The plugalicious ID.4 is Volkswagen’s first electric vehicle that was built from the ground up to be an EV. The ID.4 has nearly 250 miles of range per charge, drives smoothly and nicely, and doesn’t pretend to be some kind of rich person’s toy. With the same interior room as a Tiguan despite it’s smaller stance and wheelbase, the ID.4 is a well-sized family car and daily driver.
In this interview inside a 2022 Volkswagen ID.4 electric car, Ryan Allen of VW talks about the car, its design impetus, and what its future might hold. This is VW’s first electric car made from the ground up to be so and it constitutes the beginning of a big push forward for the company as it goes fully electric over the next decade.
Watch for Aaron’s full review of the 2021 ID.4 coming to the channel soon.
While controversial on its launch, the Ford Mustang Mach-E has proven itself to be a winner to most of those who’ve driven it. In this video, we talk about the new electric crossover from Ford and about Kristin’s impressions and daily use of it for a week. Aaron tries not to ramble on about things too much too. It’s refreshing.
In this episode, Kristin and Aaron talk about family vehicles with a plug. Most plug-in hybrid vehicles and fully electric (EV) vehicles are not generally family-sized. There are a few, however, and the two of us have driven most of them. From the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Tesla Models X and Y, we talk family vehicles with plugs.
In this video, we explain what the various electrified vehicles are and give an overview of how they work and who they’re suited for. From fully battery electric EV options to plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, this video explains the basics to the consumer wondering about efficiency options. Got questions? Comment below or find us at http://www.DriveModeShow.com and ask. We’re happy to help.
In a new video from Hyundai, celebrating the launch of their latest fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), comes a great explanation of how hydrogen fuel cells work.
“Hyundai fuel cell SUVs, including both the current model NEXO and previous generation Tucson Fuel Cell SUV, have accumulated well over ten million miles on California roads, all while producing clean H2O emissions and no negative effects on the environment,” says Hyundai.
Is it time to make the switch to an EV?
The 2020 Nissan Leaf enters its second decade this year, which may be a surprise to those who think of electric vehicles as something new to the market. There aren’t a lot of EVs on the road, but they have been around awhile, just under the radar of most shoppers. That’s changing as the charging infrastructure improves and the number of EVs on the road slowly increases. Although the Leaf isn’t new, Nissan has continually upgraded their little EV with new features that give it wider appeal.
The big news this year is the addition of Nissan Safety Shield 360 as a standard feature. This includes key advanced safety technologies including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, rear automatic braking, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, and high beam assist. There’s also standard forward collision warning, lane change intervention, and blind spot intervention. These features make the 2020 Nissan Leaf a compelling choice for those who put a priority on safety.
No range anxiety here
One of the biggest considerations when buying an electric vehicle is range. There’s a considerable amount of worry that you’re going to run out of juice with nary a charging station in sight. That fear was a bit more warranted years ago before EV charging stations started showing up everywhere from malls to offices to grocery stores.
Even if there aren’t a lot of charging stations where you live, the reality is that most people drive less in a day than what an EV can handle. There’s a choice of two range options with the Leaf. The base Leaf is available in two trims with a 40 kWh battery and a range of 149 miles. The Leaf Plus has a 62 kWh battery that extends that range to 226 miles in a choice of three trims.
Look at those numbers for a minute. Most people don’t drive 149 miles in a day. Even fewer drive 226 miles. That means most people who purchase a Leaf will only ever need to charge it at home. While the Leaf might be a charging challenge on a road trip, it’s easily able to handle the average daily commute without requiring a desperate search for a charging station.
A well-equipped range of trims
Short-range versions of the Leaf are available in two trims with room for 5 passengers. The long-range Leaf adds a third trim with more comfort and convenience features. Standard Leaf features include manually adjustable front seats, suede seating surfaces, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with 4-speaker audio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
The SV adds the option for a power driver’s seat with heated front seats along with additional standard features including HD radio, 6-speaker audio, and NissanConnect EV with navigation. The SL makes the options on the SV standard and adds more premium touches. These include a standard 7-speaker Bose audio system, LED low beam headlights and daytime running lights, and leather seating surfaces.
The sound of silence
Driving an EV is something that feels a little weird at first. You push a button, the car is on, and you don’t hear an engine because there isn’t one. That lack of sound is true inside and out, which is why the government requires EVs make sounds anytime they’re operating at low speeds or moving in reverse. Pedestrians might not otherwise hear the vehicle and risk stepping into its path.
This year, Nissan upgraded those sounds to fall in line with U.S. vehicle regulations slated to go into effect on September 1, 2020. At speeds under 18.6 mph, it emits a constant tone and in reverse it emits a pulsing chime. Like the lack of noise when you turn on the Leaf, those sounds are a bit odd to hear at first, but quickly become a pleasant background to the drive experience.
The Leaf is a comfortable and responsive ride ideally suited to 4 passengers although 5 work for smaller trips. There’s minimal road noise, although wind noise picks up in poor weather. The large infotainment screen is a welcome feature and it’s well-positioned for both driver and passenger. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto keep you connected and the cabin’s smaller size makes conversation easy.
