Technology750 km, mountains and snow: what is the Volkswagen ID.7 worth on...

750 km, mountains and snow: what is the Volkswagen ID.7 worth on a long journey and in cold weather?

After years dominated by SUVs, with the exception of the giant Tesla Model 3, electric sedans are rearing their ugly head. At Volkswagen this return to the forefront is embodied by the ID.7 which has often been associated with an electric Passat. If its thermal alter ego is an outstanding road car, what is really going on with VW’s first electric sedan?

Although it really convinced us with its qualities on the road and the progress of its interior during our first test, the ID.7 did not have time to prove itself where we probably expected it the best: on a long journey. And for good reason, on paper, the ID.7 is one of the cars with the best autonomy at the moment, 620 km according to WLTP certification.

© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com

To get an idea of ​​its real capabilities, we confronted it with what could be considered the ultimate test for an electric car claiming to be roadworthy: a long motorway journey and an ascent to the summits… in subzero temperatures if it Please !

The conditions of our long autonomy trial

Our route starts in the north of the Paris region and ends on the peaks of the Vanoise park at an altitude of almost 1,900 km. 746 km long, it mainly consists of a (very) long motorway section up to Modane before beginning a final climb of 45 km. Concretely, the journey could be split into two blocks, very uneven, but particularly demanding for an electric car battery, especially in winter. A first portion of 701 km of motorway and a second of 45 km of secondary network, uphill.

Furthermore, we chose to make this journey mainly at night in order to have the majority of the journey without slowdowns. Thus, we were able to drive for a maximum of time at 130 km/h or 110 km/h depending on the authorized speed. Only two sections of around ten kilometers, relatively congested, broke this dynamic. They of course have an impact on overall consumption, but this can be considered marginal.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – First consumption report after 319 km traveled.

As for the ID.7 model tested, it is simply the ID.7 Pro in Life Max finish, that is to say, the most common model of the VW sedan, sold for 59,990 and to which some comfort options have been added. This is equipped with the traditional 77 kWh battery as well as a 210 kW motor unit (or 286 hp). Our model was also equipped with a heat pump, an option costing 1150 euros, as well as winter tires for which it should be remembered that they have no less impact on the range of an electric car.

750 km in two stops, mission impossible?

Our outward journey starts with a full battery, which allows us to hope for a first stop as far away as possible. The driving conditions are not optimal as our departure in the middle of the night takes place at a temperature close to 0°C. The first kilometers are among the most demanding of this part of the journey and for good reason it is a question of bringing the passenger compartment to the right temperature in addition to the battery.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com

However, the first stop will not take place before kilometer 319. At this time, our battery indicates a remaining charge of 6% which could have carried us a few dozen more kilometers, provided you are playful or have the certainty of being able to charge at any time. After three hours of driving, we head for our first fast recharge at an Engie terminal. So far, our consumption is nothing extraordinary, it is 21.4 kWh per 100 km, but three elements must be taken into account to analyze it. The first is obviously the essentially motorway route. The second is the “cold start” and the relatively loaded weight of the vehicle (full trunk and four passengers on board). Finally, last but not least, is our use of battery preconditioning, a feature that allows the vehicle’s battery to be brought to the ideal temperature to optimize rapid charging. This is a very useful feature, we will come back to it, but it still consumes energy and therefore has an impact on average consumption.

In terms of fast charging, our test ID.7 is limited to 170 kW. We reached and even exceeded this value several times during our test, and that’s fortunate. But even more than the power peak, it is the charging curve which can vary the time spent at the terminal before leaving. During our first recharge, it took us 32 minutes to reach 81% battery. Beyond this threshold, the charging speed drops drastically (to less than 60 kW), so we decide to go for a second “run”. This has one sole purpose: to allow us to advance sufficiently to optimize a second recharge which should take us to the finish.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – Our second stop on the way out.

We stop 250 km later with 11% battery remaining on the clock. We are at kilometer 569. We have 177 kilometers left to cover which should be child’s play if it were not for the prospect of these 44 km of final ascent during which we will swallow 900 meters of altitude difference. Useful clarification: on this second motorway portion, our consumption decreased slightly. It is now “only” 20.6 kWh/100 km, which ranks the ID.7 among the most efficient electric cars on the highway.

