The Volkswagen ID.4 is one of our 4 finalists for the 2021 CleanTechnica Car of the Year award. It’s a good all-around vehicle, not a bare-bones budget car, but one key thing I noted about the ID.4 as potential justification for winning your vote is that it’s cheaper than the other models on the list.

With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look at how low its cost of ownership might actually be, especially in comparison to one of the best selling vehicles in the US and worldwide, the Toyota RAV4.

The RAV4 had 47,078 sales in the US in March alone. It had 114,255 in the first quarter of 2021. This is a vehicle to beat, and one that the Volkswagen ID.4 actually matches up well against. They have almost identical width (73″) and length (181″ — ID.4, 181–182″ RAV4), and the RAV4 is just slightly taller (67–69″ vs. 64″). The ID.4 should offer a better driving experience but otherwise has pretty much the same type of comfort, tech, and style. Well, in my opinion, it looks much better.

So, what does a cost comparison look like?

Before I get into the results, it’s important to highlight that any comparison like this requires a dozen or so assumptions, and individual cases can certainly vary tremendously. So, take a look at the assumptions more closely on the bottom of the article, and feel free to copy the spreadsheet and input your own assumptions in order to use your story and your expectations as much as you can muster. I tried to come up with 1) a moderate scenario; 2) a “high-cost, high-mileage” scenario; and 3) a “low-cost, low-mileage” scenario for this article, but there are basically unlimited variations on the theme.

On to the results from my cost of ownership comparison! (Oh, also, note that I thought up the different assumptions for the 3 scenarios and put them in before looking at the results. I did not modify results to suit my expectations — my expectations were slim anyway since I thought the results could go either way — and just tried to use reasonable assumptions for a few very different lifestyles.)


In the scenario using moderate assumptions, the Volkswagen ID.4 undercut every RAV4 model I included. It even slipped in below the base price of the most bare-bones, basic version of the RAV4, the RAV4 LE. When you climb up the ladder — to trims that are actually more similar to the ID.4 — the gap gets truly notable. This first round of assumptions results in an $8,000 savings over 5 years if you buy an ID.4 instead of a RAV4 XSE Hybrid! (Yes, please.)

Looking at the next comparison, I ramped up the miles traveled, the cost of gasoline, and the cost of electricity. The result was actually similar, though, with the ID.4 still handily beating the competition.

It wasn’t until I got to a “low mileage, low range” scenario that the ID.4 snuggled in between the higher-cost RAV4 EVs and the lower cost RAV4 EVs. Still, even in this scenario that is more challenging for an EV like the ID.4, it is doing quite well with a lower cost than the RAV4 XLE Hybrid or RAV4 XSE Hybrid.


All scenarios include these assumptions: $3000 down payment, 4% interest over 5 year loan period for remaining cost, $7500 federal tax credit for ID.4, $800 5 year maintenance cost for ID.4 and $2430 5 year maintenance cost for RAV4 models; 30 MPG for RAV4 LE and 40 MPG for the three hybrid RAV4 options; 2.857 miles/kWh efficiency for ID.4; no assumption for resale value after 5 years — add in your own expectation on that.

* This scenario assumes 13,300 miles driven a year; $0.11/kWh average rate for charging (across all charging in all locations across all 5 years); $3/gallon average across 5 years.

** This scenario assumes 20,000 miles driven a year; $0.30/kWh average rate for charging (across all charging in all locations across all 5 years); $4/gallon average across 5 years.

*** This scenario assumes 10,000 miles driven a year; $0.07/kWh average rate for charging (across all charging in all locations across all 5 years); $2.20/gallon average across 5 years.

Sources: Toyota, Volkswagen, US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Edmunds (but with the RAV4’s 5 year maintenance cost cut in half)


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Photos courtesy of Volkswagen


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