Volkswagen unveils less carbon intensive ID.4 digital marketing

Wants not only its upcoming all-electric ID.4 SUV to be largely emissions-free, but its black and white text-only consumer site as well

By Michael Bettencourt

Feb 3, 2021 3 min. read

Article was updated a year ago

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Volkswagen Canada is now providing information on its upcoming all-electric ID.4 crossover on a black and white, text-only consumer information site, as well as on a regular colour one on VW’s main site, in order to allow environmentally-minded consumers to gather information on the upcoming battery electric SUV using less carbon intensive digital marketing.

The thinking behind the move is that the internet has a carbon footprint, with every video, photo, post and app consumers interact with adding to the amount of electricity generated by the servers and platforms that brought it to you. VW Canada detailed how this black and white consumer site was certified to produce less carbon dioxide than 99 per cent of websites tested by Website Carbon, a UK-based company that offers various carbon measuring tools for companies and websites around the world.

The company calculates that the Internet and the gadgets supporting them globally consume over 416 TWh (terrawatt-hours), or more than the entire United Kingdom. This adds up to an estimated 3.7 per cent of all global GHG emissions, or roughly similar to what’s produced by the airline industry, according to Lancaster University researcher Mike Hazas in the UK.

Volkswagen Canada is therefore highlighting its extra efforts to measure and reduce the upcoming carbon footprint of its digital marketing programs in relation to the electric ID.4, say company executives.

“To promote the ID.4 we decided to bring its sustainability from on the road to online,” said Lynne Piette, VW Canada’s director of marketing, in a regular colour video webinar the company later said would also be carbon offset through a tree-planting program.

It’s true that adding an extra black and white text-based site option on top of a regular site with full colour photos and videos increases the overall digital carbon footprint of VW’s electric vehicle marketing efforts, the company acknowledged. But VW Canada has also worked with Website Carbon to ‘clean up’ its regular VW Canada site, making its entire site cleaner than 50 per cent of most sites on the web after a thorough audit, said the digital firm’s managing director Tom Greenwood.

And the black and white page is 99 per cent cleaner, thanks to no video, colours, JPEG or PNG files at all – the grey scale images of the ID.4 and any backgrounds are all produced by super small ASCII text, artfully combined to reveal the images using words.

In short, these pictures are literally made up of a thousand words, or more.

The page is slated to expand along with the planned expansion of the ID family in upcoming years, though it will focus on and start with the ID.4, which will begin rolling out this summer in parts of the country, but will expand its availability across the country over the next year or two.

The VW ID.4 will most closely compete with electric crossovers such as the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang Mach-E, though the company has also said it intends to target the much larger pool of consumers looking at mainstream gas-powered crossovers such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, hybrid or otherwise.

Official range figures in Canada have not been released, but in the U.S., the ID.4 is EPA rated to 402 km, while the Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y (Standard Range) are rated at 370 km and 393 km, respectively.

Rumours are already circling that this new less expensive version of the Model Y crossover may yet become eligible for the Canadian federal government’s $5,000 federal rebate, but nothing has been confirmed at time of writing.