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Well I live in the Lake District, there are minimal electric chargers, the car has a small boot and can only go 170miles and then needs to be charged. Why oh why would I have an electric car when there are larger more middle of the road cars to be had??
Well the truth is I wanted something different, yes there are savings to be had and environmental benefits to be shared but actually for the last 10 years or so, 4 or 5 changes of car have not really excited me with the progression I have seen. I’ve had from new BMW 535D, Volvo XC60, Toyota Avensis * 3 and apart from the power of the BMW they were all similar and I wanted something different.
Well I read with interest about electric cars the pro brigade and the naysayers and both sides appeared to have strong arguments…….I still read the arguments aswell!
Well late 2018 I borrowed a Nissan Leaf to see what all the fuss was about. I was impressed with the quietness not so impressed with car….too slow/minimal range…..however I thought that if the technology advanced then electric was something to be considered.
Fast fwd to the middle of 2019 Volvo XC60 D5 RDesign lease coming to an end and actually I was quite glad….It was noisy, slow, old tech actually quite agricultural and fundamentally boring…. (sorry if you have one and like it, I didn’t).
So I did what everyone else does, looked at the lists, read the reviews, got overwhelmed and then hoped more exciting vehicles would become available because the cars on offer felt like the Volvo XC60…..
When the Ioniq and the I3 appeared I thought Christmas had arrived early here was potentially something different.
The deposit for the Ioniq was ridiculously high so ruled it out of the selection process however the I3 was definitely an option. I went for a test drive taking my boy and was blown away with the tech, the performance, the quietness and how fundamentally different it was from any other car I had ever been in. Within 30 minutes we had decided that we were going to have one and we would have to work around its shortcomings (more on that later).
We ordered an I3S (sportier version of I3 larger motor, lowered suspension, wider wheels, different styling). It was in Jacara beige, new colour this year with a 42kw battery good for 170 miles in summer reduced to 140miles when it’s a little colder (I’ve achieved this range in the last couple of weeks).
Before the car arrived we needed to install a home charger, this was managed through BMW and really quite professionally because I was keen that the charging cable didn’t become a trip hazard or restrict access when the car was charging.
October 23rd it was handover time, Volvo left at the dealership and I3S collected, I was quite happy with my homework and Youtube watching so the new car didn’t really phase me although I did need the help of Facebook forums to sort out some small niggles (all my operator error). Interestingly I felt I knew more about the I3S than the salesman a fact which surprised me given the I3 has been for sale for 4 years now and isn’t really a new model.
Rolling forward to December, 6 weeks of ownership has passed really quickly, 2700 miles on the clock and no reason to contact the dealer at all. All charging has been done at home apart from once when I wanted to see if I could public charge (I didn’t actually need to, but wanted to be able to operate public chargers should I need to).
The car is extremely futuristic internally (read space ship!) different materials, 2 large display screens, subtly placed buttons, no central drive train tunnel. No rattles, no noises and actually I sometimes choose to drive in absolute silence apart from the hum of the tyres. Lots of USBs available aswell.
The seats are quite far back in the car which almost makes it feel like a two seater, the suicide doors are distinctly odd and interestingly the front seatbelts top body mounts are located in the back door frame.
I specced improved audio, which I do like and having such features of Spotify, BBC news, the local weather, Wikipedia directly on the big screen is very different to the almost prehistoric Volvo.
Probably my favourite bit of the car is the performance. Press the quiet pedal from the lights and it engages immediately and pushes on quickly…..its the fastest BMW 0 to 30mph ever produced and boy it shows. No noise and the large wheels, stiffened suspension help it to navigate bends well. Clearly progressing quickly consumes battery power (as it would reduce fuel of an ‘ice’ internal combustion engine). To this end it has 4 different economy modes which each reduce performance but increase battery range. The I3 has regenerative braking which actually charges the battery when coasting or slowing down a feature can see range actually increase on a journey…..Never seen that before!
I expected to change my driving habits more than I have, I thought I would worry about range (I did worry once 68 mile journey required, 72 miles indicated on the battery. I drove very carefully and actually completed the journey with 5 miles left in the battery). Once I forgot to lock the car which then stopped it charging overnight automatically, luckily I had enough range but it could have a problem…..
The boot is small of this there is no doubt, however I still have managed to get 4 adults with tennis bags an hour down the road and back for a cost of 80p
I have solar panels on my house, its not too effective yet for powering the car because this time of year is not good for solar generation however from probably March to October (so long as the car is available to charge whilst the sun is shining ) I am hoping to take advantage of the rays and turn them into miles. The charger has an intelligent mode which chooses within reason when to charge (cheap tariff, solar, need).
One nice feature the car has is the ‘Connected’ App which essential controls the car from your phone, set your departure time and the car will be warm, demisted and good to go. Its been nice this last few days…..You can set your sat nav, send your car an email, change the display, see how efficiently you have driven compared to other I3 owners.
It has a really tight turning circle so is easy to park, visibility because of lots of glass is good (however a bit limited out of rear) and once you are in the car its quite roomy. The doors are of the suicide nature and in order to get out of the rear, both front and rear doors need to be opened which sometimes makes it difficult to get out in supermarket parking spots.
One thing I have picked up through the Facebook forums is that many of the public charging spots are free, particularly in Scotland. Not once have I not been able to go where I want because the car was low on charge, so I do feel the car suits my lifestyle.
Did I make the right choice for me and my family? Absolutely I thought that I would have to change my habits to accommodate the car, actually I haven’t really although the car took a bit of getting used to initially (is it charging??). One thing I have noticed is the savings are phenomenal. I roughly estimate its cost £60 in electricity to do 2700 miles, my Volvo would be close to £500…..So for me I am delighted with my choice. I love driving it, it makes me smile in a way previous cars didn’t…
I do feel I can comment from a position of strength because I actually drive an electric car, many people judge when they have never even sat in one…….Please feel free to quiz me?