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The Volksagen ID.4, a new all-electric compact SUV.

Courtesy of manufacturer

Volkswagen introduced its all-electric compact SUV/crossover this week, and acknowledged it is the most important new vehicle from the German maker in years.

“The ID.4 represents so much more than just a new SUV,” said Pierre Boutin, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group Canada Inc. “It represents concrete evidence that we are well on the way to significant transformation of our company, and it represents the very future of our company.”

The ID.4 is the first North American vehicle with Volkswagen’s new MEB platform and its new battery system. There is already a smaller ID.3 hatchback in Europe, which might come to Canada one day, but the ID.4 SUV will be sold here in early summer of next year.

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Volkswagen says the ID.4 is “the point of the spear” for the company, which has committed to introducing 75 all-electric models across all its brands by 2029. It’s part of a €33-billion investment to reduce the automaker’s carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2025. By 2050, the entire Volkswagen Group intends to be carbon-neutral around the world.

Most important, this is a massive mea culpa for the company after being caught cheating and polluting in the “dieselgate” scandal of 2015.

The German automaker says the ID.4 is the 'point of the spear' in its push for electrification.

Courtesy of manufacturer

The ID.4 will have an estimated range of “more than 400 kilometres.” Volkswagen Canada refused to comment on its pricing so far ahead of its availability, but prices were announced in the U.S. for American vehicles, where a limited edition of the SUV will be sold later this year and more generally next spring.

In the United States, the rear-wheel-drive version of the ID.4 lists for US$39,995, and the all-wheel drive version that will be sold later in the year lists for US$43,695. Each version will have a basic trim at those prices, and then an upgraded Statement edition for each with larger wheels, a panoramic sunroof, two-tone paint and various other options.

With this as a guide, it’s fair to assume the most basic ID.4 will be sold in Canada for less than $50,000, before possible provincial rebates. The current federal rebate of $5,000 applies to compact electric vehicles that cost no more than $45,000. Volkswagen will likely do all it can to come in below the federal cut-off price, though rebate prices tend to be fluid.

In Volkswagen’s words, it intends to make electric vehicles “for the millions, not the millionaires.”

Arrangements are being made to provide free charging for all ID.4s in Canada at Electrify Canada’s public charging stations as part of the sale price. The details are not yet firm, but VW Canada says the deal should last for at least two years. In the United States, ID.4s can charge for free at Electrify America sites for the first three years, though in practice, most charging will take place at home, overnight.

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Orders are already being accepted in the United States, but there will be no pre-orders in Canada. There will be limited quantities for the first year or so, focused first in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, because all the initial ID.4s will be built at VW’s plant in Zwickau, Germany. In 2022, however, assembly will move to Chattanooga, Tenn., with the batteries made in Georgia, and the price should drop as the vehicles become more plentiful.

As well, there will be a choice of battery size and range once production is moved to the United States, but for now, only the one size will be available.

Volkswagen claims the ID.4 will have a range of 'more than 400 kilometres.'

Courtesy of manufacturer

The all-new 82 kWh battery (with 77 kWh of useable capacity) that powers the ID.4 will be made of 288 cells in 12 modules, which will be mounted under the floor of the SUV and will make the chassis very stiff, with a low centre of gravity. It has a base plate with integrated cooling. “This will allow us to much better manage the temperature of the battery through a range of extreme external temperatures, which in turn lets us better manage the vehicle’s range and performance,” says a VW spokesperson.

The ID.4 will be capable of charging at a 125 kW DC fast charger from 5 per cent to 80 per cent in 38 minutes. The RWD edition will have the equivalent of 201 hp with a zero-to-96 km/h acceleration of 7.8 seconds, while the AWD will create 302 hp with acceleration of 5.8 seconds. The AWD will also be capable of towing 2,700 pounds.

The car itself will have a very low drag co-efficient of 0.28, making it more slippery through the air, improving its range and performance.

In Canada, the ID.4 will be equipped with a standard heat pump that uses a new refrigerant to reduce the thermal load on the battery and improve the driving range. This will not be available in the U.S. Canadian vehicles will also be fitted with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel as standard features, as well as a heated windshield.

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Inside, there will be 858 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 1,818 litres when the split rear seats are folded flat. In comparison, the VW Tiguan compact SUV has 1,064 litres of space behind the rear seats and 2,081 when the seats are folded flat. The ID.4 will have a tighter turning circle than the Tiguan; the lack of a bulky engine between the front wheels allows for greater movement within the wheel wells.

Volkswagen Canada says the ID.4 has no competition as an all-electric compact SUV, though many automakers have upcoming vehicles in the works. There are already similar-sized offerings from luxury makers, including the Tesla Model Y ($69,990), Audi e-tron ($90,000) and Jaguar I-Pace ($89,800), which are all considerably more expensive than the expected price of the ID.4.

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