Volkswagen ID.4 versus Tesla Y: Did the Empire Strike Back?

The Volkswagen ID.4 was unveiled today. The base price is $40,000. After middle-class taxpayers work a few extra months to subsidize the rich with a $7,500 tax credit, for which Teslas are no longer eligible, the vehicle will cost only about half as much as a slightly pimped-out Tesla Y.

Although the VW does not have as large a charging network as Tesla, presumably, charging is free for three years.

Car and Driver says that the price will come down to $36,000 in 2022 when production comes to Tennessee. This can’t be good for predicted resale value! And, indeed, the lease price is not that low, nearly $500/month for 36 months with the up-front costs amortized.

How about the dashboard? Did Volkswagen copy Tesla and stick a Chinese touch screen in the middle of the two front seats and call it good? No. There is a real dashboard, according to Car and Driver:

All versions of the vehicle feature VW’s 5.3-inch ID Cockpit. The digital dash cluster uses three frames in the display to show speed, driver assistance information, and navigation. Drivers can opt for all three or just two of the three, with the speedometer always available. The automaker has moved the gearshifter directly to the right and attached it to the display. Twist it forward to go forward and back to go into reverse. A button on the side places it in park.

How about the size? From electrek:

In other words, these cars are the same size.

The VW should be better for driving in the city due to a tighter turning radius. (But how many people with enough money to buy a new car will want to drive into American cities anymore?)

One glaring deficiency from Mindy the Crippler’s point of view: No Dog Mode. At least based on the VW web site, there is no way to park the car with instructions to keep the climate control going. From Cadillac Mountain, below, speaking of landmarks named after car manufacturers….

Is this the beginning of the end for Tesla? The company cannot make cars profitably at current prices, right? And the current prices cannot be sustained when the real car companies are offering excellent electric cars at just over $30,000, right? The competitive analysis by VW shows that the Tesla can charge faster in ideal circumstances and can accelerate more dramatically (not here in Boston; traffic jams are back!), but presumably those advantages are balanced by a lot of disadvantages in areas where traditional car manufacturers have expertise.

10 thoughts on “Volkswagen ID.4 versus Tesla Y: Did the Empire Strike Back?

  1. The basic problem for Tesla is that they don’t know how to manufacture cars. With a build quality approaching a stage that others mastered back in the ’60s you’re paying a substantial premium for all bling, no substance.

  2. The ID.4 has a geriatric 8.5 seconds 0-60 acceleration, and by all accounts VW’s software prowess is questionable (not that Tesla’s Windows-powered architecture is an exemplar, but at least they think like a software company, not a lumbering legacy dinosaur):

    What I don’t understand is what supply-chain arrangements they have made for batteries to support their planned 500,000 vehicles a year production target. At one point, Tesla consumed half the world’s entire production of 18650 lithium batteries, despite being a niche luxury manufacturer. That’s why they have been investing in battery-manufacturing factories and now designing their own batteries. I suspect VW is going to find out pretty soon that they will be bottlenecked by their ability to source batteries, possibly even by the world supply of cobalt.

    • Fazal: When 330 million residents of the U.S. share a highway system built for 150 million, why is 8.5 seconds 0-60 too slow? The 1978 Corvette was at 7.8 seconds and the roads were a lot more open then (only 222 million people living in the U.S.).

    • I agree. As I’ve said before with EVs and I will undoubtedly say again: “It’s the batteries, man. The batteries.” I don’t see how they’re going to scale the production if the energy density isn’t dramatically improved, along with the recycling. Of course, the co-winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry thinks the future for most of the proles is not to own a car and instead rely on a public network of self-driving vehicles.

      “The ideal style for the future is people don’t own a car and a self-driving vehicle is coming whenever anyone wants to use the service.” He won the Nobel Prize, so he must know something. It looks to me like the new ID.4 is 90% of the way to being self-driving right off the showroom floor:

      IQ.DRIVE features:
      – Travel Assist
      – Lane Assist
      – Front Assist
      – Adaptive Cruise Control
      – Emergency Assist
      – Blind Spot Monitor (Side Assist)
      – Rear Traffic Alert

      So it looks a lot like what we’re doing is using taxpayer subsidies so that relatively wealthy people can buy the electric vehicles for a few more years, have fun with the cars, and then eventually everyone else has to wait for the Community Taxi.

  3. The gootube videos all show non Teslas having horrendous charging rates & range. The Tesla dashboards look immensely easier to clean than the traditional dashboards with goofy contours & widgets.

    When considering buying Tesla shares though, it’s hard to believe their battery breakthroughs are any different than the last 20 years of battery breakthroughs or that traditional car makers haven’t done the same optimizations to manufacturing.

  4. The chances of this specific car or VW killing Tesla are still probably worse than 50%, but the chance that one of VW, Honda, Toyota, etc will kill Tesla are extremely high.
    Tesla might now how to design a great puzzle, but those companies are just unbeatable at putting puzzle pieces together.

  5. Amazing. All the pictures, all the buzz generation, and you cannot find the curb weight of the vehicle anywhere. The reason it goes from 0-60 in 8.5 seconds is because they limit the engine’s power output to keep the range at the 250 mark, and my guess is that it weighs more than 2 tons.

    The Tesla Model Y clocks in a 4,416 lbs., and since the ID.4 is virtually the same size, my guess is that the weight is probably close. All electric vehicles built around today’s battery technologies that have conventional car dynamics are porkers. True, it carries the weight low, but it’s got a lot of it to haul around.

  6. Tesla have access to more battery production than any other manufacturer by a significant margin. More importantly, they may already have an unassailable lead in real-world self-driving data, due to most of the Teslas on the road monitoring and logging every part of every drive (automated or not), allowing Tesla to analyse every instance where the driver did something Autopilot wouldn’t have. They’ll be around for a while.

    • I agree with that. Mr. Musk is a strange kind of showman, but the data he’s collecting is worth more than the vehicles. Wile E. Coyote always cratered, but he kept coming back!

      I think the establishment automakers will nibble away at Tesla, they’ll build the cars better, but they’re not going to kill Tesla until they’re ready to do it right. And Elon will be fine.

Comments are closed.