I know nothing about cars but having to commute from Watlington to Oxford every working day means I spend a lot of time in one. Once lockdown started in March 2020 and I was one a few people on the road getting to work and back it was startling how much my fuel consumption went down as my journey time dropped from 45-60 minutes to just 30 minutes each way. I had been considering switching to an EV for some time but after seeing how much fuel was consumed just sitting or idling in traffic I was set on making the change! The £3000 government grant for an EV coupled with the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) grant of up to £350 for purchasing and installing a home charging unit also helped. The expanding UK network of over 26,000 public charging stations (some for free) was also reassuring.
I needed a car that was similar to my current Toyota Yaris but a bit roomier so it could
accommodate 2 children in the back with all their gear.
The search commenced in earnest over the summer of 2020. I started reading Auto Express, Autocar and even watching Top Gear videos on YouTube. Now that will surprise anyone who knows me or my car history – my mum’s mini metro hand me down, a second-hand VW polo, upgraded to a Nissan Micra which was traded in for my current Toyota Yaris in 2009 when Gordon Brown was trying to kick start the car industry by offering £2000 for his new car scrappage scheme.
I also wanted a car with a reasonable range that I could charge from home overnight but
could also rapid charge if I was doing a longer journey than my regular commute.
Top EVs for 2020 in Auto Express and Autocar (small EV) included:
Tesla Model 3 / S Peugeot e-208
Porsche Taycan Renault Zoe
Renault Zoe VW e-up
Kia e-Niro BMW i3
Kia Soul Mini electric
VW ID-3 Mazda MX30
Polestar 2 Honda - e
Peugeot e-208 Vauxhall e-Corsa
Jaguar i-pace DS 3 Crossback e-tense
Others I considered included: Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Kona-electric. Then followed a process of elimination:
Too small: Renault Zoe (3 doors), Mini electric, Honda-e, Renault Twizzy (way too small!)
Too flashy (bear in mind my car history): Tesla, Porshe Taycan, Polestar, Jaguar I arranged a few test drives. The first thing I noticed with all EVs was that the full torque from the electric motor is instantly available from a standing start and keeps coming without delay making driving really fun (can’t believe I am saying that!)
(1) Kia e-Niro had excellent write-ups so that was the first but was too big for my liking.
It is classed as a small SUV as is the Hyundai Kona. I viewed the Kia Soul in the
dealership and the aesthetic didn’t appeal so that was also out of the running.
(2) Peugeot e-208: really wanted to like this one as the price and size of the car was perfect. On the Road, the price was £17,345 – £33,920 depending on spec. Range 190 miles. But the poor visibility and low-set driver’s seat felt claustrophobic after being used to the glass bowl all-around visibility of the Nissan Micra and Toyota Yaris for the last 20 or so years. Didn’t bother with test driving the Corsa as thought that would be similar
to the Peugeot and had less favorable write-ups.
(3) VW ID-3: great visibility in the driver’s seat, Golf-like family-sized car, really
comfortable and fun to drive.
(4) BMWi3: great visibility in the driver’s seat, small and compact but surprisingly roomy
inside. The excellent infotainment system and fun to drive.
Of all the cars in the running, it was a close contest between the VW iD3 and BMWi3.
BMW i3 Has been around for years and has a good track record. Range 180-190 miles on one charge. Sustainable engineering: recycled plastic, petroleum-based plastics are replaced by natural materials, the car plant runs exclusively on wind power. On the Road, price £39,690 Second-hand cars available but do not depreciate much ie over £30,000. Have a friend with one and the door opening is an issue if you are parked next to another car with limited space and a kid in the back in a car seat. Also, the lightweight carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic structure means that it feels unstable when driving in high winds on the M40.
(5) VW ID-3 New concept car for VW built as the first model in their EV range. This made it more attractive than an e-Golf. Range 210-220 miles on one charge. Overnight slow charging and 30-minute rapid charging options. First VW produced and delivered with a net carbon-neutral balance. The spacious family car looks like a Golf but inside feels like a Passat for the passengers. The battery is integrated into the vehicle floor making the car feel roomy and also means boot size is reasonable (an issue for other EVs such as the Kia e-Niro) and reduces the center of gravity making weight distribution more even for a smooth and comfortable ride. On the Road price £29,990 - £39,990 depending on the model and trim (7 versions available).
The only downside was the infotainment system and software glitches with the First Edition model which was not as good as the BMWi3. The ID-3 won mainly due to it being an ideal family-sized car, good visibility, carbon-neutral production and delivery, great fun to drive, and cheaper when you select the Model and Trim to suit. All I have to do now is wait for it to be made and delivered….post-Brexit!