Why did VW post an incomplete car wash video on E-cars?

Is putting your car in N always a good idea?

German car company VW recently posted an instruction video on YouTube, posing the question “Can I drive my ID.4 through a car wash?” But instead of addressing the real challenges of modern E-vehicles in car washes, the answer is quite generic. What’s even worse, the instructions are incomplete and could cause accidents with other brands.

Just like old-fashioned cars, electric vehicles need to be cleaned and serviced on a regular basis. The type of drive makes no difference when it comes to soiling and cleaning. Last month, German car company Volkswagen published a video around the classic question if an e-vehicle survives a car wash tunnel.

“I realize that water and electricity don’t go well together”, the main character says to himself before he calls a female friend to get some answers. “Of course an e-car can be washed in a car wash”, she replies. “The electrical systems are protected against any kind of water.” With a wink, she adds, “Keep in mind that an e-car should be able to drive through rain.”
The female character then gives some basic instructions like: close all windows and keep the trunk locked, set your stick to “N,” disable the automatic wipers, and fold in the side mirrors when prompted.

But is it really that simple?

Fatal consequences

Modern vehicle models are often quite challenging. Numerous assistance systems, comfort functions and electronic features make the use of a car wash complicated. The warning for automatic vehicles: ‘Get out of gear, put the automatic selector lever in ‘N,’ turn off the engine, don’t steer, don’t brake.’ works for most cars. But not every car. In some cases, the default setting in N can have fatal consequences.

the video was shot at CleanCar. The employees at this German car wash in Berlin-Heinersdorf are well aware of the complex matter, said a spokesperson to Carwashpro.de when they called them. “Some cars often have an electronically controlled parking brake. In these vehicles, this is activated as soon as the ignition is switched off. This happens regardless of the gear selected, even when it is in ‘N’. The result: the wheels of the car will lock, making it jump off the chain with possible damage as a result. Or even worse, it will also damage the following vehicle if it is pushed onto the blocking car.”

The focus should be on the drivers

Not every modern car can give problems in the car wash. Often the driver is not familiar with the many functions and innovations of his vehicle. CleanCar employees see this all the time. “Especially older vehicle owners are overwhelmed and no longer understand their cars. In these cases, our customer advisors turn into patient coaches who help customers get through the car wash safely.
“For our employees, providing assistance is not that complicated, since about 90% of models function similarly – whether it’s an e-vehicle or simply a new model. The challenge is more a matter of recognizing which driver is overwhelmed by their vehicle.”

With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the VW video is receiving sceptical comments on YouTube. Posing the question about modern e-vehicles in car washes is one thing, giving a balanced and complete answer is another.

The question remains, why did VW choose to oversimplify this important matter?

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Author: Rene Passet

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