Driving with the e-Pedal
There are a several unique features found on the Leaf. First, the gear shift is a flat, round joystick on the center console. It’s easy to use, but not intuitive and takes time to become second nature. Another unique feature is the e-Pedal, which is engaged at the press of a button. With the e-Pedal, you don’t need to use the brakes and can instead use only the accelerator to bring the car all the way to a stop. This takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it and hop back into a car without this feature, you’ll realize how nice it is not to have to use two pedals to drive.
The 2020 Nissan Leaf is a solid choice for those in the market for an electric vehicle. A choice of three trims and two powertrains lets you pick the one that’s right from your needs and helps make the Leaf more affordable for those who drive shorter distances. The Leaf starts at $31,600 while the long-range Leaf Plus starts at $38,200 making it an affordable option in either guise.
Rivian says they’re on a mission to keep the world adventurous forever. Robert “RJ” Scaringe founded the company in 2009 with the idea that he wanted to find a more responsible way to explore the world and make the transition to sustainable transportation an exciting one. RJ earned his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was a member of the research team in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory.
Eleven years, millions of dollars, and the growth to a couple of hundred employees in seven locations later, Rivian is poised to launch its all-electric pickup truck. The R1T truck claims 400+ miles of range; an impressive 0-60 in three seconds; wading depth over three feet; max towing 11,000; and a a jaw-dropping 750 hp. The R1T is roughly the same length (within an inch) of a Jeep Gladiator and about a half-inch wider than a Honda Passport; it should be nimble enough for both work and play, city and country.
We spent a little time with Rivian chief engineer of special projects Brian Gase, who drove the brand’s in-development three-row SUV (the R1S) from the southern tip of South America all the way up to Los Angeles. But first, they had to design and install the electric infrastructure to do it. What is this upstart company up to?
Kristin Shaw: Hi, I’m here live at Fully Charged Live USA in Austin at COTA and I’m here with Brian Gase from Rivian. So we’re very excited to hear what Rivian is up to. Brian heads up special projects, which means he gets to do really cool stuff…
Brian Gase: Sometimes…
Kristin Shaw: …like driving from Argentina to L.A.
Brian Gase: Yup, so we ship vehicles end of August for durability testing. We went down the southern tip of South America and then drove for about 105 days up to L.A through all conditions and all weather. We’re doing tremendous amounts of durability testing on our vehicles, normal proving ground types of work. But we’re an adventure company first, so we went out and said, “Let’s do something that’s a little bit more extreme. Let’s build up the charge infrastructure and go and have this journey now that we’ve put that grid in place.” It was, for me, a really amazing lifetime experience. But also, seeing our vehicles on the road for the first time, driving along, was really, really cool.
Kristin Shaw: So you set up an infrastructure of charging stations along the way?
Brian Gase: Absolutely. We built basically two Level Two chargers every – give or take – one hundred miles throughout the route. The reason was, while the vehicles we took had a 300 mile range with it, you might not want to stop at the end of every day and fully charge it, so we put it in place so that we could stay where we wanted to, go off the path, go off-roading, do some cool things, see some really cool places.
Kristin Shaw: Which model did you take on this trip?
Brian Gase: We took two of the R1Ts.
Kristin Shaw: Okay. You went off-roading. So off-roading in a EV: what’s it like compared to a fuel-powered car?
Brian Gase: The cool side of it is: obviously, with four motors you’ve got all time, all-wheel drive, with independent power per wheel. The vehicle has a lot of capability. On the downhill side in an EV I no longer have to downshift the engine brake, I’ve got a generating system that’ll hold the vehicle in position on a hill. On one of the coolest weather days, we were up on this mountain and we took a bunch of photos, then we went down and the battery was at 6% more at the bottom than at the top.
Kristin Shaw: And now you’re offering a three-row SUV.
Brian Gase: Correct. The R1S has about a 12-inch shorter wheelbase than the truck. It’s built on the same chassis and is common forward of the B pillars, which helps us to develop it more quickly, keep investment low, and put out a vehicle that will be on the same line as its sister product, the truck.
Kristin Shaw: When is it going to be available?
Brian Gase: The truck will be end of this year and the SUV Q1 of next year (2021).
Kristin Shaw: And have you announced pricing?
Brian Gase: We’ve announced that it’ll come pretty well equipped so not fully loaded; it’s $72,500, before federal tax credit, and you can go up from there, with additional functions and features, or you can go down from there.
Kristin Shaw: Now I’m excited because the three-row SUV market is hot. Kia has the Telluride, and Hyundai the Palisade. The Rivian is going to be competitive.
Brian Gase: Absolutely.
Kristin Shaw: It might be one of the more expensive, but it’s an EV. What would make somebody choose the R1S: what kind of features do you offer, especially with regards to safety, that makes it comparable?
