Dismal Manor recently took delivery of an AWD Pro Gradient S ID.4 battery electric vehicle. On D + 2 Days, Dave, Rocky, and Missy went for a ride. Missy and Rocky rode in the expanded wayback as neither wanted to board with the back seat up. Once loaded up, we drove the bay and ocean loop from Little Creek to Dam Neck. Once at Dam Neck, we joined the Virginia Beach roads and took the tricky way home.
First Impressions, again
The ID.4 purchase was the first I’d made without a lengthy product search and dealer qualification before ordering or buying from stock. I made the purchase largely on faith that VW would ensure that the ID.4 had the VW brand personality, that the interior would be on a par with that in the Mk 7 Golf/GTI, and that the ergonomics would be on a par with my Mk 7 GTI. VW easily met these expectations.
After rattling around town for several days, I find the car easy to drive, easy to reverse into parking, cabin comfort is good, and the greyhounds approve. The human machine interface is reasonable. The root menu with its file folders is a bit jarring WIndows 95 shtick. The function menus are generally modern in appearance, clear, and well organized. As the owners manual appears to be. But things are squirreled away and aren’t always where you expect them to be. For example, locking the car stows the door mirrors. But I can’t stow the door mirrors before backing into the tight carport. Or have I just not found that item.
Take reviews with a grain of salt
Driving the ID.4 is a delight. The YouTube “reviewers” panning the car have done so without disclosing their vehicle preferences and expectations brought to the review. If you were expecting an electric BMW, perhaps you shouldn’t order a mainstream family car. When you review a family car, perhaps you should have family car expectations and not AMG Mercedes Black expectations.
The YouTube reviewers are whinging that VW’s B-mode is not Tesla-esque “one pedal driving”. ID.4’s shortcoming is that B-mode slows the vehicle to creep speed rather than a complete stop. VW left stopping the vehicle to the driver. But B-mode in “comfort” settings easily handles most around town stop and go. When lifting off the “go-pedal” the amount of regenerative braking is proportional to the amount of lift. Less go is more slow up to a maximum of 0.25 G, a healthy level of braking effort. It took me an hour or so to get the knack of go-mostly driving.
ID.4 has 2 modes of driving, D and B. D-mode configures the vehicle to coast much like a conventional gas auto-box vehicle would coast. B-Mode configures the vehicle for regenerative braking when go-pedal demand is less than vehicle speed. The regenerative braking on the RWD uses the rear motor to slow the vehicle at 0.25G which is maybe twice the deceleration most drivers use in manual braking.
D-Mode is good for highway driving. B-Mode works well for around-town driving in stop and go conditions.
ID.4 AWD B-mode braking may or may not use both rear and front motors. But in use, the vehicle slows smartly without any front end squat. VW has nicely managed the pitching torques resulting from applying a deceleration force below the center of mass.
It was fairly easy to learn to modulate the amount of slowing by partial release of the go pedal. The vehicle slows smoothly from initial speed to about 3 MPH. B-mode does not bring the vehicle to a complete stop. That remains an operator task. B-Mode braking will stop the vehicle well short of the traffic ahead if you lift as you would driving in P-mode or driving a VW ICE auto-box.
I found that it took a few miles of stop and go traffic to get the hang of the feature and will use it for most of my around town driving where the regeneration is most useful.
The ID.4 climate control is automatic with separate dampers for driver side and passenger side. The control has two configuration modes, a traditional one that lets you set the temperature and choose the registers to use. A newer functional mode lets you set the temperature and choose warm feet, warm hands, clear windows, etc. In this mode, the vehicle coordinates use of seat heaters, steering wheel heater, heating, and cooling, and windscreen and rear window heaters to keep the glass clear and the occupants comfortable.
Cooling and heating is available at idle, the automatic controls work well, but mode changing takes a little menu fumbling. But the beauty of automatic climate control is that you tell it what to do and leave it be. No fiddling with the temperature, dampers, or fan speed. Otto does all that for you. A function button takes you straight to the climate control settings.
VW uses different climate control equipment in different jurisdictions. Rumor has it, carbon dioxide is used as refrigerant in Germany. The colder climates of northern Europe and Canada have heat pump heating. Here in the US, we have resistance heating and R1234YF refrigerant for the air con.
The ID.4 has a built-in Sat Nav. If you use Apple Car Play or Android Auto, the car can also display the output of your phone’s Sat Nav program.
VW’s satellite navigation is decent. The driver’s display shows the coming turn, travel lanes, and best lane choice for the turn. Just to the right of vehicle speed. Announcements are clear and timely. The moving map is reasonably stable. It shows businesses (likely paid placements) along the route. It does not show cross street names well but that turned out not to be a problem. Turn cueing by distance was good. The display shows the turn British highway sign style. Lane cuing is well in advance of the maneuver. Maneuver announcement timing is good.
Car Net includes map updates over the air. The sat-nav always has the latest route database. Recalculation is good. I have a preferred route out of my neighborhood that is different (longer) than the recommended. The sat nav caught on that I’d thrown it a curve and quickly recalculated for the route out that I was using. Same with the way in. I go around the block so I’m on the proper side of the road to reverse in to my drive way. This recalculation was also seamless.
I’ve got to hand it to ID. Not once did he try to direct me to drive off a pier or drive into the sea!
I’ve tried both VW and Apple Sat Nav and find that I prefer the Apple iPhone Maps Sat Nav. Apple concentrates on the navigation task and does not show “attractions” on the map. It clearly shows the name of each major cross street along the route. I prefer this to knowing that there is an Applebee’s on the cross-street.
