Volkswagen is talking up the new ID.4 as it prepares to release the all-electric compact SUV in the US market in mid-2021.
The ID.4 is slated to be the first VW electric vehicle to go on sale in Australia, and is the stablemate of the ID.3 electric hatch which is already on sale in Europe. A series of newly released videos include the ID. Light system which allows the vehicle to “communicate with light”.
One new video shared by Volkswagen demonstrates how a combination of voice control and a thin line consisting of 54 multi-coloured LED lights that run along the bottom of the windscreen allowing the driver to interact with the ID.4.
Voice control of features such as climate control is of course by no means new, but neither is it always consistent, nor what one could consider a natural conversational flow.
The ID.4 shares the ID. Light with the ID.3, which ended 2020 as the best-selling electric car in Europe for the month of December.
The idea behind the ID. Light is to create an interactive experience for the driver, as Mathias Kuhn, head of user interface design at Volkswagen points out.
“We were looking for a new kind of communication between the car and the human,” Kuhn said in a statement.
“We wanted to create a minimalistic, yet revolutionary interaction that was both easy to understand and emotional.”
The ID.4 includes a 12″ touchscreen for the Pro and First Edition models and 10” inch for the base model, but as Stefan Franke who designed the ID. Light notes, driver attention needs to stay mostly on the road, not the screen.
“As screens in the vehicle grow bigger, it can take more time for your brain to look at the display and process all the information you need to receive from them,” said Franke in a statement.
“Even hearing a navigation system tell you a direction makes your brain pause a second to understand the remark. We knew we needed to find new ways to communicate with drivers to help minimize distractions from the driving task.”
Hein Schafer, Senior VP for product marketing and strategy for VW America, also shared details of the ID.4 that will go on sale from $US39,995 ($51,598 converted) for the standard edition and up to $US45,995 ($A59,346 converted) for the Pro edition (all pricing are before a potential $US7,500 federal tax incentive).
In a walkthrough you can see below, Schafer notes a soft-touch release door release handle, plus the ability to open the trunk by waving your foot under the back of the vehicle make for easy entry to the vehicle.
The interior ID.Light is complemented by external light bars at the back and from of the vehicle which together create a signature style for the ID series.
Size-wise, the ID.4 has an upright C-pillar to allow for greater headroom in the back, which along with the absence of a tunnel in the floor means there is plenty of head and foot room for all passengers (which a 6’4″ Schafer demonstrates by sitting in the back)
An already generous boot (or, trunk) space doubles simply by putting the back seats down, and the floor of the boot can be increased again thanks to an adjustable “drop” floor.
Schafer adds that the ID.4 is “super-intuitive”, able to recognise the driver (with key in pocket) and activate the car when they sit down. The interactive experience is also enhanced by the leather wrap steering wheel with haptic touch, and ambient lighting which can be personalised via the touchscreen interface.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.