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Rear of an Audi e-tron S Sportback.

We’ve driven a great many Audi models over the years, and to a one they have met and often far exceeded our expectations. That’s saying a lot since Audi is a premium brand and those expectations are set pretty high. Thus was our mindset as we did an initial walk-around of our Audi e-tron S Sportback test car before heading out on the road.

Stylish in its Navarra Blue metallic finish, this e-tron sports a subtly aggressive crossover profile that flows rearward in a sleek sportback design. This softens the expected SUV roofline while lending the influences of a coupe, with the rear finishing into an integrated spoiler. Up front is a stylized closed grille as one might expect of an electric vehicle, flanked by air ducts on either side and an aggressive headlamp design with distinctive running lights. Nicely sculpted sides with pronounced rocker panels complete the package. Charge ports are provided on either side of the car below the e-tron badging on the front fenders. An electronic pushbutton releases the panel, which swings down.

Audi e-tron S Sportback cabin.

A Well-Appointed Cabin

Inside the e-tron S Sportback is a well-designed and comfortable interior featuring grey Valcona leather with contrast stitching, nicely bolstered front seats, and elegant instrument panel accents. Driver information is presented in a fully-digital LCD instrument cluster featuring selectable Classic, Sport, and e-tron modes. A pair of flush, center-mounted touchscreens feature infotainment functions and controls. Below the lower screen is the start button and a cleverly-designed gear selector with a grip and thumb control.

This midsize SUV features plenty of interior space with welcome legroom and headroom, plus comfortable seating for rear passengers. Among the many conveniences afforded those in the rear are air conditioning and heating registers, plus a digital display at the rear of the center console that allows setting the desired temperature. Controls are also provided for rear seat heaters. Other niceties include pull-up window shades at each rear door window, a pair of rear map lights, and the functionality of 60/40 split folding rear seat backs for expanding cargo capacity.

Audi e-tron S Sportback rear seat.

Driving the Audi E-tron S Sportback

Driving the stylish and well-appointed electric e-tron S Sportback is satisfying and fun, with its three electric motors delivering great acceleration and bursts of speed on demand. These motors produce a combined 429 horsepower and 596 lb-ft torque, with a greater 496 horsepower and 718 lb-ft torque on tap during an available 8 second boost mode. This ups the ante considerably from the standard but still compelling two-motor e-tron Sportback, which features 402 horsepower/490 lb-ft torque in boost mode.

The e-tron’s ride is smooth and cornering responsive, with the car feeling well-planted as we powered through the curves on canyon roads. The cabin is quiet and well isolated from the road. If you’re inclined, as we were, you can adjust the degree of regenerative braking with paddles at either side of the steering wheel. This enables introducing greater levels of drag during coast-down while the motors generate increased electricity to feed back to the batteries. We appreciated the car’s head-up display that presents speed and posted speed limit information so eyes can remain on the road ahead. The e-tron S Sportback lends additional driving confidence since it’s also equipped with an array of the latest advanced safety and driver-assist systems.

Front detail of an Audi e-tron S Sportback electric car.

This Audi e-tron S is Fast

Performance is impressive. The e-tron S Sportback rockets to 60 mph from a standstill in a quick 4.3 seconds with boost mode selected. Its 95 kWh lithium-ion battery delivers an estimated 212 mile driving range, with EPA fuel efficiency estimates rating this electric car at 75 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent). A full charge is achieved with a 240-volt Level 2 charger in about 10 hours, while charging from 0 to 80 percent capacity takes just 30 minutes when charging at a public 150 kW DC fast charger.

Those in the market for Audi’s more performance-oriented e-tron S Sportback will find it coming in at an MSRP of $87,400, a $18,700 premium over the standard e-tron Sportback.

Dimitris Psillakis, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA

As the global automotive industry transitions to an electric future, Mercedes-Benz aims to become the most desired electric brand in the world. From 2025 onwards, all newly launched vehicle architectures will be electric-first, demonstrating Mercedes’ commitment to electrification and efforts to provide a variety of options to consumers. To refine this strategy, Mercedes recently announced ambitions to expand its luxury purchasing experience in addition to focusing on luxury automobiles.

