Experiences of buying and using electric vehicles

I am on EV number 5, so I’m a bit of a veteran.

I’ve had 2 of the early Renault Zoes, a 30kwh LEAF, a 40KWH LEAF & I have just collected a new i3S 120Ah. At no point in 5 years of EV driving have I felt driving an EV has compromised my ability to complete a trip, mostly I guess due to actually planning my longer trips carefully, to have a contingency plan should my preferred charge point on the route fail to work.

The Zoe was cheap “in” to the world of EV’s, sadly the first Zoe died after 4 days with traction battery failure.

Along came Zoe 2, after a week it had A/C issues that resulted in multiple, repeat returns to the Renault garage to have rectified, after a year of Zoe 2 I decided it was time to move to a more grown up EV, that’s when the 30kwh LEAF came along.

The 30kwh LEAF was an excellent car, I could never get away from it’s ugly duckling looks though. Add to that the fact I was travelling from Bristol to the Williams F1 teams base in Oxfordshire every day a further range upgrade was needed as I really wanted to do the trip without stopping to charge, fortuitously the 40kwh LEAF was announced at the same time.

I collected the 40kwh LEAF 2.Zero on 1st March 2018, the snowiest day I can remember for many years. This car was excellent, the range was great, I loved the Spring Cloud Green colour, it had a great level of standard equipment including steering assist & intelligent cruise control. It was quiet, smooth, comfortable…and theirin lay the problem for me. I’m a massive car nut, I’ve raced cars & karts for year, so the car was just too…dull. So an alternativ, more exciting EV was required.

I was all set to lease a Tesla Model on a 4year agreement (25k miles a year) until I realised the warranty was only 50k miles, that would entail me running a Tesla (arguable not the most reliable car around) for 2 year, unwarrantied, with the associated risk of Tesla-esque repair bills.

Now I’ve always thought the BMW i3 was a funky looking car, so arranged with Cotswold BMW to borrow one for a weekend, the same weekend we spent looking at Kia e-Niros & Hyundai Kona EVs. The deduction after a long weekend with it was that it had stupid doors & a tiny boot, but a certain charm I could not put my finger on. Maybe it was my inner geek, I’m a motorsport designer, so the bare carbon appealed, as did the low (for an EV) kerb weight. Clearly the design team at BMW knew what they were doing.

The loan car was returned on the Monday morning, we did some numbers on a standard i3, 2 year lease & the figures were great, however, all the time the i3S in the showroom was calling my name, nagging in the back of my mind, it’s looked so smart. As luck would have it there was no stock of standar i3’s in the country, so I simply “had to have” the I3S that was in the showroom, how unfortunate!!!

It’s a different animal to the standard i3, stiffer roll bars, spring & dampers, heavier steering, wider tires on bigger rims & a few 10ths off the traffic light grand prix 0-60 all add up to something that, for an EV, feels rather special & is actually a great drivers car.

Sure nothing gets you away from the fact fact the tyres are very narrow, so cornering speeds are grio, not bravery limited, but with a deft touch on the steering & throttle very decent pace can be maintained. A car you actually have to drive, which is after all what I was after.

As a side note it would appear to be about 10%more efficient than the LEAF 40kwh on the same daily commute.


5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Experiences of using electric vehicles (EVs)