Volkswagen (VW) is bringing its first dedicated all-electric vehicle to the US market in 2021 with the ID.4. The ID.4 is intended to be a mass-market vehicle for VW, targeting the lucrative and growing market of compact SUVs. During the reveal event seen below VW emphasized the towing capabilities of the ID.4 at 2,700 lbs. So how does the ID.4 compare to other electric tow cars? VW has stated the ID.4 is not intended to compete with the Tesla Model Y, being a cheaper alternative to the Tesla, but is that really the case?
Key VW ID.4 Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 2,700 lbs (AWD variants only)
- Availability – Mid 2021
- Price – Starting $43,675 (AWD Pro) > $48,175 (AWD Statement)
- Range – 250 miles (VW estimate)
- Estimated Towing Range (50%) – 125 miles
- Maximum Charge Rate – 125 kW (Compatible DC Fast Charger)
VW ID.4 HP & Torque
- AWD Pro – AWD with 302 HP, torque output currently unknown
VW ID.4 Towing Capabilities
I want to point out that are cheaper variants of the ID.4 coming which I have not listed above. The reason being, I specifically want to focus on electric cars which can tow, and as far as I can tell, the RWD variant of the ID.4 has not been given a tow rating, though some media outlets seem to be implying as such. However, I spent some time browsing VW.com on the ID.4 order page and it does appear only AWD versions will be offered with an official tow rating from VW.
Granted, as stated in the screenshot from the VW website above, specifications may change. Therefore, if VW does give the cheaper/RWD versions of the ID.4 a tow rating, either the 2,700 lbs of the Pro AWD versions or below, I’ll update this page to reflect that. That aside, it is good to see that VW has considered to the towing capabilities the car can provide, and towing was featured quite prominently in the reveal event seen below.
So if you weren’t aware, in 2015 VW dropped a boo-boo and got caught up in the Dieselgate debacle, not being entirely honest with test results on the emissions their internal combustion engine cars were producing. I should state, VW were/are not the only car manufacturer to have tried such misleading efforts.
The reason I bring up Dieselgate is really that’s the reason the ID.4 and other MEB platform based VW electric cars are coming onto the market now. Sure, VW like other established automobile manufacturers would have eventually got into the electric car game. Let’s just say that Dieselgate (and regulators) gave them a bit of a push to get going with their EV program sooner rather than later.
Old Habits Die Hard
What did amuse me watching the ID.4 reveal was before VW started to discuss the all-electric ID.4 they spent the time to promote their internal combustion compact SUV Atlas with one of their ‘brand ambassadors’. Explaining how great a V6 engined crossover is during the global reveal to tell everyone VW is serious about EV’s just made me laugh.
Don’t get me wrong, VW is now serious about EV’s and they are putting huge amounts of money into EV research/development and manufacturing. It’s just when I watched that promotion of the V6 Atlas, I thought to my self, ‘old habits die hard’.
VW ID.4 Competition (As An Electric Tow Car)
Now, in the reveal event, VW was very keen to point out that the ID.4 is ‘best in class’, making reference to several ICE compact SUVs from Toyota, Honda etc. Furthermore, they made no comparisons/references to any other electric vehicle, and VW has implied the ID.4 is not intended to compete against the Tesla Model Y, a fellow all-electric hatchback which can tow.
VW would state that the ID.4 may not have the range/features of the Tesla Model Y because its a cheaper more affordable car, which is true, sort of. Again, I’m focusing on this from a towing perspective, therefore I’m not referring to the cheapest versions of the ID.4. I’m interested in that 2,700 lb towing capacity currently only found on the AWD versions.
So if we look at the ID.4 AWD Pro, that has a starting price of $43,675. Well, the Tesla Model Y Long Range starts at $49,990. The ID.4 AWD Pro has its towing capacity of 2,700 lbs and an estimated range towing of around 125 miles (50% guestimate).
The Tesla Model Y Long-Range can tow 3,500 lbs and has an estimated range towing of around 156 miles (50% guestimate). Therefore, the Model Y would appear to be in competition with the ID.4 right? Well, not currently as you’ll see below, but in the coming years if the ID.4 sells well it might be.
The Federal Tax Incentive (VW Gets It, For Now, But Tesla Lost It)
The price you pay for a Tesla today is pretty much as stated, minus any local tax/regional tax incentives/discounts. However, before 2019 you used to be able to get a $7,500 federal tax incentive discount on a Tesla. However, since Tesla has now sold over 200,000 pure electric cars customers have lost that associated cost reduction (see here). However, as VW is relatively new to the EV game, customers of the ID.4 will benefit from the $7,500 federal tax credit.
Though, just like Tesla, as soon as VW passes that 200,000 EV’s customers will lose access to that discount. As VW intends the ID.4 to be a mass-market car, they could potentially pass the 200,000 mark within just a few years. At that point, if the pricing of both the ID.4 and the Tesla Model Y remained as they are now they would be in direct competition as an electric tow car.
Then again, I wouldn’t necessarily expect the price of the VW ID.4 or Tesla Model Y to remain static. As both companies scale up production and gain cost reductions from economies of scale, both vehicles could see price reductions potentially. In the coming years, we should also see more competition in the compact electric SUV market that can also tow. Hence, interesting times are ahead.
First Impressions Of The VW ID.4
Once the ID.4 is in the hand’s of customers/automotive journalists I’ll share those impressions on the ID.4. I’m obviously hoping once the ID.4 AWD Pro hits the streets we’ll have some people trying its towing performance and providing feedback on battery consumption. Until that time, I wanted to reference some of the first early impressions of the ID.4 from resources I rate. First off is a preview video from Kelley Blue Book who got to see the ID.4 in person for the first time in September 2020.
As the preview above notes, while the ID.4 does not feature a front storage compartment like many dedicated EV’s or ‘frunk’ if you will, that does come with the benefit of a larger interior cabin. Indeed, the amount of interior space available inside the ID.4 does definitely appear to be one of its strong points.
The second video I want to share is from Fully Charged who produce some of the highest quality YouTube content specifically focused on electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies. Chelsea Sexton a contributor to Fully Charged has a long history with EV’s, I’d encourage you to watch Who Killed the Electric Car to understand why. Anyway, Chelsea got to see and importantly drive the VW ID.4 in person and ask questions directly to VW about the car.
The topics brought up in the Fully Charged preview of the ID.4 are what I’ve discussed above. Hence, VW does not intend the ID.4 to be competition for Tesla, and if you do want an ID.4 you may want to try and get one before the Federal Tax Incentive runs out. Interestingly, ID.4 owners will benefit from 3 years of free fast charging from the Electrify America charging network. Which, when towing as you will need to charge more often at the fastest speeds possible would come in handy.
My Thoughts On The VW ID.4…
First off, competition is good, plain and simple. While Tesla may currently lead the game when it comes to electric vehicles, there is a lot that VW can bring to the table to compete. Large scale vehicle manufacturing and quality control are hard things to master as Tesla is now finding out. VW does have the experience to bring electric cars to the masses.
That being said, and while VW doesn’t really appear to want the ID.4 to be compared against the Tesla Model Y, when it comes to electric tow cars they really are closely comparable once that Federal Tax Incentive runs out as things stand. When it comes to towing, the ID.4 is projected to be down on power, range and charging rate against the Tesla Model Y. However, if when the Federal Tax Incentive runs out VW can significantly lower the cost of the ID.4 it could very well be a very good entry-level/affordable electric tow car.