We’re in a steady race to decarbonization. With that, we realize that there cannot be luxury in the future without sustainability. Now that we’ve made a full commitment to electric, surpassing milestones along the way, we are shifting capital allocation and engineering resources to the luxury segment because the demand is there. We are focused on bringing real value to our customers, dealer partners, and shareholders worldwide.

Mercedes-Benz will rebalance its product portfolio, allocating more than 75 percent of its investments to the most profitable market segments. Mercedes is transitioning from one electric vehicle line to a full lineup of vehicles focusing on three key product categories:high-end luxury, core luxury, and entry-level luxury. This increased focus on luxury products is reflective of our rising customer demand in these segments.

Our goal to go totally electric by 2030 – where market conditions permit – and become CO2-neutral by 2039 are key components in strengthening the link between luxury and sustainability. With a higher concentration on the top end of the market, Mercedes will generate a strong financial performance even under increasingly adverse market conditions. By the end of this decade, Mercedes aims to have reduced CO2 emissions per passenger car by half from 2020 levels. Electrifying the car fleet, charging with green energy, increasing battery technology, and a large use of recyclable materials and renewable energy in manufacturing are all important components in the overall electrification strategy.

The Customer is the Focal Point

Xray view of Mercedes-Benz EQS electric car.

Success in the future requires changes today. In order for this new portfolio approach to work, we recognize that the number-one component driving demand in luxurious mobility is digital and sustainable luxury. This is being defined by values and benefits that go beyond physical experiences. Customers seek and demand valuable resources such as time. As a result, everything is being viewed through the lens of innovation, addressing this urgent need of customer convenience. We’re making incredible progress on all fronts. And we’re doing it as a team.

We are committed to providing a superior customer experience that extends beyond traditional channels and senses. Mercedes-Benz has launched a brand-new effort as a result of this: "Customer First" – an all-new initiative designed to address overall brand perception issues, improve customer satisfaction, and drive loyalty by. Customer First will channel customer issues directly to an HQ Central Team for quick answers to questions and swift resolution of potential issues. This initiative is part of our commitment to deliver the best white-glove service possible.

Evolving for an Electric Future

Mercedes-Benz Vision AMG illustrates the company's electric future.

We’re also hard at work establishing new marketing and sales channels, both online and offline, to ensure a seamless consumer experience. The world is changing because of technology and we have to utilize its full potential to provide meaningful added value to our consumers. At every touchpoint, beginning with digital communication, the greatest user software offers high usability and an immersive customer experience. Additionally, Mercedes will begin combining equipment packages in an effort to simplify configuration and meet customer needs. The packages will be tailored to the tastes of customers and geographical demand, allowing for faster delivery.

For 130 years, Mercedes has placed emphasis on creating unforgettable brand experiences across all customer touch points inside and outside of the car. It’s important to us that customers are able to view a new vehicle in person, experience it with all of their senses, and drive it. We're excited to continue this good work, focusing on giving customers the unique Mercedes-Benz brand experience they demand and deserve.

Dimitris Psillakis is Head of Marketing and Sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars North America and CEO of MBUSA

Green Car Time Machine.

In the early 1990s, California took yet another leadership position in battling motor vehicle-related air pollution and mitigating fossil fuel use with its forward-thinking 1998 Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate. This mandate would require two percent of the new models for sale in California by the largest auto manufacturers to offer zero emissions in 1998, with larger percentages in future years. While this could potentially be achieved through any available means, it essentially meant the production and sale of battery electric vehicles. Environmentalists and many others were thrilled, while the auto industry in general was not. The result was an increasingly contentious fight to kill, preserve, or modify the mandate. Below is our special report detailing the siege of the state’s ZEV Mandate and an overview of the wave of activities taking place at the time. This report is presented just as it originally appeared in Green Car Journal’s April 1994 issue.

Excerpted from April 1994 Issue: Even as the U.S. Big Three automakers are lining up against the zero emission vehicle mandate, others within the automaking community are showing their support. An increasing number of noted automotive personalities are also becoming involved with electric cars as the pace of development picks up.

