As Jennifer Sensiba just wrote earlier today, a well known YouTuber recently took a Volkswagen ID.4 on a road trip and came out of it with a lot of gripes. Volkswagen, incidentally, has a cross-country road trip planned for the ID.4 this weekend to show how easy a long road trip can be in the ID.4. The 6,000 mile road trip begins tomorrow morning in New York City. Will they have a much different experience and come to different conclusions?
The ID.4 1st Edition and Pro S models that are coming to market first are not the longest range electric vehicles on the market, but their 250 mile range rating is certainly plenty of range to do typical daily commuting a few days a week before charging up. However, a road trip is a different story. Is it really convenient and easy to make a cross-country trip in a non-Tesla EV with 250 miles of range at this point? Volkswagen of America’s Director of e-Mobility will certainly try to show us that it is.
Personally, I don’t have an opinion either way, as 1) I haven’t tried that, and 2) it really depends a great deal on the route you’d like to take and if there are reliable ultrafast chargers planted at good intervals along that path. YMMV, as they say. My mom has taken trips from Southwest Florida to North Carolina and back in a 70-mile BMW i3 with a small gasoline range extender that adds 60 miles of range several times — not the most convenient trip, but doable. With a 250-mile EV like the ID.4, it seems like that would be a fairly simple vehicular hike. However, if you’ve got the wrong chargers or long gaps anywhere along your desired route, there’s no doubt you’re going to need to spend much more time on the trip and may have to make some serious detours. Again, it depends on where you’re going.
There is really no doubt that the Volkswagen crew will plan this trip out meticulously to make the ID.4 look good. That’s their job. Let’s just hope the trip aligns with the reality of many normal drivers.
There’s also the question of whether they will run into technical challenges at any stations. This is not uncommon, unfortunately. The EV charging networks seem to be improving, but I’m yet to experience or hear of anything being anywhere close to the convenience of the Tesla Supercharger network on a long trip. That said, the ID.4 + Electrify America + EVgo combo is looking better and better month after month, and I am genuinely very interested to see what Volkswagen shares about its coming road trip. Even better if they put some stuff up live! Though, I assume that’s not happening since it wasn’t mentioned in the news release.
Notably, this cross-country road trip is not a cannonball attempt. The drivers are going to take their time and enjoy the scenery. They are going to go down from NYC into the US South before crossing the country, and they intend to spend 18 days on the journey. It sounds like fun and I’d love to join, but it’s clear that they aren’t planning to demonstrate how quickly an ID.4 can hop from state to state — just that it can.
Interestingly, the team also wants to show that a long road trip in an ID.4 can be cheap — a great selling point. “We’re excited to get on the road and show the true capability of the ID.4,” said Dustin Krause, Director, e-Mobility, Volkswagen of America. “Range anxiety is a thing of the past and this drive is proving that not only is long-distance driving an easy task, but it’s also affordable. Each 2021 ID.4 comes with three years of DC fast charging at each of Electrify America’s 550+ stations across the U.S. at no additional charge.”
If you want to try to meet up with the team anywhere along the route, perhaps you can connect with them at one of these stopping points:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Orleans
- El Paso
- San Diego
Just remember that road trip infrastructure isn’t static. Whereas the Electrify America network has 550 charging stations and more than 2,400 DC fast chargers in place right now, it had zero of each a few years ago and it will reportedly have 800 charging stations and more than 3,500 DC fast chargers by the end of 2021. That’s a lot of growth in a short period of time.
How do you think the trip will go?
Road Trips vs. Road Trips
Let me take a moment here to emphasize that I’m not a “range snob” or a “charging snob.” I can definitely recognize that a ton of EV buyers put high range and ultrafast charging at the top of their lists of requirements, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you just need to think about your own situation and desires and shouldn’t spend more money than needed for extra range you simply don’t need.
The reality is: some people like to drive coast to coast across the Rockies, while others don’t intend to leave the neighborhood except when they’re forced to, and most of us are probably in between — doing regional trips once in a while but seldom driving on long road trips. No matter which scenario fits you, the point is just to understand what you want in a car and how to achieve that.
In the meantime, let’s see how this road trip looks from Volkswagen’s polished perspective and let’s see what other independent road trip reviews pop up.
Volkswagen ID.4 Pricing
Before we leave this topic, though, we should probably cover one of the core questions buyers would have about this new vehicle model. How much does an ID.4 cost in the US? Are we talkin’ Cadillac Escalade prices or competition for a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V.
The starting price (MSRP) for an ID.4 in the United States is $39,995, before the $7,500 US federal tax credit. That’s about as good as it gets for a vehicle with that range and size in the United States. In fact, I challenge you to find me a $32,500 EV that has better range, passenger & cargo space, charging capability, and modern niceties.
You can reserve an ID.4 with a $100 fully refundable deposit if the ID.4 entices you.