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Volkswagen's Electric ID.4 SUV Named 2021 ‘World Car of the Year'

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【Summary】This year’s World Car of the Year winner was Volkswagen’s new ID.4, the company’s first battery-powered SUV. The ID.4 was up against the Toyota Yaris and Honda e electric car in the category. The electric ID.4 is VW’s second EV released under its new ID family of vehicles. With its more affordable price, the ID.4 is being marketed as more of a mainstream EV with roughly the same performance of a similar gas-powered compact SUV.

FutureCar Staff    Apr 20, 2021 5:00 PM PT
Volkswagen's Electric ID.4 SUV Named 2021 ‘World Car of the Year'
The fully-electric Volkswagen ID.4 SUV.

Each year, automotive journalists from around the world vote for their picks for the best vehicles as part of the World Car Awards. For automakers, having one of their vehicle models win one of these awards can help to boost sales in the competitive global auto market.

The World Car of the Year Awards was established to recognize, reward and inspire innovation in a rapidly changing automotive industry that's moving quickly towards electrification. This year's World Car of the Year winner was Volkswagen's new ID.4, the company's first battery-powered SUV. The ID.4 was up against the Toyota Yaris and Honda e electric car in the category.

The World Car Awards are chosen by a group of 94 global automotive journalists who serve as "jurors" evaluating the various models in each of the five catergories. The group test drives and evaluates new or fully redesigned vehicles that are for sale on more than one continent from May to May each year.

The categories include World Car Design, World Luxury Car, World Performance Car, World Urban Car and World Car of the Year. However, the organization stresses that the awards are intended to complement and not compete with existing national or regional Car of the Year programs. 

The vehicles are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10 in eight categories, including Occupant Environment, Performance, Value, Safety,Environment, Market Significance, Emotional Appeal and Innovation.

Although the VW ID.4 edged out the Honda e in the Market Significance category, the Honda e received higher marks for innovation, which wasn't enough to win the title of World Car of the Year. The ID.4 scored 798, while the Honda e scored 742 respectively.

Other winners include the new Mercedes S CLass, which was named World Luxury Car. World Performance Car went to the Porsche 911 sports car, which edged out the Audi RS Q8. World Car Design of the year went to the Land Rover Defender SUV.  Other winners were the compact Honda e, which was named World Urban Car. 

Out of all the vehicles evaluated, the flagship Mercedes S Class received the highest combined score of 853.

2021_Volkswagen_ID4_2.jpeg

The minimalist interior of the ID.4.

The World Car Awards are in their 17th year, officially launching in Jan 2004. The annual automotive awards are the number one awards program in the world for the 8th consecutive year, based on Cision Insight's 2020 media report.

The ID.4 is VW's second electric vehicle released under its new ID family of EVs. As part of the automaker's "Transform 2025+" strategy, the Volkswagen brand will invest 11 billion euros in electric mobility by 2024. The ID.4 followed the ID.3 hatchback, which the automaker decided not to release in the U.S.

The ID.4 is being built on Volkswagen's new modular MEB EV platform. The new EV architecture consolidates all of the vehicle's electronic controls and reduces the number of microprocessors.

Previously, the awards included a World Green Car category for electric and hybrid vehicles, which strangely disappeared in 2020. However a new category devoted specifically to fully electric vehicles will be added next year.

As Tesla continues to dominate the EV segment, global automakers like Volkswagen are now following the company's lead and beginning to introduce their own electric models.

Volkswagen is planning to be one of the biggest global competitors of Tesla, with plans to have 50-70% of its models battery-powered by 2030. With its more affordable price, the ID.4 is being marketed as more of a mainstream EV, with roughly the same performance of a similar gas-powered compact SUV. 

The ID.4 models will have driving ranges of over 400 kilometers (248 miles) and support over-the-air software updates.

The ID.4 is poised to become a big seller for Volkswagen, as the SUV and crossover segment is one of the most popular with buyers in the U.S. The ID.4 has an MSRP of $39,995, but is eligible for the federal EV tax credit of $7,500, bringing the price down to $32,495.

The ID.4's biggest competitor at least for now is Tesla's Model Y crossover, which starts at $50,490 in the U.S., much more than the ID.4. The Model Y is not eligible for the $7,500 tax credit as Tesla reached the eligibility threshold of 200,000 qualifying vehicles in 2018.

Based on its lower sticker price, it seems as though Volkswagen will maintain its cost advantage over Tesla with the ID.4. However being named World Car of the Year might also help to boost sales of the ID.4. 

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