Volkswagen's first mass-market electric car to arrive in the US, the ID.4, could pose the biggest threat yet to Tesla's Model Y. Both are family-friend compact SUVs with practicality, design, performance and value as the cornerstones of their existence.
The Tesla will be the default choice for many, given Elon Musk's company's track record for producing desirable electric cars backed up by a first-class charging network. But the company is not without its problems, with unreliable build quality a primary concern. In the other corner, Volkswagen has decades of experience building vehicles for a global market on an enormous scale.
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For this comparison we will be looking at the Volkswagen ID.4 Pro, which has just received its EPA range rating and isn't a limited-run model like the sold-out ID.4 1st Edition was.
Tesla Model Y vs Volkswagen ID.4: Size and capacity
The Tesla Model Y has a front trunk that the VW misses out onTesla
The slightly older of the two vehicles, the Tesla Model Y measures 187 inches long, 75.6 inches wide and 63.9 inches tall. Meanwhile, the VW ID.4 is 180.5 inches long, 72.9 inches wide and 64.4 inches tall, making it noticeably shorter, slightly narrower and with a higher roofline.
Comparing stowage space is more difficult because Tesla only presents a total figure that includes the rear truck with the seats folded down, plus the front trunk. For all of that, the company claims a total of 68 cubic feet. By comparison, Volkswagen says the ID.4 has 64.2 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down, but no front trunk (or frunk, if you insist). The Model Y can be ordered with five or seven seats, but the Volkswagen has only the former.
Tesla Model Y vs Volkswagen ID.4: Drivetrain and performance
Interior of the Tesla Model YTesla
As of April 2021, there are two versions of Tesla Model Y, both with a pair of motors to provide all-wheel-drive. The ID.4 is currently only available as a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive vehicle, but with dual-motor, all-wheel-drive being available in the US from September 2021, for a $3,680 premium (more on price later).
The entry-level Model Y is called the Long Range. It has a top speed of 135mph and hits 60mph in 4.8 seconds. The more expensive Performance version ups the top speed to 155mph and lowers the 60mph sprint time to 3.5 seconds. By comparison, the only version of ID.4 currently available in the US has a top speed of 100mph and a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds. If you want a quick EV, then there really is no contest between the two – but we feel the ID.4's performance is still perfectly adequate given the type of car it is; namely, a practical family vehicle.
The dual-motor ID.4 is expected to be quicker when it arrives later in 2021, but is unlikely to pose a threat to Tesla in the performance stakes.
Tesla Model Y vs Volkswagen ID.4: Range and charging
More relevant to the real world is range. For this, The Model Y Long Range has an EPA estimate of 326 miles, while the more powerful Performance version can cover 303 miles between visits to the charger.
The EPA has just this week announced a range for the ID.4 Pro of 260 miles, which is 10 miles more than the sold-out ID.4 1st Edition.
Tesla still holds the upper hand when it comes to charging, thanks to its Supercharger network which is both fast, reliable and widespread across the US, Europe and beyond. While it doesn't have an own-brand network of its own, VW is part of the Electrify America charging network, which currently has more than 2,400 DC fast chargers at over 560 stations across the US, with those numbers both on the up.
The Model Y can charge at a rate of up to 250kW when connected to the newest version of Supercharger, while the Volkswagen is limited to half that, at 125kW. VW says the battery can fill from five to 80 percent in about 38 minutes.
Tesla Model Y vs Volkswagen ID.4: Driver assistance
Interior of the Volkswagen ID.4Volkswagen
The Tesla comes with a form of the company's Autopilot driver assistant system as standard. When enabled, this keeps the car in its lane on the highway, while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and managing stop-start traffic without driver intervention.
For an extra $10,000 Tesla offers what it calls Full Self-Driving Capabilities. As of April 2021 this includes automatic lane changing on the highway, automated parking, summon (where the car drives itself unoccupied across parking lots to your location), and the ability to read traffic lights. Tesla says automated steering on city streets will be available later in 2021.
Volkswagen includes its IQ.Drive system with the ID.4. This features automated steering to keep your vehicle in its lane when traveling above 37mph, autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian monitoring, adaptive cruise control to keep you at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead, and Travel Assist, which is a hands-on, semi-autonomous driving assistant similar to Autopilot. Unlike Tesla, Volkswagen is not yet selling software that claims to eventually offer a fully autonomous driving experience.
Tesla Model Y vs Volkswagen ID.4: Price
The Model Y is currently priced from $48,990 for the Long Range and $59,490 for the Performance. The Volkswagen ID.4 is priced from $39,995 for the Pro version, rising to $44,495 for the better-equipped Pro S model. The aforementioned dual-motor configuration adds an extra $3,680 when it arrives in the fall of 2021.