For example, Carroll Shelby, developer of the 1960s-era Shelby Cobras and former board member at EV powertrain company Unique Mobility, has shown an active interest in producing a hybrid electric vehicle. Other notables abound. Among them: Former General Motors chairman and CEO Robert Stempel, GM Hughes Aircraft chairman emeritus Malcolm Currie, and Malcolm Bricklin, importer of the Yugo subcompact and developer of the gull-wing exotic car that bore his name in the 1970s, among others.

Electric Vehicles on the Track

Former Indy, Can-Am, and Formula Atlantic drivers are taking their turn at the wheel of electrically-propelled race cars. Example: 1983 Indy 500 winner Tom Sneva raced at Arizona Public Service’s Electric 500 in Phoenix again this year, this time in an electrified 1993 Ford Probe. Auto magazine writers/race drivers like Motor Trend’s road test editor Mac DeMere have taken to the track in Formula Lightning electric race cars, bringing the potential of sharing their positive EV experience with millions of auto enthusiast readers.

Exercises in range and speed abound as performance benchmarks are sought for modern electric vehicles. One of the most significant to date was set just last month by GM’s Impact at the Fort Stockton Test Center’s 7.7 mile oval track in Texas. Running modified power electronics and high-speed Michelin tires, the Impact weighed in at 3,250 pounds once stripped of interior trim and fitted with a roll cage. It ran a United States Auto Club-sanctioned 183.075 mph over a timed mile to establish a record for EVs in the 2,205 pound and above category. Its unofficial international land-speed record remains subject to confirmation by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.

Far from being just an exercise in speed, this effort also helps further electric vehicle state-of-the-art, as is always the case in racing. “We wanted to find the vehicle’s top speed because we new it would provide us with real-world data on the car’s aerodynamics, the efficiency and durability of the propulsion system, and it would help us fine-tune the suspension,” offers Kenneth R. Baker, vice president of GM’s Research and Development Center.

ZEV Mandate Spurs Worldwide Effort

Performance milestones achieved since the California Air Resources Board announced its zero emission vehicle mandate in 1990 have been impressive. In 1991, an electric car called the IZA fielded by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Meidensha, and Tokyo R&D claimed a single-charge distance of 343 miles in Japan. This was achieved on a chassis dynamometer at a constant speed of 25 mph. In 1992, a Horlacher Sport EV powered by sodium-sulfur batteries ran 340 miles nonstop at an average of 74 mph in Switzerland. Also in 1992, a retrofitted Geo Metro powered by BAT Technology-prepared batteries and an Advanced D.C. Motors powertrain reportedly achieved a single-charge driving distance of 405 highway miles at an average of 43 mph in Utah.

This same year saw Dr. John Dunning and three associates at Delco Remy drive 631 miles in a 24 hour period behind the wheel of an electric Geo Storm in California. The car, outfitted with a GM Impact battery pack and electric drive system, achieved this milestone by alternating one-hour drives at better than 50 mph with one-hour charging sessions using a 7 kilowatt charger.

In early 1993, Chrysler made news with a 158 hour, 2,604 mile Detroit-to-Los Angeles trip in an electric TEVan while showcasing Chrysler/Norvik quick-charge technology. During this same time frame, Bill Roe set a new national closed-course one-mile oval speed record by breaking the 100 mph barrier in a Brawner Motorsport-prepared electric Lola Indy Car at the Solar & Electric 500 in Phoenix.

Battery Swaps and Fast Charging

The progression has continued in 1994. Roe eclipsed his own closed-course EV record recently at the APS Electric 500, piloting his Exide EX 11 electric IndyCar to a new national one lap record speed of 107.162 mph. And Diversified Technical Services’ Dan Parmley completed a record-breaking endurance run on Phoenix International Raceway’s one mile oval, driving 1,048.8 miles in 24 hours courtesy of 23 battery changeovers.

Battery swap at electric vehicle race.

