Summer 2023 in Canada proved that climate change is indeed one of humanity’s most daunting challenges. If you’re one of those individuals who still doubt the validity of our planet being warmed by excessive amounts of carbon dioxide directly linked to human activity, take a few minutes to look back at the abnormal natural disasters we’ve collectively experienced since May.
When our local news outlets weren’t talking to us about massive forest fires in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, and BC all at once – causing thick smog in urban centers to the point of declaring it a state of emergency for bad air quality - they were reporting on the horrendous heat waves and record-breaking amounts of rainfall. If that wasn’t enough, Montreal, a city normally not associated with this kind of natural phenomenon, received a tornado warning, which luckily remained at the supercell level once it reached Trois-Rivières, but still ended up flooding a large chunk of southeastern Quebec in less than an hour.
Indeed, not the best time to bring a child into this world. Yet, for me, summer 2023 also signalled the birth of my first son, Magnus. Little did I know that driving him home from the hospital in an electric vehicle while the forests of northern Quebec were on fire would give me a greater appreciation for these vehicles.
Not the solution, but part of the solution
The goal here is not to make you feel bad for driving a gasoline-fed automobile, nor am I here to lecture you on why the electric car will solve our climate issues. I’m not exactly one to lead by example. I drive one, sometimes two new cars per week for my job, most of them fuelled by gasoline. And that’s not counting the times I fly to another country to drive more cars. I’m probably responsible for more CO2 emissions in a year than three Canadian families combined.
But I do at least hope to educate Canadians on the urgency of switching the entire automotive industry to electrification. No, EVs are not the solution. But they can be part of a broader solution, one of collectively reducing our carbon emissions with hopes that climate change can be slowed.
For me, seeing how these disasters are impacting the lives and health of millions of people while I was bringing a new human being into the world had me wanting to take a deep breath so I could figure out how I could make a difference.
Smooth Riding ID.4, Infuriating Ergonomics
At this point, it’s worth underlining how great of a baby-hauling apparatus Volkswagen’s electric SUV was during Magnus’ first weeks of life. The ID.4 is a smooth operator thanks to its dual-motor setup and 339 lb-ft of instant torque. It’s a car that barely has you noticing its stiff suspension (typical of all EVs due to their weight) thanks to remarkable sound deadening and a high level of refinement. Spacious and supremely comfortable, the ID.4 served as the ideal magic carpet to carry my baby during these tense first days of parenthood.
It also proved rather efficient while I had it. Thanks to my Level-2 home charger and the ID.4 AWD Pro’s claimed 410 kilometers of available range, I never felt the need to rely on public charging to juice up its 77-kWh battery.
I was able to go about my daily commute without zero range anxiety. The entire time, I relied solely on my home charger. After two weeks and covering a tad over 1,000 km, the onboard computer rated my driving at an average of 19.4 kWh/100 km. This would translate into a real-world range figure of 396 kilometres, very close to the carmaker’s promises.
That being said, I must warn you of the ID.4’s flawed user experience. Haptic feedback buttons that require multiple pushes to work, a confusing and laggy infotainment system, 2 window switches to operate 4 windows (why?), and climate and volume controls that don’t illuminate at night are just the tip of the iceberg.
Add to that a frustrating mobile app and the car’s obsession with turning everything off unless you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, and the ID.4 ended up becoming one of the most irritating automotive experiences I’ve come across.
But although the Volkswagen ID.4 had me cursing at it louder than when I watch the Rocky v. Drago scene in Rocky IV, none of its ergonomic issues mattered as I drove it through what appeared to be the start of a climate apocalypse.
Because if I had been driving around in an equivalent ICE SUV, say, a Mazda CX-5 for instance, I would have spewed an additional 209 kilograms of CO2 into an already carbon-saturated atmosphere. That’s 70 times more than the weight of my newborn son.
As I drove the emission-free ID.4 through wildfire-generated smog that day, I was glad that, at least in the moment, I wasn’t contributing to compromising my son’s future on this beautiful, yet fragile planet.
2023 VW ID.4 Pro AWD
Dual motor all-wheel drive
77-kWh usable (82 kWh total) liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery powering two electric motors (295 horsepower / 339 lb-ft).
: 20.1 kWh/100 km (city) / 22.6 kWh/100 km (highway) / 21.2 kWh/100 km (combined).
OBSERVED FUEL CONSUMPTION
: 19.4 kWh/100 km
858 liters (1,817 liters total)
$58,160 (as tested)