In this article, we will review VW’s new electric car which is available for pre-order, what other electric vehicles VW offers, and why the company itself is investing in battery technology.
The ID.4 will be the first all-electric Volkswagen model sold in the United States. Image source: VW.com
Volkswagen is a powerhouse car manufacturer in Europe, where they have been long-producing and selling all-electric vehicles to satisfy the early adoption of EVs. But now that the United States is starting to embrace electric cars, VW is releasing their new car, the ID.4 crossover electric SUV, for U.S. consumers.
There are two ID.4 models available for pre-order: the Pro and the First Edition. The ID.4 Pro is currently priced starting at $39,995. The First Edition model starts at $43,995 and differs from the Pro mostly in aesthetics, with things like silver roof nails and a panoramic fixed glass roof.
With a 77 kWh lithium-ion battery, the ID.4 offers an impressive 260 miles of range with a fully-charged battery. Additionally, you can have a plug-in location at your home to charge your car or it can be charged up to 60 miles in 10 minutes at a fast charging station.
In keeping with their green commitment, VW is planning ahead by determining the best ways to recycle the car battery packs that their future fleet of electric cars will produce.
Currently, the new ID.4 is only available to reserve for future shipping. The first pre-ordered ID.4 cars were shipped to the U.S. in early March of 2021, and you can now reserve your own model and track it from the factory to your local dealer.
Fortunately, most dealers will have an ID.4 available for a test drive so you can try out the all-wheel drive and the promise of fast torque, yet quiet electric motor, before you pre-order. However, they have not specified which model will be available to take for a spin.
The popular VW microbus is getting an electric makeover. Image source: VW.com
VW has some ID electric cars available in Europe, but the future ID car models will be powered by VW’s MEB modular EV architecture. MEB modular architecture is meant to enhance the cars’ performance with a plan to reach 500 kilometers on one charge.
The most exciting electric cars are those that are planned for future release, called their “electric concept vehicles”. The concept vehicle lineup includes the Volkswagen electric bus, an updated version of their iconic van. The Volkswagen electric van will be known as the ID.BUZZ and will begin production for European markets in 2022.
Additionally, VW introduced their plans to create an all-electric sedan, known as the Trinity. The plan is to launch the car in 2026, but the features are a bit vague. The Trinity will also use MEB architecture and hope to “set new standards for charge times” and battery range.
None of those goals are laid out clearly but we will be on the lookout for future key updates, especially because VW is investing heavily in battery technology.
Volkswagen has made its e-mobility goals known, hoping to rival Elon Musk and Tesla in the race to electrify America. To do this, they need to ensure that they have affordable car options in addition to luxury models, and the thing that makes electric cars more expensive than traditional cars are their batteries, which are expensive to source material for and build.
To help lower this cost, VW is going to build battery factories within Europe, starting in Salzgitter, Germany, to increase battery production. These plants intend to meet VW’s goal of reducing the cost of batteries by 50% at the end of the decade.
In addition to enhanced battery production, VW will add charging stations throughout Europe, the U.S., and China to ensure consumers have access to a charger for their VW wherever they drive.
Volkswagen is hinging their future on the successful expansion of electric vehicles, electric charging infrastructure, and reduced battery prices. Perhaps this is a move simply to get ahead of the market shift toward electric, or as a response to the pandemic economic woes and an attempt to gain trust after the gas combustion engine emissions scandal, known colloquially as “Dieselgate”.
After all, switching to emissions-less cars will help bolster a new face for the company, even if “Voltswagen” won’t be a part of that new face.
There are now so many electric cars to choose from that it seems like you can just pick an electric car version of the car you currently have, from General Motors, to Volvo, to Nissan. So if you like Volkswagen, go ahead and pre-order a Volkswagen ID.4. VW cars are a good choice for commuting and are in a pretty manageable price range.
Since VW is new to the U.S. electric car market, if you want an electric car now, it’ll be easier to buy a Tesla, Porsche, or Audi. Personally, I am looking forward to the day I can replace my finicky gas-powered VW with an alternate electric car brand.
To help charge your electric car as cheaply as possible, consider installing solar panels to keep your electric bill close to $0 even when charging an electric car.
Some solar installers use inflated estimates of utility price growth to make it seem like savings will be higher than they likely will. It’s time to stop.