Parmley’s effort supplanted an electric vehicle endurance record recently established by Solectria’s James Worden. Worden drove 831.8 miles on the 1,477 mile oval at Atlanta Motor Speedway to set a new 24 hour distance driving record in a lead-acid battery powered Chevy S-10 pickup. Sponsored by the Southern Coalition for Advanced Transportation, the truck’s batteries were recharged 13 times at 16 kWh by a fast-acting Electronic Power Technology charger, taking less than 20 minutes each time. It was driven an average of 59 miles between charges.

These efforts do prove what’s possible, but not necessarily what’s realistic for everyday drivers. It’s true that electric vehicles can be made to go very fast. They can accelerate just as quickly as most internal combustion engine cars. With a steady accelerator, a series of battery exchanges, or a healthy dose of quick charges, they can also travel very respectable distances. But at present they can’t do all of these at the same time.

ZEV Mandate Encourages Innovation

That’s sobering news, to be sure. But there are plenty of positives to recognize. Note the significant technology advancements made in just four short years of extensive EV development: Battery exchanges, an obscure concept when first voiced by industry experts, has proven viable in racing. Rapid recharging, which holds promise for overcoming the electric vehicle’s dependence on lengthy recharging sessions and unnecessary downtime, has also shown its promise in the lab, during demonstrations, and on the track. New battery technologies, most notably nickel-metal-hydride, are starting to prove their worth in real-world trials.

Perhaps most important is the promise shown by the advanced electric vehicles being fielded by U.S. automakers in limited numbers. Both the Ford Ecostar and Chrysler TEVan have demonstrated their viability as utility vehicles during test drives at the hands of Green Car Journal editors.

GM's Impressive Impact EV

But as an all-around technology statement, there’s nothing like GM’s Impact. GCJ editors have driven the Impact hard on highways in Michigan, finding it superb in every regard. It distinguishes itself not only as an excellent electric vehicle, but as a rather amazing automobile even when stacked up against its gasoline-powered peers.

The Impact’s technological innovations are many, ranging from an ultra-lightweight aluminum space frame with composite body panels to an innovative heat pump climate control system and blended regenerative anti-lock braking. Like GCJ editors, testers from publications like Motor Trend, Popular Science, and Popular Mechanics also found the Impact a testament to the viability of the electric car.

Public perception is also favorable. In fact, GM has had a substantially greater number of requests to participate in its Impact PrEView Drive than ever anticipated. In response to an announcement sent with utility bills in New York and Los Angeles, the automaker reportedly expected about 5,000 replies in each market. Instead, New York generated a list of 14,000 volunteers, and Los Angeles about 10,000 – far too many for the program.

Tech Advances Via ZEV Mandate

To be sure, the Big Three’s developmental EVs are just that: Examples of electric vehicle development…an engineering ‘snapshot’ of where ewe are now. Anyone who describes them otherwise is exploiting  these vehicles for their own aims, either pro or con. Their cost is very high due to their hand-built assembly and the exotic technologies employed. But they are functioning examples of what automakers can come up with when ‘encouraged’ by regulatory fiat. To think we would have done this far without a mandate in place is folly.

Many experts believe that California’s ZEV mandate has served not only as a motivator for the world’s automakers, but as a wake-up call for industry. Most of the players are involved not because they have to be, but because the electric vehicle field is perceived as being good business. That’s been the impetus for electric vehicle consortia like Calstart, Electricore, Southern Coalition for Advanced Transportation, Northeast Alternative Vehicle Consortium, Mid-America Electric Vehicle Consortium, and Hawaii’s Electric Vehicle Demonstration Project Consortium.

Electric vehicle drive system.

Emerging Opportunities for Suppliers

It's true that regulations now in place will require automakers to build and sell EVs. But that’s not the case with battery companies, electronics manufacturers, energy management specialists, tire manufacturers, engineering firms, composites manufacturers, aluminum companies, and many, many others. They’re on board because of emerging opportunities that will allow them to bring advanced transportation components to a new generation of energy efficient, more environmentally conscious automobiles. In their eyes, this will only take place if the California ZEV mandate survives the intensive automotive lobbying sure to take place in the months to come.

