As we roll toward 2021, we have some truly exciting and competitive electric vehicles arriving that aren’t Teslas. (Finally!) One of those models — perhaps the one that will end up selling at the highest volume — is the Volkswagen ID.4.
One of the most interesting things about the ID.4 is that it offers a compelling balance between size, price, range, tech, and practicality. The ID.4 Pro (the lowest version currently on the market) has a starting price of $39,995, and that drops down to $32,495 after the US federal EV tax credit. It’s a crossover/compact SUV — the hottest market segment out there.
I decided it was time to run some “cost of ownership” numbers again and see how the ID.4 would compare against some top sellers in this segment. I’ve started with a comparison between the ID.4 and the Tiguan, in part because they’re from the same automaker and in part because the Tiguan is a strong seller in this class.
There are several assumptions one must make for a 5-year cost of ownership analysis, and there are important caveats. I’ll include some notes on those below. For now, though, here is an estimated 5-year cost of ownership the ID.4 Pro brings to the neighborhood and how it compares to four different Volkswagen Tiguan trims:
A few quick notes on comparisons beyond cost: The ID.4 has a 10″ center touchscreen, whereas the Tiguan options have an 8″ touchscreen. The ID.4 Pro has a heated steering wheel and heated front seats, whereas only the SEL and SEL Premium R-Line versions of the Tiguan offer that (while the SE and SE R-Line Black versions offer heated front seats but no heated steering wheel). The ID.4 Pro has a glass roof, whereas the Tiguan models doesn’t, and only the SE R-Line Black has a panoramic roof. There are other differences to consider as well, in case they are important to you, but it’s important to note that the ID.4 Pro is basically a top-tier trim compared to the Tiguan competition.
The ID.4 also has instant torque, whereas a gas vehicle can never have that, and good regenerative braking.
As you can see, based on the more or less average estimates for key assumptions that I included above, the ID.4 Pro ends up costing less than all of the Tiguan models despite a higher upfront price. In fact, it costs several thousand dollars less than the higher-option Tiguan trims that it is more comparable to. There are a couple of significant extra notes, though.
While it can be one of the biggest differences in cost, I did not include estimates for resale values here. There are strong arguments to make going in either direction on this matter, and any estimate I make is sure to have people freaking out, so I’m leaving this to you — estimate the resale value of the vehicle at a year you think you’d sell it, estimate the resale value for a competing vehicle, and subtract those from the overall costs. Some things to consider: Before the tax credit goes away for Volkswagen EV buyers, the value of used VW EVs should drop more than for a normal cars because a new car buyer can almost immediately get a $7,500 discount from the federal government. However, in 5 years, the shift to EVs may be so strong and clear that the value of used, inefficient, outdated gasoline vehicle will drop sharply. We’ll see.
Another matter is maintenance. We don’t yet have a solid estimate of what ID.4 maintenance costs will be. I put in my estimate. For the Tiguan models, I used figures from Edmunds.
Last but not least, there are several assumptions in which I included fairly average figures, but differences in lifestyle, region, and local charging options could change the results significantly. Generally speaking, the more you tend to drive, the more you save by switching to electricity. Also, you can save a lot more if you have free workplace or local destination charging (I’ve spend $0 in the past 16 months with a Tesla Model 3) or if you have rooftop solar panels, or you might have to pay more if you frequently use high-cost superfast charging.
In terms of the $7,500 federal tax credit, note that you cannot spread the credit out across multiple years, so you need to be able to take advantage of that all at once.
I only ran one analysis, simply inputting some forecasts for nationwide averages and leaving the heavy lifting of resale value to you to guesstimate. I encourage you to copy my sheet and play with the assumptions yourself to fit your situation and your own expectations about the future.
See other EV total cost of ownership (TCO) analyses here.
Resources used to help conduct this analysis include the Edmunds TCO data noted above, the US EIA for info on gas prices, the US DOT/FHWA for average miles driven per year, this loan interest calculator, the US DOT for VW ID.4 efficiency statistics, Volkswagen’s webpages for the ID.4 and Tiguan, and my Google Sheet for calculating everything together (which you are free to copy and use with your own assumptions).
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