The electric revolution is already well under and we are still eight years from E-Day. Last year one in 10 cars sold in the UK were electric and the E number will be even higher this year with more models hitting the showrooms.
Taking the plunge is a bit scary because there is no point in turning back but what is it like taking off on an electric journey? Let’s see if we can help with a day in the life of an electric car.
The car in question is Volkswagen’s ID.3, think of it as the new Golf because it is roughly the same size, but instead of engines the choice is battery kilowatt outputs, 45,58 or 77, the higher the number the more miles stored in the battery pack – 216, 258 and 340. My car is in the middle so here is a tale of two journeys.
Journey one kicks off at 9.15am and will run to 93 miles. ID.3 has been charged overnight from my Podpoint wall charger so 258 miles is available. Erm, no. The computer is showing a full 100 per cent charge but the range is 209 miles and there is another shock when 24 miles is wiped out when the heating is turned on.
Cold nights during charging has an impact, a slightly less colder night a few days later yielded 222 miles but still short of the claimed 258. Winter is not the best time for an electric car.
Heating the car is a drain on the battery pack too, but, and this is the strange one, using the heated seats and heated steering wheel is not, so I opted for a mix and match giving the car a blast of heat and then relying on the heated seat, all this while the outside temperature is an icy two degrees.
No chance of giving the car a top up at the end point, a crematorium, and I need to get straight home for my wife to visit a friend in Liverpool, an 84 mile round trip. I have used 50 per cent of the battery range (the information in the central touchscreen is brilliantly clear) and with 120 miles left she should make it but do we want to take the risk?
There is no off street parking at her friend’s house and as the nearest charging station is miles away the trip is delayed 80 minutes while the ID.3 gets a 20 mile top up. Not ideal but needs must.
Having driven home sedately, using the regenerative braking setting to recover miles and relying on the heated seat and steering wheel for warmth, the VW had 40 miles to spare so would have made it with the heating blasting away… or would it? It is not the sort of risk you want to take.
What did my wife make of it all? ‘The car is not the problem. The ID.3 is a comfortable, roomy little number, lovely to drive with bang up to date technology and a well thought out minimalist, futuristic dashboard.
‘But there will be times when journeys become stressful even when carefully planned. You should not have to worry about using the car’s heating but what we really need are easy charging facilities and time is running out’.
That was not a typical day for us and in the days that followed we enjoyed normal driving with the heating on! ID.3 is good to drive, gliding comfortably through twists and turns with its rear wheel drive set up and offering decent cabin space thanks to the longer wheelbase on the new platform for the electric range.
Not having to accommodate and engine and everything that goes with it frees up space in the cabin. And boot capacity is not compromised as the batteries are stowed under the back seat.
Performance is brisk and off the line ID.3 will stay with a Golf GTI while top speed is all but 30mph above our national speed limit, doubt that goes down well driving on the German autobahns.
VW reckon the car should achieve 4.2 miles per kilowatt although the best we managed was 3.5m/kw which is still pretty good.
Buyers will need the best part of 40 grand to get this level of ID.3 which sounds horrendous yet is par for the course. VW offers a budget model with a reduced driving range and lower specification for around £30,000 and even that price is daunting for this size of car.
There is nothing to dislike about this or any other electric car, in fact they will probably create slower drivers. The main stumbling block is the charging infrastructure, so many people, like my wife’s friend, cannot charge at their homes and then there is the even bigger problem of safely disposing the batteries.
People will fairly say the Government has put the cart before the horse and in this scenario the cart is already well ahead of the horse. The politicians have eight years to sort it out. Best of luck with that.
Next week: We try something a bit cheaper
ID.3 Max Pro
£39,500 (£43,185 tested)
Electric motor 200bhp
Battery output 58kWh
Range 258 miles
0-62mph 7.3secs; 99mph
100kW rapid charge 30mins to 180 miles
7.2 kW wall charger 9h 30m
Insurance group 30
Battery warranty 8 years