Car talk

Electrify America Account Setup

The 2021 VW ID.4 comes with unlimited CCS DC fast charging and Level 2 charging courtesy of Electrify America and VW’s settlement of the Diesel emissions fraud case. To take advantage of this offer requires an Electrify America app account with public charging configured. Thanks to the smart folks of Reddit VW ID.4 group for their Cliff’s notes.

Car talk Personal Computing

Volkswagen ID.Software Updates

With the ID.Generation, VW has brought over-the-air updating to key system software of its battery electric vehicles. This process updates the MIB-3 user interface, various electrical control unit software, and importantly, the traction inverter and other important software giving your ID its personality.

Every European car v-logger seems to feel he (it’s almost always a he) should make an ID.Software Version 3 update video. But I’ll bet not a one of them has actually applied an update to an ID.3 or ID.4. Why, because they almost always use a press vehicle to make the video and not their personal daily driver.

So I spent some quality time with the Duck to find this actual page of information from the actual VW folk and not the 10 insanely great ways to update your VW’s software people. You know them. The ones killing the Internet for enthusiasts or just the actually curious. Following the break, the link and some highlights.

Car talk

Millenium Falcon Update

A short note to update you on a couple of Millennium Falcon things, dog happens and the scary 12 V battery message.

Dog Mishap

Rocky narrates.

Me, Rocky on patrol. All 29 inches and 80 pounds!

As you can see, Millennium Falcon has plenty of room for a greyhound or two. I’ve been riding back here as I can muscle up pretty easily. Missy is riding row two as she has trouble making the back in the carport. Miss this leap and you can tear your hip capsule, a serious, possibly life-ending injury. It happens as we get older (after 10).

Me Again. On a ChuckIt tuffet. In the Falcon WayBack

Anyway, the staff was opening the driver door to retrieve something like the USB car tunes button. I tried to board crawling under the wheel and over the console and got a trotter in the open phone pooka. Pooka can be Celtic for spirits of one sort or another (but not the potable kind). Or it can be submarine/Navy for a small storage space. The phone shelf is an example of the latter.

Ickle Rocky checks the worktops with four on the floor

The antenna assembly snaps in with a plastic flange supporting it. A thin plastic flange. After all, normal load is well less than 1 Kg. But a dog paw fits through the roll-top easily. And the sliding top exposes the phone shelf a bit. Enough for a big 40 Kilo beast to trod on it. Crunch. USB unplugged. All passenger USB out. WiFi out. Phone charging out. Oh, and it is a $600 part! The working parts are fine. Checkered Flag VW reconnected the WiFi and USB and stuffed some cardboard under to raise the shelf to usable. Just the stupid mounting flange failed.

Really, don’t VW engineers have dogs? Don’t they take their dogs about in the test vehicles? Don’t they note and fix the rough bits? I suspect VW engineers have basket-riding bag rats, not manly dogs like me that ride loose.

Stupid Message

The Falcon was in space dock for a few days without travel as tourists were crawling over the beach and church was ditched to sleep-in. So the Falcon’s 12 V battery ran down enough to need a charge. I (Dave writes) hop in to go grocery shopping to top up on summer fruit and pantry supplies. I put Falcon in start and a scary message about HV electrical trouble greets me. I watch the car complete POST and come to READY with full power available. WTF, VW?

Millenium Falcon in Space Dock

I drive down to Wegmans for a shop, about 20 minutes underway, park, and go in. I return after shopping to drive to a second supermarket to complete my list. (Wegmans is wonderful but they never have Rao’s Sausage and Mushroom sauce. That’s the best of the lot, meaty with a minimum of meat and lots of button mushroom slices.)

Falcon starts without messages. The HV trouble annunciator is cleared as a short drive remedied whatever was the matter. Apparently, Millennium Falcon needs regular exercise.

More about EV Batteries

There are at least two, the HV battery that runs almost everything and a 12 V aux battery that runs the locks, HMI displays and processors, lights, and stuff that you need to get in the car and start up the HV system and the 12 V inverter that powers all the accessories underway. Once the HV power electronics are going, the HV to 12 V inverter charges the 12 V aux battery that keeps the car alert between trips.

The 12 V aux battery is a deep cycle marine battery, usually small frame size, that normally powers sailing vessel amenities when the engines are secured. These are very similar to trolling motor batteries used by bass fishermen to maneuver around a fishing hole. They are made to supply moderate current for a long time and to be discharged fully and recharged.

These batteries have a short service life because the charge/discharge cycles cause the plate structure to change and plate bridging can occur. They have been a reliability sore spot for most EV brands. Even Tesla.

Most famously, a 12 V aux battery made James May walk when he returned to his Tesla Model S as lock-down was ending. James May, being a YouTube film maker, made a little film showing with James May understated irony the pains needed to uncover the Model S aux battery for jumping or replacement.