Momentum seems to be on the EV proponents’ side. The Ozone Transport Commission recently voted to adopt California’s low emission vehicle program in the Northeast, including requirements for zero-emission vehicles. On the heels of this decision came a California Assembly Transportation Committee hearing on Assembly Bill 2495, which would have prohibited the state from requiring ZEVs until battery technologies guaranteed arbitrary performance levels. This bill was heavily lobbied on both sides, then soundly defeated. The next round in this battle: Next month’s scheduled California Air Resources Board review of ZEV technologies and the feasibility of reaching the program’s goals. A full report to follow.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV charging.

Chevrolet’s Bolt EV, introduced as the industry’s first affordable long-range electric vehicle as a 2017 model, expanded its focus for the 2022 model year to include the Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle). This was a strategic move for the automaker as it provided buyers an additional choice for its popular Bolt electric vehicle, even as it was developing new models based on GM’s Ultium electric vehicle platform. Then disaster hit.

There were Bolt battery fires and the potential for others, so GM halted production and recalled each and every Chevy Bolt and Bolt EUV sold to fix the problem. This was no easy thing and the process has taken time, a significant hit to GM’s electric vehicle program and, no doubt, its pride. The fact that the battery defect was the fault of the Bolt’s battery supplier and not Chevrolet was small comfort, no doubt. Now that some 50 percent of the recalled Bolt battery packs have been replaced with the balance underway, there’s positive news: the Bolt is back in production.

Red badging on the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition.

New Redline Edition

Further good news is that with the 2023 model year, Chevy is stepping up the Bolt EUV’s sportiness with an available Redline Edition sport package. This Bolt EUV iteration is offered in black, white, and silver exterior choices accented with black and red Bolt EUV badging at the rear and red accents on the side mirrors. Gloss black 17-inch aluminum wheels with red accents complete the package. Those opting for the EUV with LT or Premier trims can also add black leather upholstery with red accent stitching.

While Chevy aimed to categorize its Bolt EV a crossover back at its launch five years ago, we said then that its dimensions and style really made it a five-door hatchback from our perspective. Strategically, the automaker ventured further into the crossover space with its bigger EUV sibling. The Bolt EUV features somewhat larger dimensions compared to the original Bolt with six inches greater length and three inches of additional legroom, in a package that remains easy to maneuver and park in crowded urban spaces.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV charge port.

Different than Bolt EV

While there is an extremely close family resemblance between the Bolt and Bolt EUV and they do share the same architecture, there are no sheetmetal panels common between the two. A close look shows Chevy SUV styling cues like a crease line running up the center of the front fascia and along the hood. Subtle but distinct design elements that differentiate the Bolt EUV from the Bolt EV include a larger opening below the closed grille area on the Bolt EUV along with more pronounced sculpting along the wheel well arches, plus angular lines and a slightly beefier look at the rear to support the EUV’s sport utility persona.

Power in both models is provided by a 200 horsepower electric motor driving the front wheels, which delivers 0-60 acceleration in an estimated 7.0 seconds. Energy comes from a 65 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with thermal management to keep it at optimum operating temperature. This combination allows the Bolt EUV to deliver an EPA estimated 247 miles of range. The EUV is fast-charge capable and can add 95 miles of range in a half-hour at a public fast charge station.

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition interior.

A More Refined Interior

The Bolt EUV’s interior, like that of the Bolt EV, is a bit more refined and high tech than that of the previous model year Bolt. Along with the 8-inch configurable gauge cluster at the driver’s position, there’s a 10.2-inch color infotainment touchscreen neatly integrated into the center of the instrument panel. Shifting is now done through electronic gearshift controls located at the lower left of the center console that use pushbuttons and pull toggles. The car’s Regen on Demand function, which controls the degree of energy regeneration and drag during coast-down, is literally at the driver’s fingertips with a convenient steering wheel paddle. Adjusting to a higher level of regen makes ‘one pedal driving’ possible, with little use of the brakes under certain driving conditions.