Charging a modern BEV is a bit more complex than charging a mobile phone. The BEV charger is a major electrical load on the same order of demand as my home’s heat pump heating and cooling. The BEV charger ramps up to 40 amps demand and stays there for most of the charge. Toward the end of the charge, it will switch to a finishing protocol to equalize the state of charge of the thousands of cells in the battery.
As an option, the vehicle cabin can be pre-conditioned for a planned departure. Most use this feature to be greeted by a warmed cabin for work-day departures. Weekend travel is less structured but the feature can be set for weekend trips also.
Please, please have an electrician install your electric vehicle supply equipment. There is more to it than running cable from the home’s load center to the EVSE. Your electrician will perform a survey of existing loads, confirm that panel and service drop are properly rated for the added load, and will ensure that the bonding and earthing are correct. There’s more to it than running red, black, and white to a terminal strip in the EVSE. Also, the EVSE current limit needs to be set to match the cable. EVSE and Das Auto chat about the available power and Das Auto will restrict its demand to the cable’s working limit.
Your electrician will also prepare a load letter for the utility informing it of the large loads and total draw. This allows the utility to check the transformer loading and to confirm the meter box fusing.
The EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) is smart. It can talk to the utility for demand management. It can talk to the car to describe the amount and type of power available. The operator can set up the EVSE to make power available to the vehicle during a time period.
The car is smart. It can be configured to charge the vehicle at a convenient time. The charge setup has two parts, an immediate charge and a timed charging period.
IEC standards allow the car and EVSE to negotiate session specifics, verify credentials, and make payment arrangements. When fully implemented in the 3.0 firmware coming this spring, VW battery electric vehicles will be plug and charge. No fiddling with apps to set up a session with the provider or EVSE.
Smart things can be given conflicting settings causing charging not to happen.
ID.4 Charging model
the ID.4 charging model has 2 phases. The immediate charge works like this. If the battery is less than x percent, charge to x percent on connection. This feature gets some energy back in the battery quickly for immediate errands. Most use 20 percent for the immediate recharge to limit.
Later timed charging completes the battery charge. The timed part of the charge is designed to allow the majority of charging to happen during the utility’s base load tariff period. This phase of the charge has 3 parameters, start time, end time, and target state of charge, normally 80% capacity. An ID.4 charging specification can have several time windows. It is unclear if more than one can/should be enabled.
ID.4 Knows if you got it right
ID.4 appears to check the charging specs for completeness and consistency with charging program constraints. If you get something wrong, ID.4 will tell you something is wrong, oh, and check the fine manual. The manual hasn’t a clue what you did, only you and ID.
The manual has all the required safety advisories but no guidance on what a properly configured charging specification contains. After all, the code knows and the user doesn’t need to know. So, HMI has no guidance. Manual has no guidance. Its obvious, right.
The charging HMI configures departure pre-conditioning first and battery charging second. The charging specifications are off-screen as a result of this layout. VW has things backward here. Charge specs first, cabin preconditioning specs second. And why are they on charging and not climate control? Well, they could be winter and summer but some of us are snow birds going south for the winter but north for winter holidays. So cabin pre-conditoning is appropriately location cataloged.
The car really needs a quick start guide to guide the new owner through initial setup, Car-Net setup, and initial charging. And where things are stowed. And the auxiliary battery, and puncture procedures. Either of these is likely to result in a road service call.
Charging Session Catalog
The VW ID.4 allows you to build a catalog of charging sessions specifications for reuse. This catalog is organized by location as known in Sat Nav favorites and shares the Sat Nav attraction look-up.
Each location has up to 3 cabin preconditioning specifications identified by departure time shown first and several charging windows shown second and off-screen when the location is first opened.
I found the first charge setup to be a bit of a challenge. I have time of day metering with base load cheap power from 0000 to 0459. So I wanted to run the charge during this period. Charge session specifications appear on the “Locations” menu and are associated with a place. Not a bad idea. A location can have as many as 3 departure times. The departure times give cabin preconditioning parameters. Otto will have the car warmed or cooled and ready to go at departure time.
The developers screwed up by using check boxes for departure time selection and for charge time window selection. Each of these should be a “radio buttons” group allowing selection of one of the several options. One options should be for no cabin conditioning.
Or do I want to use two windows on different tariffs for the charge? Or do I want to complete the charge tomorrow on the night cheap tariff?
Do charge times and departure times interact?
It is unclear if there is interaction between the charge intervals and the departure times. Each location may have several charge periods. One must be enabled. Each location has three departure times. Zero to one must be enabled.
They screwed up the error handling
Now the fun begins. Both departure times and charge intervals are selected using check boxes. Forget to enable a charging period gives a useless error message. Enabling several departure times or several charging windows gives an anodyne error message. See the fine manual.
Now, the charging session logic is clearly testing the data to be within limits and to be consistent within the session. There are assertions for each of those tests and failing an assertion throws an exception.
Where VW lazied out was in failing to write individual specific and clear messages for each of the possible assertion exceptions. Oh, and you have to do this for each HMI language.
But there are standard frameworks for locale specific messaging. In modern programming languages, all this code is added to the exception handler and the messages are added to the message catalog. Setting the HMI languagage determines the messages that will be shown. It’s not hard. Just wasn’t done. But it is 1990’s UNIX. Locale specific messaging was in BSD 4.3.
So anyway, Rocky wanted out at 0030 so I dressed and checked on the car and spent a half-hour getting the session settings sorted. Of all the HMI goofs I’ve seen, this one is really bad as EVSE and vehicle must be set up. My new EVSE had not been used to pull a charge until the ID.4’s first charge, IE, the EVSE had not been verified. Just that it was happy. There’s plenty of room for finger pointing and buck passing.