Brian Gase: That’s a great question. So I’m a family guy; I have a wife and three boys: a 10 year old and twin eight year olds. I actually joined Rivian in 2010, just before my kids were born. Safety absolutely matters, and our SUV is a vehicle designed to be safe. It’s set up that way. The most important thing to have at the end of the day is making sure that if something bad does happen, you’re as protected as you possibly can be. From the vehicle perspective, safety is one way we differentiate ourselves outside of just being an EV.
Also, we wanted it to be known as an adventure vehicle you can use to have family adventures, take your kids, get to the beach, go out on the trail, get up to the base camp that you’re hiking, whatever it is. There’s a lot of off-road capability with the vehicle, especially with the 400 or so mile range. It’s a comfortable seating pattern with a third row that will comfortably fit a child or an adult in the back seat.
Kristin Shaw: I know there are some automakers who are doing a really good job offering safety features standard. Is that the same with Rivian? It’s included in the base model?
Brian Gase: Yup, yup. So we have, some of our autonomous systems features are with the higher level trim packages but from advanced collision detection, all of that stuff is based on what is absolutely critical to us.
Kristin Shaw: And Brian, you’ve been with Rivian for eight years?
Brian Gase: Nine and a half. I joined in 2010.
Kristin Shaw: What was it like when you first started? What were you thinking, this new company…?
Brian Gase: It was a very interesting place. We were a really small team, and everybody was quick to align; we all had shared values and a shared vision of doing something better. From our CEO down, we’ve never wanted to build a car company or a vehicle just to put another car on the road. The goal isn’t to make another SUV so that you can have another three-row SUV in the market. The goal is to put a product out there that is compelling and exciting and different.
To get back to the family side, let’s make the world better for our kids and our children’s children. We feel that electrifying the vehicle space, doing it this way, where you’re not making tradeoffs and going into a smaller footprint vehicle, where you can still have your stuff, still have your adventure, and then being able to use those batteries sustainably for a second life, to electrify the grid that provides power to the vehicle.
The thing that won me over, the reason I joined Rivian and the reason I’m extremely excited to talk to people now is this. The product is great, but the leaders have always said, “We’re going to build this thing that doesn’t exist. We’re going to do something.” And you’re like “Yeah, but what about all these challenges?” We’ll solve the problems, we’ll bring in the funding, we’ll get the right team, we’ll get the right product. When you’re around people who are just eternally optimistic, it’s so refreshing. It makes you motivated to do what you’re doing. When we spend time with our CEO, R.J., we might say, “I’m going to tell him this isn’t going to work. I’m going in,” and you walk in, and by the time you leave, you’re saying “Why am I excited to do this thing?” And you know you got “R.J.ed” again.
Kristin Shaw: You got “R.J.ed”. It’s a verb.
Brian Gase: Exactly. The fun side of it though is as you build people that share those values and share that sense of “No, we’re going to do this because we’re determined and we’re passionate.” Because we’re big-picture thinkers. It’s really, really cool to be a part of. I mean it’s so much more exciting to work with positive people in general.
Kristin Shaw: That sounds like a great company to work with. How does it compare with its competitors?
Brian Gase: From a current market today, there are a few EVs out in space. But from a SUV perspective, finding a vehicle that does 0-60 in three seconds, has 8,000-pound towing capacity, goes through three feet of water, has 400 miles of range, and is built in America just doesn’t really exist out there. Competitors are a really interesting thing though, because you can look at us from specialty truck side: are we competitive with trucks or are we competitive with EVs?
We’ve got the performance specs of sports cars, and it’s this real cool dichotomy of this and that, where you can bring all these features of a sports car into this truck but it fits more of their stuff. Or from the perspective of the vehicle as a truck, you have the space but you’re not trading off all those other daily uses to emissions. We’re really proud of that combination.
Kristin Shaw: I think that’s where families are really going to see the difference. They buy vehicles for what they might do, maybe not what they do every day. They might tow a boat, they might tow a camper, they might need it to tow plywood or put furniture in it, but they can also not have a gas-guzzling vehicle.
Brian Gase: We’re an adventure brand; we want people to go out and see the world and do things. For me, my adventure is no longer going out and snowboarding with friends, it’s taking my kids to a park and hanging out with them. I’ve got three kids in Cub Scouts – I pre-ordered the R1T as soon as I could and I can’t wait to have the kitchen and go to the Cub Scout campout with my boys and pull out the kitchen and cook off my battery.
That, to me, is going to be such a cool experience for people to see that you can use this electric footprint to do some really amazing stuff, and you can do it in a way that you no longer have a gas-guzzling vehicle. For me, it’s a really cool story to be a part of.
Based in the midwest, Current Automotive not only has a nice double meaning to their name, but also specializes in helping customers find used EVs to match their lifestyles. Got questions about an electric car? Wondering which one might be right for you? Hoping to get an EV but don’t live where that particular model is sold? Current Automotive has you covered. Check these guys out.
At Fully Charged USA in Texas at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) center, Kristin talks with Rob Mantinen about the 2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV. Rob explains what’s new with the Bolt and the two talk about teen driving and how electric cars like the Bolt can be a great choice for that.