Bolt EUV features Chevy Safety Assist as standard equipment. Among the desired driver assist technologies included are Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and Front Pedestrian Braking. Other systems like Adaptive Cruise Control are also available. No doubt, the biggest news in the way of advanced electronics is the Bolt EUV’s availability of GM’s vaunted Super Cruise. Initially offered in GM’s luxury Cadillac brand, Bolt EUV features the first use of this highly-acclaimed, hands-free driving assistance technology in a Chevrolet model. Base price for the current year Bolt EV is $32,495 with the EUV coming in at $34,495. Pricing for 2023 models has not yet been announced.

Paying today’s crazy-high gas prices bring on some pretty serious reactions and a certain amount of denial. Many wonder when this will end. Some get angry. Others suck it up and just pay the price, figuring it will return to a reasonable cost at some point. Many are considering electric cars for the first time. But what can you do about it right now to cut your gas bill, in real time, with the car you’re driving?

The thought of boycotting your local gas stations is a pleasant thought but won’t work unless you’re already driving electric. You still need to get the kids to school, go grocery shopping, and get business done. You need some real options that make sense and can be done pretty easily.

Here are some strategies that come to mind. None involve dumping your car and getting a new one. We know that’s not always possible, especially today with unreasonably high car prices due to current conditions. You need to keep driving your everyday ride but just have to do something about the high gas costs that are wrecking your budget. So, consider giving these tips a shot.

YOUR ACTION PLAN

1. Start here: Don’t drive as much. Really, this isn’t as painful as it sounds. We’ve grown accustomed to our cars providing mobility on demand. That’s  a good thing when it isn’t hurting our wallets or contributing to growing oil dependency. It’s not so good today. So plan ahead. Combining your day’s errands into sequential trips one after another is a great strategy. This is an easy way to save fuel, cut your gas bill, and lessen your carbon footprint. It will also decrease tailpipe emissions by eliminating unnecessary cold-starts when your car’s emissions control system is least effective.

2. Ease off on the pedal. Okay, maybe you’re not really hot rodding your way down the street. But chances are good you’re not thinking about taking it easy from one traffic light to the next. Light accelerator pressure and a conscious effort to avoid quick starts and stops do make a difference in fuel economy, sometimes a pretty big one. Give it a try. While you’re at it, smooth out your pedal pressure at highway speeds as well by using your cruise control whenever appropriate.

3. Feeling the need for speed? Let it go. It’s easy to creep past posted speed limits without thinking about it. That’s especially on urban highways where traffic often tends to move well beyond 65 mph. We’ve found some freeways regularly flowing at 80 mph and sometimes more. The problem is that fuel efficiency diminishes rapidly above 60 mph. The EPA points out that each 5 mph driven above that speed has the net effect of costing you about 20 cents more per gallon.

Filling up with gasoline.

4. Do you need premium? If you’re filling up on mid-grade or premium fuel, check to see if you really need to do this. Some high-compression engines do require higher octane fuel to run properly. In fact, serious engine damage could result from using a lower grade fuel than is specified in your owner’s manual. But if you don’t need premium fuel you shouldn’t be filling up with it. Premium fuel costs about 20 to 40 cents more per gallon but doesn’t provide better performance in engines designed to run on regular. If you’re fueling up with premium and don’t need to, you’re essentially pumping cash out your tailpipe. Not a pleasant thought, is it?

MORE MONEY SAVING TIPS

5. Pressure can be a good thing. Check your tire pressure weekly and keep your tires aired up to the recommended psi. This is so simple you’d assume everyone does this regularly. Not so. And that’s too bad since tires with low pressure create greater rolling resistance that can cost you up to 3 percent in fuel efficiency. Tires heat up while you drive, so checking pressure while hot will give an artificially high reading. Make a habit of checking tire pressure before driving when your tires are cold. You might also consider buying more fuel efficient low rolling resistance tires the next time your car is ready for new treads.

Tire pressure is important for best mpg.

6. Cash or card? This is an obvious one. Gas stations typically have prices posted for regular, mid-grade, and premium fuel. Two sets of prices are often shown, one for cash and one for credit/debit cards. You’ll often note that the cash price is significantly lower, often 20 cents per gallon less than if you use a card. So, you know what to do.

