SUVs continue to boom. Your drivers love the feeling of space and the sporty driving pleasure. But is that still appropriate in view of an impending climate catastrophe? Frank Bekemeier, Chief Technology Officer E-Mobility at Volkswagen, and Jens Obernolte, Head of Energy and Weight Management, explain how the ID.4 GTX combines environmental awareness and driving pleasure. Read more in the current issue of the eMove360 ° magazine. Or in the following …
Mr. Obernolte, a climate-friendly SUV – isn’t that a contradiction in terms?
Jens Obernolte: No, on the contrary! At least if you do it like we do: The ID.4 GTX is a fully electric SUV that does not emit any exhaust gas, but offers a lot of power. You can be out and about with a sporty and at the same time highly efficient all-wheel drive with a clear conscience. At the same time, our customers can experience the driving experience and comfort of an SUV that many do not want to do without. And why should they?
What makes driving fun in the ID.4 GTX so special?
Obernolte: The great fascination in the ID.4 GTX is the silent power of the drive. If you fully depress the right pedal, up to 220 kW push – from a standing start, with great force and without any delay, but practically noiseless. From a standstill, the car can get to 100 km / h in 6.2 seconds, which is faster than the Golf GTI. And because the battery lies like a weight in the vehicle floor, the ID.4 GTX has a much lower center of gravity than conventional SUVs – that leaves it lying flat on the road.
The ID.4 GTX has a dual-motor all-wheel drive, i.e. an electric all-wheel drive with two independent electric motors on the front and rear axles …
Frank Bekemeier: … who is always active when you need him – for example when the driver wants to experience sporty driving pleasure. In most everyday situations, however, the electric motor in the rear can provide the drive on its own. We decided on a permanent magnet synchronous motor because it is particularly efficient. On the other hand, an asynchronous machine works on the front axle. It has other advantages – it is very compact and light, and it produces only minimal drag losses when it is not powered.
Does this make the dual-motor all-wheel drive in the ID.4 GTX particularly efficient?
Obernolte: Yes, it is. It works without a clutch and cardan shaft, i.e. without large components that cause friction losses in mechanical all-wheel drive. In the ID.4 GTX we only have to switch currents – but do so as intelligently and efficiently as possible. This also includes providing precisely the recuperation mode – i.e. the energy recovery mode – that is most efficient for the respective driving situation during the deceleration phases. In this way, consumption can be further reduced and the range increased.
Why is Volkswagen actually relying so heavily on battery-electric drives?
Obernolte: Because it is the most efficient way to use the energy used. Batteries and electric machines convert 70 to 80 percent of the energy used into propulsion. Neither a fuel cell car nor a combustion engine that runs on sustainably produced fuels, so-called e-fuels, can do that. There the efficiencies are in the range of 25 to 30 percent or even below.
What does that mean in concrete terms? How does the ID.4 GTX compare to a corresponding combustion model?
Obernolte: The ID.4 GTX consumes 16.3 kWh per 100 kilometers in the NEDC cycle. The corresponding combustion engine with a gasoline engine consumes around 7 liters per 100 kilometers – but that corresponds to energy of around 60 kWh, because its efficiency is more than three times lower than that of an electric car. It doesn’t look so much better with a diesel engine, we’re talking about 50 kWh per 100 kilometers.
Another great strength of the electric drive is its small footprint.
Bekemeier: Exactly. The internal combustion engine and its ancillary components are no longer needed, which means that we have been able to design a short front end and a correspondingly large interior. From the outside, the ID.4 GTX is a compact and agile SUV, but inside it offers plenty of space for the family and everything that should be on board. But the production of e-vehicles inevitably has a negative impact on the climate, especially when it comes to batteries.
Bekemeier: In fact, every one of our electric cars that comes off the production line in Zwickau carries a certain amount of CO₂ emissions. It not only includes production in the factory, but also the entire supply chain, including the manufacture of the battery cells at the supplier’s, which is done with green electricity. However, we hand over the car to our customers on a CO₂-neutral balance sheet because we offset emissions that we cannot yet avoid with climate protection projects. And when the battery has had its day, we can continue to use it as stationary storage and recycle it at the end. Our goal is to recycle more than 90 percent of valuable raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt as well as aluminum, copper and plastic.
The usage phase lies between production and recycling. And here an electric car drives emission-free around the world – if it is continuously charged with green electricity.
Obernolte: That is correct. If we compare the ID.4 with a conventional car, it always has a clearly positive CO₂ balance. If it is operated with the average EU electricity mix, its footprint is smaller than that of a comparable combustion engine after driving less than 100,000 kilometers. And when charging with green electricity, this tipping point is reached even a third earlier. That is why our brand is now promoting the expansion of renewable energies and is investing on a large scale in new wind and solar parks in Europe by 2025. We want to ensure that all the electricity that our e-fleet needs on the road comes from green energy.
You can also find this article in the current issue of the eMove360 ° magazine. Free download PDF.