This last stop on the Fastned network could have been reduced to the duration of the previous one, that is to say a little more than 30 minutes, the time to reach 80% autonomy. This is especially true since during this recharge, we were able to exceed the theoretical charging power of the vehicle and increase to 184 kW. But, this express recharge as well as a desire to stop for a few more minutes for breakfast after a long night of driving got the better of our vigilance. Our break ultimately lasted 44 minutes, which allowed our ID.7 to return to 99% battery. This is of course part of the hazards of a journey, but the important thing is elsewhere: if we judge by the consumption we had during the rest of our journey, the result is that a stop of 30 minutes and A battery charged to 80% would also have allowed us to go to the end without shaking.

Because, in the end, these last kilometers were completed without incident. We arrive at our destination with 37% battery. Our consumption was definitely affected by the end of the route and this demanding climb for the ID.7. We finished this journey with an average consumption of 21.7 kWh, which taking into account the route, the driving conditions and the use of winter tires is a very good result.

Additional lessons on return

The return journey will be made without the slightest problem, in conditions quite similar to what we were able to achieve on the outward journey. In fact, it does not need to be detailed. On the other hand, it allowed us to learn some additional lessons about the performance of the ID.7 on long journeys and the possibilities it offers its owner.
On the one hand, reassured by our outward journey, we did not consider it essential to leave with a fully charged battery on the return journey. This started with an accumulator charged at 81%, a comfortable margin to reach a fast charging station.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – The importance of preconditioning the battery.

The first lesson concerns the ID.7’s regenerative capabilities. During our descent towards Modane, we recovered a significant amount of energy by maximizing smooth driving and controlled braking. The consumption of our ID.7 dropped to less than 6 kWh/100 km during this admittedly atypical phase, which counterbalances the excess consumption observed on the way up. Nevertheless, this short exercise gives an overview of the ID.7’s capabilities to recover energy when braking, which are astonishing.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – We exceed the load capacities of the ID.7

The second lesson concerns the benefit of the battery preconditioning function. This can be activated manually from the energy menu of the ID.7 or integrated into the journey if you respect the recommendations of the autonomy planner. Please note, however, that the time required to condition the battery may vary depending on weather conditions or driving time. This feature is anything but incidental. Of course, it is possible to recharge your electric sedan using DC even if it has not been activated, but the optimization is real when you think about using it. In our case, without preconditioning, we did not exceed 165 kW peak over a session. On the other hand, by activating the battery heating, the charge is truly optimized and we exceeded the theoretical capacities of the ID.7 on several occasions, even reaching 186 kW, against 170 kW on paper. Furthermore, the function clearly indicates what the maximum DC charging capacity of the vehicle is at time “t” and to what extent it can be improved.

Consumption and trip cost

As we have seen, in these rather delicate conditions, our ID.7 did not exceed 22 kWh/100 km in average consumption. This even dropped slightly below 20 kWh on the highway in the most lenient part of the journey. And yet, with fairly cold temperatures, winter tires, a well-loaded car and a complex route, the ID.7 had a lot to do.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – Our first load on the Engie network.

Its consumption remains quite far from what its WLTP approval indicates (620 km), but this is due to the test conditions that we have just mentioned. Despite these, the ID.7 proved to us that it was capable of traveling more than 350 km on the highway on a charge, which remains a relatively rare feat at present. Above all, it is interesting to compare the new VW sedan with its previous models which nevertheless included a battery of similar size. An ID.4, for example, did not really convince us in an otherwise less complex motorway exercise. The progress made in battery software management, but also the aerodynamics of the sedan largely explain these differences in performance.

As for the cost of the journey, it obviously depends on the price that everyone will pay at the terminal and this can vary depending on their subscription plan, the operator or even the advantages offered by each manufacturer. However, if we had to give an idea, here is the calculation method that we applied: during our two stops on the way out we recovered 61.93 kWh, the first time on an Engie terminal and 66.09 kWh the second time at Fastned. If we apply the default rate per kWh with the first is 0.59 euros per kWh. Certain subscription plans allow this rate to be lowered to 0.30 euros per kWh. Consequently, the cost of our journey can be estimated between 38.40 euros and 75.5 euros depending on the case.

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© Dimitri Charitsis – 01net.com – Our average consumption on the journey.

The result is that the ID.7, in addition to being a serious and pleasant sedan to drive, is a real road car (within the limits of what is achievable today in electric). It is one of the rare models that allows you to undertake long journeys without experiencing the slightest worry. Ultimately, all it needs is a more efficient route planner to rank among the best.

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