One of our customers and member of Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon shared his experience of driving an Electric Vehicle with us and we thought you might like to read it.
Things have moved on greatly since this blog started posting about EVs, not least Ecotricity’s national network of Electricity ‘Pumps’ – the Electric Highway – it’s great to read some real-world experiences of production cars.
Anyway, over to Adrian…
On Sunday I was listening to the relaxing hum of electricity filling my electric vehicle (EV) while thinking how much my motoring life had changed in the last 12 months. This time last year, I was standing at a petrol station in Canada filling my V8 Mustang with 60 litres of dirty fossil fuel. Now I am “filling” my car with green electricity at an Ecotricity fast charger.
So how did this change come about? Well for many years I have been adjusting my life to be more sustainable and encouraging my family to do the same. This journey has involved obsessive recycling & re-using of things, walking locally, learning from my wife about the pleasures of shopping for second hand items and most recently, becoming a vegetarian. As someone obsessed by cars, having owned over 20 internal combustion machines, the time had come when I had to put my money where my wheels were. Jump ahead 3 months and on September 24th I picked up a new BMWi3. I called him “Marty”. From that date my motoring life changed forever.
Driving away from the dealership in silence and not having to pay the London congestion charge was a great introduction to EV life. The next hour was spent crawling through the Kensington traffic on battery power with many city folk turning their heads as Marty drove silently past them. Wow, I had a big smile on my face but I also had a 109-mile journey home ahead of me with just 83 miles electric range… gulp. For that reason I had cheated a little on my transition to EV life and selected the option of the 650cc two cylinder “Range Extender” engine that is able to charge the batteries while driving if your electric range gets low.
I have now owned Marty for 120 days so here are the top 5 things I have learned about driving an electric car:
1) EV’s are fantastic fun and seem to perform de-stressing functions
As someone who adores all aspects of the driving experience, I was worried that my EV would be boring after a few months. I needn’t have worried. That immediate torque and that 15mph -> 40 mph “whoosh” in your back makes me smile every time. In addition, I seem to get out of the car feeling more relaxed than when I got in so with everyone’s busy lives today, this just has to be a huge bonus.
2) Regenerative braking (using the electric motor to slow you down) is addictive
Before driving an EV I never really thought about the energy wasted in braking a car. It all just disappears as heat through the brakes. This is why regenerative braking is so cool since the electric motor has the ability to slow the car and put this energy back into the batteries. I never tire of using the regenerative braking while approaching corners or junction’s and trying not to use the real brakes. I know its sad but I never thought calculating “braking” distances could be such fun…
3) Without the range extender I would worry about distance to destination
In the last 120 days Marty has covered 3757 miles, 74% of this on battery. Since I am based at home during the working day, all this mileage is local or weekend family trips. With my electric range averaging around 75-80 miles, the range extender means that we can use Marty for all our trips and look for fast chargers on the motorways. If we cannot top up the charge we can fall back to the range extender to get us to our destination or next charge point. We can also charge overnight at our destination using the standard household socket.
4) You don’t need a charging point at your house to own an EV
Without doubt, it’s easier if you can charge your car at home but it should not rule out EV ownership. For example, I am unable to park at my house so I use local chargers, the closest being just 5 minutes walk away. I have a simple routine where I drop Marty to the charger before our evening meal. Three hours later (level 2 charger) I head out with the dogs for a walk and pick him up on the way back. This is actually a double win as I get the car charged and also get out for an evening walk before bed to clear my brain.
5) Most people are still amazed by EV’s
I have lost count at how many people have stopped me to talk about the i3. I know it’s a car that can be a little “marmite” but I find it stylish and Marty has an amazing interior. The i3’s eco credentials make it something people really are intrigued by. This is great since the car triggers social interaction that also allows me to talk to people about EV ownership.
So what will the next 120 days hold for me? Well, I am currently planning to drive Marty to Italy in the summer. Yes, it’s taking some investigation but the motorways in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Switzerland are very well set up for EV fast charging. I can always fall back on to my range extender if I’m lost in France. My next article will update you on how the journey went…
By the way, my car is called Marty because I took an 82 year old friend for a drive and he stated the car was “like something from Back to the Future”…
Original posted here