No, not for myself (I’m happy with my recent EV purchase), but for somebody else. We went out to look at three specific models, and to ask about some upcoming ones. We ended up adding one more to the list while we were out.
The original plan was to check out the VW dealer in Oakland, then the Kia dealer nearby, and finally drive to one of the few Hyundai dealers (we ended up picking the Hilltop one). The cars we were interested in seeing and driving were the ID.4, the Kona EV, eNiro and to find out more about the Hyundai Ioniq 5 / Kia EV6.
One of the included services the Taycan comes with is unlimited, free 30 minute sessions on Electrify America, the charging network that Volkswagen are building as part of their retribution for dieselgate. As early Tesla Model S and X owners will attest to, free rapid charging makes road trips even better. Half an hour on a 150kW charger should be enough to get the car back up to 80% in most cases. On a 350kW charger, if you can find one, it will be more than you need.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Finally, a network to rival Tesla’s awesome super=charger network, backed by vehicle manufacturers so the experience with their cars will be as seamless as Tesla owners are used to: pull up, plug in and charge. And, yes, that really is how simple it is. We’ve rented a Tesla Model X twice now, once in the UK and once here in California. In both countries the experience was that simple. The navigation took us to the charger location, we plugged in (after a short wait on a couple of occasions) and that was it. No cards, no apps. Just plug in & charge.
One of the electric cars that I was eagerly awaiting was Jaguar’s I-Pace. I visited a local dealer one weekend when they had one on loan to show off; I went for a test drive in it at the San Francisco car show last year. And it was great. In fact, of the three cars I had been watching from the day their concepts were announced, the Jaguar was the only one that stayed true to the concept car in my mind.
Reviewers around the world also love it, and while its lower than expected range was a disappointment, it is still over 200 miles between charges, and it is capable of 100kW charging (if you can find a charger capable of delivering that).
Yet sales, even from the start, seem to be slow. When I first asked the dealer, they didn’t expect to have any available until early 2019 for those that had not pre-ordered. Just a few weeks after launch, they called to say they did have some in stock for immediate purchase, and that has been true every time I’ve checked their website. In fact, all the dealers here have them in stock. So what is wrong?
Unlike Audi and Jaguar, Mercedes already has a full electric vehicle on the road (albeit one they discontinued last year). We happen to own one of those EVs, a 2014 model year B Class Electric Drive. From the very beginning, it has been somewhat eye opening as to how Mercedes dealers here feel about EVs.
One of the things about driving an EV that I noticed very quickly is that the ideal locations for “refueling” infrastructure are totally different to ICE cars. Gas stations are just not the best places for charging stations, and even with the very high speed chargers that some car manufacturers are talking about, I don’t think they ever will be. Instead, the best places are the places (apart from at home), seem to be public parking lots. These are places where EVs spend enough time to pick up meaningful charge, while their drivers are doing something else.
As the owner of a relatively short range EV, being able to plug in and get a charge from public chargers can either be handy, or in some cases essential. There are places we go where taking the EV would be risky unless we could get a charge while we’re there (and some where we wouldn’t get home without a charge). At least here in the SF Bay Area, EVs and plug in hybrids are now common enough that finding a public charging space empty is rare. When a large shopping mall has only 2-4 EV spaces, the chances of finding one empty when you arrive is essentially nil.
For a number of years now, we have visited the annual San Francisco car show to check out the latest in car tech. It’s not a big show on the circuit, and we’re certainly not expecting any big reveals, but it has been a fun day out for us and the kids (especially the kids, who love climbing into all the cars).
This year I’m sad to say I was a little disappointed. Not with the show’s organizers (although two of the Moscone “security” staff were rude to us before we had even entered the show floor). It was the car companies themselves that disappointed me.
Since all the electric car options I am considering are at least 18 months out, but my lease was up at the end of August, I needed to pick a replacement car that made sense, but also that didn’t commit me to another 3 year lease. As luck would have it, an off lease 2014 electric Mercedes B Class that was in great shape was listed on my dealer’s website. So, that’s what we did; swapping my fun roadster for an electric 5 seat family car. This is my initial reaction to both the B Class and owning an electric car.
While in Hawaii, we rented a Jeep Compass from Hertz. Partly because when traveling with a three year old there are lots of extra things to lug around, and partly because it was priced so competitively. Sadly, the week we had with it only served to convince me I would never buy a Jeep Compass.
It has been a little while now, but I still feel that the new pre-inspection process that Mercedes Benz Financial Services have imposed at the end of their leases is a huge mis-step. Perhaps other people have had different experiences with lease returns, but mine have always been very smooth & trouble free. This new process changes that, and not positively.