There’s more to exchanging your gas-powered vehicle for an electric one than remembering you don’t need to visit a gas station ever again.
Along with the elimination of tailpipe emissions, the way you spend money on electric vehicles requires re-thinking the ins and outs of how much it costs to own a car. Given Volkswagen’s big plans for its new ID.4 electric compact CUV, the automaker now is trying to explain EV economics to as many folks as will listen.
There are two main ways that pricing an EV differs from buying a traditional vehicle: the possibility of tax incentives and lower running costs.
EV fans in the U.S. have known this since at least 2008, when President George W. Bush signed into law an economic bill that included federal EV tax credits.
But just because something has been around for over a decade doesn’t mean everyone knows about it. This is why VW highlights both of these aspects in its messaging to prospective ID.4 buyers.
To start, the ID.4’s MSRP is $39,995, but VW says that could be as low as $32,495 after the federal tax credit for EV buyers. Leasing an ID.4 starts at an estimated $379 per month for 36 months, with $3,579 due at signing, and not counting fees. This lease is for 10,000 miles (16,100 km) a year, so it won’t be for everyone.
Plus, choosing an ID.4 Pro in the top-level Statement trim with all-wheel drive and other options pushes the MSRP to $49,675 plus a not-yet-known destination charge. The estimated lease price for this version is $540 per month for 36 months, with $3,668 due at signing.
No matter which ID.4 you might be interested in, you can’t stop doing math after those purchase numbers.
An EV’s lower operating costs result in part from the fact that using electricity to move is almost always cheaper than using gasoline. In VW’s cost calculations, each month that you drive an ID.4 instead of the average new vehicle – i.e., one that gets 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) – you’ll save about $58, or about $700 a year, using home charging.
When you’re not charging at home, VW is including three years of unlimited DC fast charging on the public Electrify America network (below) with new ID.4 purchases.
VW set up Electrify America as part of its Dieselgate scandal penance, and it currently offers 487 stations with more than 2,000 fast chargers across the U.S. An additional 175 locations are coming soon.
“Because we worked from the customer experience back to the product, we have things like 125-kW DC fast charging, which will allow people to charge very quickly with these stations, and when they’re doing it, they’re going to be doing it for free,” says Dustin Krause, VW’s sales director for North America.
One thing to note if you’re crunching numbers and thinking of resale values is that an ID.4’s Electrify America benefit is not transferable to a second owner.
EVs also require less maintenance, so oil changes and similar costs are simply eliminated. Some gas-powered vehicles are sold with a few years of maintenance costs included, but even so, the ID.4 comes with two years of VW’s Carefree Maintenance (or 20,000 miles [32,200 km], whichever occurs first).
On the tax-credit front, VW highlights not just the federal tax credit worth up to $7,500, but also some of the generous state credits for purchasing an EV or installing a home charger: up to $5,000 in New Jersey and $4,000 in Colorado.
California, the EV leader in the U.S., offers up to $2,000 as well as HOV lane access for EVs. VW does not try to put a value on time saved with this benefit.
Part of the ID.4’s reason for existence is to be an electric vehicle for the “average American family,” VW says, which means it’s not an EV with the most flashy features, something Duncan Movassaghi, VW sales and marketing’s executive vice president, says the automaker fully understands.
A number of higher-end EVs offer over-the-air (OTA) updates, but Movassaghi dismisses this tech as something not everyone needs, despite the fact that VW is working on it. For the ID.4, the emphasis is on getting the cost right, he says.
“Honestly, (OTA) has been less about a value thing and more the coolness and the newness of the whole concept, which has obviously resonated very, very positively with customers,” he says. “At launch, that's not our focus.”