7. Shop around. Like any business, gas stations have competition. It’s often the case that gas prices can vary by as much as 50 cents per gallon, maybe more in a geographical area. We’re not suggesting that you waste gas by trolling for the lowest price, but do pay attention to posted prices as you go about your daily drives. You’ll see which stations tend to offer the lowest gas prices. One of the best ways to price shop is with a free service like GasBuddy that allows you to search online for your area’s lowest gas prices. Make the process even easier by downloading the app so you can check on price fluctuations on your phone whenever it’s convenient during your travels.

VW ID.4 electric car at charger.

Manufactured in Tennessee on Volkswagen’s MEB modular world electric car platform, the 2021 VW ID.4 presents a new and compelling all-electric SUV that enters a segment presently dominated by Tesla, Chevrolet, and a select few others. What ID.4 brings to the battery electric SUV segment that Tesla doesn’t is price, coming in at a base cost of $39,995, some $10,000 less than Tesla’s Model Y.

For this, electric vehicle buyers get SUV hatchback utility, three-foot legroom in all seating positions, and ample luggage capacity for 5 adults. VW estimates ID.4 driving range at 250 mile on a full charge, and additionally points out that an additional 60 miles of range is attainable in just 10 minutes from a public DC quick-charge station.

Powertrain and Battery Module

Sporting a stature similar to that of Honda’s CR-V, the Volkswagen ID.4 rides on a steel-framed architecture featuring strut-like front suspension and multi-link suspension with coil-over shocks at the rear. This, combined with a long wheelbase and short overhangs, promises a smooth ride dynamic. Braking is handled by front disk and rear drum brakes.

A single permanent magnet, synchronous electric motor directs power to the rear wheels. The ID.4 produces 201 horsepower and 228 lb-ft torque that’s expected to deliver a 60 mph sprint in about 8 seconds. Electricity to power the motor is provided by an air-cooled, frame-integrated 82 KWh lithium-ion modular cell battery. An onboard 11KW charger enables three charge modes via standard 110-volt household power, 220-volt Level 2 charging, or DC fast charging. Typical charging with a home wall charger or public Level 2 charger will bring a full charge in 6 to 7 hours.

Volkswagen ID.4 interior.

ID.4 Controls and Features

A minimalistic yet futuresque cabin with segment leading cabin volume rounds out ID.4’s architecture. Features include a driver-centric, touch sensitive steering wheel and a view-forward 5.3-inch ID information center that replaces conventional gauges. Vehicle operation is through steering wheel-mounted switches, with infotainment, climate control, device connectivity, navigation, and travel information accessed through a 10.3 inch touchscreen monitor. A 12 inch monitor is available with the model’s Statement Package.

Topping the list of features is expanded voice command and a communicative dash-integrated ID light bar. ‘Intuitive Start’ driver key fob recognition enables pre-start cabin conditioning capability. Base model upholstery is ballistic cloth with leatherette seat surfaces optional.

Volkswagen’s IQ Drive driver assist and active safety suite features travel assist, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, front and rear sensors, emergency assist, blinds spot monitoring, rear traffic watch and more. All this comes standard along with Pro Navigation, a heated steering wheel and front seats, wireless phone charging, and app connectivity for compatible devices. 

Two ID.4 Trim Levels Offered

The ID.4 EV is available in six colors and two trim levels, Gradient and Statement, for personalization. The optional Gradient package features a black roof, silver roof trim, silver accents, and silver roof rails along with 20-inch wheels to complete the upscale look. Looking forward, while rear-wheel drive is the choice today, Volkswagen is already talking up an all-wheel drive variant for early 2021 along with a lower-priced base model. 

As the world’s largest automotive group, Volkswagen has the capacity to change the ever-expanding electric-car landscape. Looking at the style and utility of VW’s all-new ID.4, you can sense the renewed “people’s car” direction of the brand that accompanies the automaker’s commitment to electrification. VW says it’s aiming at selling 20 million electric cars based on the MEB electric car platform by model year 2029. Certainly, the potential for selling in truly significant numbers is reinforced by ID.4 pre-orders selling-out in just weeks, it’s safe to say.