As the Volkswagen ID range of electric vehicles finally starts to grow and with more vehicles on the horizon, questions have already started erupting online about the towing capabilities of these vehicles. Curiosity has especially peaked with the 2021 release of the hotly anticipated Volkswagen ID.4 crossover electric SUV.
So what can these new VW electric vehicles tow? This is the core question guiding today’s blog. We’re going to try and let you know everything that you need to know about what these cars can tow and how they do it.
Background: EVs and Towing
It’s important to understand a little more about the concept of EVs and towing and why it has become a topic of interest to so many people. First, it’s crucial that we remember that EVs are still the new kid on the block as far as the automotive world is concerned. EVs may as well have just rolled up yesterday in the grand scheme of things, and that means there are many questions surrounding them and their operation.
We have all grown so accustomed to internal combustion engines that the way they work and the things they can do are all taken for granted whenever we think of a car, SUV or truck. Electric vehicles are changing all that and there are new rules, and towing is a big part of that.
The first concern among prospective EV buyers was that electric cars won’t be able to tow anything at all. This of course is nonsense because EVs are actually quite well placed to tow trailers and other things because of their instant torque that leaps into action as soon as you press on the gas pedal to make the thing go. That massive torque is very conducive to towing.
Another concern was whether or not towing would cause damage to the electric vehicle. This worry is a little more founded in reason because it’s well known that there are particular rules and requirements when it comes to towing some EVs. Either they have to be specially locked in gear, or somehow prevented from activating while being towed, or your only choice is a flatbed truck…the list goes on.
As it goes, new and larger electric SUVs have been emerging in the past few years that are proving that EVs are more than capable of towing without any complications or difficulties. So, let’s now turn to the VW ID family and look at what they can tow.
VW ID.3: Towing Guide
The first thing we need to say is that the VW ID.3 is not rated for towing. That means it is not a car designed to tow any kind of trailer or significant weight behind it. Now, this will come as strange news to many people who might have seen a VW ID.3 on the road, because one thing you definitely notice is that the ID.3 does have a trailer hitch. If it has a trailer hitch, how can it be that the ID.3 is not rated for towing?
As it happens, the VW ID.3 does have a tow hitch, but it’s only designed for mounting bicycle carriers, which of course are very light and could be towed by just about any vehicle, possibly even by a very determined person on another bicycle.
Some people have wondered why it is that the ID.3 was never rated for towing even though it has a tow hitch. There are competing explanations.
Some claim that VW is simply trying to conceal the fact that if one were to meet the ID.3’s real physical towing capacity, the battery and range would be so greatly reduced that it becomes a bad notion to even promote the idea of towing in that car. Others think that there is no tow rating because it’s genuinely not safe to tow anything more than the bike carrier. It’s hard to say for certain.
The first explanation doesn’t satisfy many because a reduction in range when towing a trailer is not something unique to BEVs. Of course, a gasoline car with an internal combustion engine also wouldn’t get as many miles to the gallon as it would without a trailer behind.
One other theory relates to there being a fee involved for OEMs to get tow ratings on their cars. It could be that as a smaller hatchback vehicle, VW didn’t feel it was worthwhile since almost no one would buy a car like the ID.3 if towing capacity was something they cared about a great deal.
VW ID.4: Towing Guide
Next we come to the ID.4 crossover electric SUV. This car was hotly anticipated and equally well received, winning numerous accolades for its design and quality, including World Car of the Year 2021 where it beat competition from both Honda and Toyota.
Volkswagen was quick to highlight the towing capabilities of their new ID.4, making it a part of the announcement during the official reveal in mid-2020. The ID.4’s low-end towing capacity is rated at 2,200-lbs, while the top end is 2,700-lbs. Not every market received this capacity from the offset.
The UK, for instance, only first received the 2,200-lb capacity in the form of the ID.4 1st model which was the first to enter the market and is RWD. The 2,700-lb rating is reserved for the AWD version of the car.
It should also be noted that this capacity is recommended only for use with braked trailers. Official information from the company said:
“Maximum tow rating for braked trailer only when equipped with appropriate third-party trailer brake controller and factory-installed towing hitch. Vehicle load, other accessories, and options may reduce maximum towing capacity. See vehicle Owner’s Manual for details.”VW ID.4 Towing Information
How does this tow capacity compare to the competition?
|Vehicle||Max. Tow Capacity|
|Chevrolet Bolt||2,000-lbs (ID.4 – 700-lbs)|
|Ford Mustang Mach-e||2,700-lbs (Equal)|
|Tesla Model Y||3,500-lbs (ID.4 + 800-lbs)|
|Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric||3,307-lbs (ID.4 + 607-lbs|
|Nissan Leaf||1,500-lbs max capacity|
From this we can see that the ID.4 doesn’t necessarily represent the best of its class, but it stands up quite well to the competition. Cars like the Chevy Bolt have been around a lot longer and have still to break the 2,000-lb mark, whereas the relatively new VW ID.4 is already doing better than the Bolt, and is equal with big Ford rival the Mustang Mach-e. It also beats out big crossover rivals the Toyota RAV4 (1,500-lbs) and fellow VW the Atlas Cross Sport (2,000-lbs).
The rating of up to 2,700-lbs is perhaps an indication that the towing capacity was put in with the European market more in mind rather than the American one. The US market is awash with SUVs that offer much greater towing capacities, though admittedly none of them are electric.
The Tesla Model Y is offering a much more US-centric number that people can accept. Numbers under 3,000-lbs work in Europe where towing is often more limited, but in the US people often say “tow big or go home.” Well, perhaps they don’t say that, but they mean that.
VW ID.Buzz (Cargo) – What We Know
One more ID model on the horizon is the very interesting electric revamp of the classic VW camper van, known as the ID.Buzz or the ID.Buzz Cargo. Caranddriver.com revealed many known details about the ID.Buzz which is scheduled for release in 2023 for the 2024 model year. Unfortunately, among the many details they do have, a towing capacity of the ID.Buzz is not among them.
Conclusion: Where Will Towing Go for VW ID Cars?
It will be interesting to see in future models if VW tries to make a play and increase the towing capacity to compete with the likes of Tesla and Volvo. VW has been showing signs of restraint this past year or two after losing billions in Dieselgate, and even forking over some $19.5 million in refunds to customers who found that their ID.4 heat pumps didn’t work properly when it got genuinely freezing cold.
What’s a little strange is that there was news back in September 2020 that VW had confirmed a much greater towing capacity of 4,200-lbs. Perhaps that will come in the near future? If they’d achieved that rating for this generation, they’d even have blown Tesla’s Model Y out of the water when it came to towing.
This caution may lead VW to hold back on adding more towing capacity until they can be sure that towing capacity is something that buyers of the ID.4 really want from this car. If there is more demand for that, perhaps they will make it so in the next generation or during the first facelift of the vehicle.