One of the biggest areas of concern that people have when it comes to electric cars is how they perform in cold weather. We are told to no end that the cold reduces the performance capacity of the electric battery, which thus reduces the overall range of the vehicle. It’s all to do with the necessary chemical reactions that happen in batteries not happening fast enough when the battery is at too cold a temperature.
There is a solution, however, that helps the battery get itself into the right condition before you actually set off from your parking spot, and that’s the preconditioning or preheating feature. Different brands may call the feature different things, but it invariably comes in the form of a feature available in the connected smartphone app that pairs your device with your car.
Drivers of the VW ID.3 and ID.4, for instance, have an app called WeConnectID that brings functionality for their car to the convenient location of their smartphone. In today’s blog, we’ll be looking at the preheat function in WeConnectID, what it does, how to use it, and how it benefits your car when you use it.
What Preheating Functions Do VW ID Models Offer?
The preheating options in both the VW ID.3 and VW ID.4 electric cars are offered as part of the WeConnectID app and online services packages. To get access to these functions, owners of a VW ID vehicle will have to do the following things:
- Step 1: Download the WeConnectID app
- Step 2: Set up a user account
- Step 3: Add your VW ID car
- Step 4: Activate by following the on-screen step-by-step instructions
As for preheating functions, you can set them in numerous ways. First, you can activate them via the app remotely, simply turning them on and off there and then. So, if you’re getting ready to leave the house in 10 minutes, you could activate the heating on your app so the car is nice and warm for you by the time you get in and get ready to go.
In addition, these settings can be quite specific about which zones you want to heat up, so you can set it just to heat the driver’s seat if you’re going alone and want to save energy.
You can also pre-set a departure time on your phone and the app will handle it automatically. If you normally set off at 8:30am, then the app will know and prepare the car accordingly so that by 8:30am your car will be the perfect temperature for you.
The app can be used not just for preheating, but pre-cooling the car too in the warmer months. You can also use it to set up your overnight charging schedule so that not one moment of charging time is done during on-peak hours.
Of course, the preheating measure isn’t just a question of getting the cabin to a nice temperature, but also to bring the battery to a safer and more efficient temperature as well.
The bad news is that VW’s preheating function doesn’t yet work on the battery. Users have reported that despite their car being preheated, the increase in predicted range they would expect to see on the dashboard doesn’t appear, which suggests that the battery is still cold.
There was some speculation that VW was going to add this function in a software update, but there’s no news yet.
The best thing to keep your battery in good condition is to have it charging right up to the point you’re getting ready to leave. Charging it will also ensure that you don’t have any net drain effect from using your preheating function in the morning. If you’ve just finished charging as you prepare to set off, then your battery should reach an optimum temperature very quickly once you’re on the road.
Problems with Preheating
Some users have been heading to the forums and message boards to share some issues they’ve been having with the zoned pre-heating function on their VW ID vehicle. Namely, they have noticed that they are setting the app to preheat the driver’s seat, but when they arrive at the car, it’s the front passenger seat that has been heated and the driver’s seat is still cold. At least, they thought they were preheating the driver’s seat.
If you take a look at the people experiencing this problem, however, they all have one thing in common — their cars are right-hand drive models, meaning the steering wheel and driver cockpit is placed on the right-hand side of the passenger cabin. In other words, these are British and Irish cars.
In Europe, the UK and Ireland are the only major markets that drive on the left-hand side of the road, making the cabins right-hand drive. When a similar issue was reported on the Skoda Enyaq and even Audi e-trons (both VW-owned, by the way), it seems that the problem is a simple oversight.
The software used to control the heating function, it seems, has Driver and Front Passenger identified as left and right…but still set to a left-hand drive vehicle setting. What’s more, the “left” and “right” refer to the seats as they appear when you look at them standing in front of the car. Confusing, right?
This explains why for some people who haven’t had this software fixed yet they are accidentally heating up the wrong seat. Problematic software was in the app version 2.0, but many users have pointed out that it has been fixed on the 2.1 version
VW fixed the issue on its other brands by simply referring to the seats as left and right instead of driver and passenger.
One ID owner said he was having issues with his zonal controls, only to find out later that the cause of all his trouble was that the VW dealership that he dealt with hadn’t activated the climate certificates in his car. The owner had paid for certain multi-zone functionality in the preheating and climate controls, but the dealership had left the vehicle set as a more basic single-climate model. The lesson here is that if you’re experiencing these problems, check with the dealership.
Summary – A Few Do’s and Don’ts
So, if you want to get the most out of your preheating function, then it seems a few do’s and don’ts are in order.
- Do – Check with your dealership if you’ve bought zonal temperature controls and they’re not working at all. It’s a bit different if the zonal controls seem to come and go, which is more likely due to a software glitch, but if it appears you can never use them, it’s more likely the dealership has made a mistake.
- Don’t – Assume that your preheating will get the battery up to temperature as well. Don’t panic when you see that your range is still lower than you thought after preheating. You can fix that by instead having the battery charging right as you prepare to leave, and then it will fully warm shortly after you start the car up and begin your journey.
- Do – Make use of the WeConnectID app to pre-set the heating and charging times so that everything works in sync. This makes the preheating function all the more convenient and enjoyable.
- Do – A test run of your preheating features. Make sure that when you press on the driver’s seat to heat up, that it’s actually the driver’s seat that warms and not the front passenger seat. If it appears wrong, double check your software version and see if there is an update you need to install.
- Don’t – Worry about preheating using up all of your battery. It will certainly take up some of your charge, but if you’re still plugged in, then it won’t be a problem, and even if you’re not, it’s only a very small amount compared to your entire range and there’s nothing to worry about.