Tesla buried the battery out of sight under the bonnet trim. And to remove one plastic trim bit required pulling a T-handle cord that could be reached only by removing a front wheel. Oh, there were two lanyards to pull, one in each wheel well. Who would think you should need to lift the vehicle to replace a regular 12 V battery? Tesla, obviously.

So duly embarrassed, Tesla designed a replacement Lithium iron phosphate replacement battery in a nice little aluminum box that should last the life of the vehicle. More likely, the life of several batteries as the cells chosen have a much longer lifetime that the traction battery cells.

Tesla is unusual in the industry in that it has a vigorous program of continuous improvement. As Tesla discovers friction in assembly or in service, Tesla revises its vehicles to remove the source of difficulty. The replacement lithium ion 12 volt aux battery is a classic example. Many of these planned improvements significantly reduce build cost, build time, or field service costs. Today’s Model S and Model 3 are very different under the skin than the originals.

Car talk Citizenship

EV Surprise

Featured image by the author.

I received a postcard from Virginia DMV reminding me that it was that time again and that I should renew my motor vehicle registration. When I arrived at the DMV website, I found I had a second task to perform …

Car talk Greyhounds

VW ID.4 life with dogs

I thought I’d report my experiences taking the greyhounds on outings in the ID.4. Additional room for Rocky was a significant motivation in retiring the Mk 7 GTI DSG. Almost no reviewers show their dogs in the vehicles they review or comment on suitability of a vehicle to haul big dogs so I thought I’d do that with the VW ID.4

Car talk

Thoughts on Millennium Falcon’s First 3 Months

Featured image by the author. Vehicle display images by the author.

Why Millennium Falcon? Well like the Falcon, the ID.4 is sort of big, sort of fast, and sort of nimble. But only sort of. There is no mistaking it for a 3-Series or S4 Avant. It is still a bit of a sled. With a bit of personality like the Falcon.

Car talk

VW ID Family Charging

Photo by the author.

The VW ID.4 and its siblings are known to be difficult to charge. In particular, the scheduled charging features don’t behave as owners expect them to. At this point, it is unclear if there are actual software problems or just user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) problems. These problems are sufficiently bad that the Internet is littered with whiny posts about the issue.

VW seems to have done a good job of anticipating how owners would want to charge their vehicles. They have not done such a good job of making it happen. This seems to be partially a UI/UX design problem in that the user interface is a bit muddled.

It also appears to be a result of clinging to the ICE fill up when the nag comes on model rather than adopting a different fill-up model suited to BEV home charging. We’ll explore this after the break and report once we have some experience.

Car talk

Drive Train Caution

Leaving to run errands the other day, the ID.4 threw its first power train caution light, malfunction in the electrical drive train. This was only a caution. The car completed self-test and appeared to drive normally. The alarm was locked in until the vehicle was shutdown at my destination.

The fine manual is not terribly helpful. It tells you to have the vehicle serviced. And that you can continue to drive the vehicle.

It drove normally in B mode.

The next start

When I arrived at my destination, I shutdown the drive after parking and ran my errand. I came out expecting that a real fault would still be present and that the caution message would reappear. If it was a glitch during power on self-test, the fault would not return.

When I started the vehicle to depart home, I engaged the drive (B mode) while the vehicle was still working its way through self-test. This time, I patiently waited for self-test to complete. No caution message. ID was happy. We call ours Winterkorn.


Winterkorn does not like to be disturbed while he is performing power on self-test. Engaging the drive may have caused a flicker on the high voltage during self-test that caused the caution. So now I’m careful to let Winterkorn wake fully before attempting to make him move.

Why “Winterkorn”

We named our vehicle after the CEO who set Volkswagon Audi Group on the path to electrification. Without the Diesel emissions scandal to spur action, it is likely that VW would have made a less aggressive transition to battery electric vehicles like Honda, Mazda, and Toyota are. To get well from the extreme embarrassment and harm he caused the company, his replacement announced and the company is executing an aggressive transition to electric vehicles.

Car talk

Bingo Fuel

Feature image courtesy of Volkswagen Ireland.

Bingo fuel is an aviation term of art for the amount of fuel required for a safe return to base and landing. When an aircraft reaches bingo, the pilot must abandon the mission and return to base (usually the designated bingo destination) to ensure that the crew and aircraft will be available to fly another day.

A similar notion is useful in automobile trip planning and fuel management. In internal combustion vehicles, we never really give bingo fuel any thought. When the little orange light comes on, buy fuel soonest. Unless driving out in the country, we were always within a mile or two of a fill-up. Not so driving a BEV. Continue on to learn how the Dismal Chauffeur manages BEV fuel.

Car talk

Three Weeks with the ID.4

Dismal Manor Gang has used its VW AWD Pro S ID.4 for about 3 weeks. We’re about to start paying down the loan and we’re making an effort to go out on pleasure drives with the dogs as the weather and other activities permit. During this period, we’ve formed some more detailed impressions of the vehicle.