Volkswagen ID.7, image courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen ID.7 & Volvo EX90 Make North American Debut At CES 2023

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The big hoopla in Las Vegas every January is the Consumer Electronics Show, which draws millions of visitors from around the globe. As cars become more like computers and less like transportation devices, CES has supplanted many traditional auto shows. There was a time when the world beat a path to Michigan every year for the Detroit auto show, but that was when GM, Ford, and Chrysler were on top of the automotive world. Now CES is where people go to see what is hot and happening in the automotive sphere.

Volkswagen has been absent from CES for the past 6 years, but it came to Las Vegas in 2023 to showcase its latest model in the ID. family, the ID.7 sedan. Reading through the company’s press release, many will see references to features that evoke the Tesla Model 3. That is no coincidence. The ID.7 is designed specifically to take sedan customers away from Tesla. Elon Musk once begged other automakers to make compelling electric cars. Does the ID.7 qualify? Let’s take a look.

ID.7 Concept Touts 700 Kilometer Range

We’ll get to the details in a moment, but the first thing about the proposed ID.7 is that Volkswagen claims it will have a range of 700 kilometers WLTP. That translates to about 430 miles. Is that enough to get people to stop worrying about how far they can drive on a single battery charge? Maybe. WLTP and EPA are very different things. Typically, EPA estimates are about 15% less than WLTP, so we can anticipate the Monroney sticker on these cars, once they go on sale in 2026, will show a range closer to 365 miles or so. That’s still pretty impressive stuff.

Volkswagen does say in a footnote, “In practice, the actual range will deviate depending on the driving style, speed, use of convenience/auxiliary consumers, outdoor temperature, number of passengers/load and topography.” It may not be in the headline, but the company is at least attempting to put customers on notice about what factors will impact the range they get in normal driving. Too many people think those range numbers are chiseled in stone and get disappointed if their own personal experience doesn’t match up.

The press release waxes eloquent about the luminescent paint scheme on the show car and how it took 40 coats to get it to resemble a QR code. That may impress the most nerdy technophiles in the group, but it has nothing to do with the driving experience, so we are going to skip right to the important stuff.

The Good Stuff Is Inside

Volkswagen ID.7
Image courtesy of Volkswagen

“With the new ID.7, we are extending our electric model range into the upper segments. The sedan will offer top-class technology and quality. The ID.7 is one of ten new electric models that we are planning to launch by 2026. Our goal? To deliver suitable products for our customers in every single segment,” says Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars.

The ID.7 offers an innovative climate and comfort experience based on customer feedback. Included are

  • A new display concept
  • Augmented reality head-up display
  • 38-centimeter (15-inch) central touchscreen
  • Air conditioning controls integrated into the first level of the infotainment system
  • Illuminated touch sliders

The new air conditioning concept with intelligent technology can detect when the driver is approaching based on their key and start to cool the interior on hot summer days or heat the interior on cold days before the driver gets into the vehicle. Newly designed “Smart Air Vents” control the flow of air and move dynamically to distribute the air over large areas as quickly as possible.

If there are passengers in the car, the air can be directed straight to the body or ventilate the interior indirectly. These functions are visible at all times on the new large display and can be activated and saved individually for each user. Special requests can be activated using voice commands. If the user says “Hello Volkswagen, my hands are cold!” the ID.7 responds by starting the steering wheel heating function. At the same time, warm air is directed towards the hands.

If you own a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y, you are familiar with a similar system, which works great, by the way. The difference here is that with the ID.7, the ability to control climate control functions is always shown on the touchscreen whereas Tesla likes to hide such details and make you go searching for them. Different strokes for different folks.

Thanks to the MEB platform, the ID.7 features a long wheelbase with short overhangs front and rear. That leaves more room inside and results in the look and feel of a luxury sedan, but with a smaller footprint. The company says with the ID.7 it is expanding its ID. family into the upper middle class of the high volume segment and will be offered in all three primary markets — China, Europe, and North America.

For the European market, the ID.7 will be produced at the Emden plant, where the ID.4 is currently assembled. The company carefully sidesteps the question of where the ID.7 will be manufactured for the North American market, although there are rumors it is scouting locations for a second US factory in addition to its existing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Volvo EX90 At CES

Volvo EX90

CleanTechnica readers are already familiar with the Volvo EX90, thanks to Kyle Field’s introduction to the car a few weeks ago. Volvo brought the car — the battery-electric successor to the highly successful XC90 — to CES 2023. Here’s some of what it has to say to American customers.

“A true seven seater, the Volvo EX90 is an all electric SUV that further raises our standards in safety and a more sustainable lifestyle. The company plans to start building the EX90 at its factory in South Carolina later this year. It calls the car “a highly advanced computer on wheels. At CES, the Volvo EX90 is being shown in connection with both Google and Luminar displays, showcasing new technologies developed with Volvo Cars to be announced and demonstrated later this week.

“The level of standard safety in the Volvo EX90 is higher than any Volvo car before it. It’s designed to understand the driver and its surroundings to help keep you, your loved ones, and others in traffic safer. It is also designed to get smarter and safer over time, as it learns from new data and receives updates over the air.

“Our sensors — one long range lidar, 5 radars, 8 cameras, and 16 ultrasonic sensors — don’t get tired or distracted. They are designed to respond and react when you are just a fraction too late. Our lidar, delivered by Luminar, can sense the road in front of you and is designed to be able to see small objects approximately two football fields ahead in day or night, and even at highway speeds. Lidar can give the driver more time to act and avoid dangerous — yet common — driving situations.

“The advanced exterior sensor set works hand in hand with our new driver understanding system. Consisting of a capacitive steering wheel and 2 camera-based gaze sensing, it allows for a deeper understanding of when the driver is distracted or sleepy and will help create a preventive shield of safety that you don’t know is there until you need it.

“Inside the Volvo EX90, a 14.5-inch center screen is your gateway to one of the best infotainment systems on offer, with Google built-in. Google apps and services including hands free help from Google Assistant and Google Maps navigation. The displays in the Volvo EX90 help you keep your eyes on the road by offering you the right information at the right time. The Volvo EX90 will also be compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay.

“The 2024 Volvo EX90 is now available for pre-order in the United States and will be available well equipped at under $80,000. Customers placing pre-orders will be asked to configure their cars in the fall of 2023 and will receive prioritization when deliveries begin in early 2024.”

The CES Takeaway

For techies, CES is nirvana. At this year’s show, we learned more about how Volkswagen expects to merge electronics in a way that is intuitive for drivers and passengers while Volvo is introducing one of the first mass produced cars equipped with lidar — a technology that likely will become essential to Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous driving. Sharp-eyed readers will note the starting price for the EX90 in the US will be under $80,000, which by a happy coincidence is exactly where the upper limit is to qualify for the latest federal EV tax credits.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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