Electric cars have come a long way writes Geraldine Herbert
Electric cars account for a tiny proportion of overall sales in Ireland, despite them costing a fraction to run when compared to petrol or diesel cars. Why is it such a struggle to get people behind the wheel of an electric vehicle? According to a survey this week by the AA lack of charging facilities and doubts over effective mileage range are the main concerns among those unlikely to switch to an electric vehicle when next buying a car.
But rapidly-improving technology and the increasingly urgent need to tackle the country’s air pollution coupled with price reductions in the cost of buying an EV make electric cars a very viable option for many. Below is a guide to all battery EVs currently on sale in Ireland ranked in order of range when fully charged. All prices quoted are after the grant and VRT rebate has been applied.
Renault Twizy – NEDC range: 100 Kms
On sale in Europe since 2012 Renault’s quadricycle is aimed squarely at urban dwellers. While not technically a car in the conventional sense, this tiny two-seater can be charged using a standard powerpoint in your home or office, or at any roadside 3 pin charging point. A full charge takes three and a half hours and provides a range of 100km but in normal use owners can expect a range of around 80km depending on factors like driving style and outside temperature. More akin to a scooter with a roof this quirky looking vehicle has an overall length of 2.34m and width of 1.23m so it’s perfectly proportioned for parking and nipping around urban environments and could be the solution to our crowded city centres for many people. The Twizy is green, affordable and fun to drive and prices start at €9,995.
Nissan Leaf 30kWh – NEDC range: 250 Kms
The Nissan Leaf accounts for the bulk of electric car sales in Ireland and it’s easy to see why. Fun and funky, it promises to cost virtually nothing to run, plus the Leaf is a proper car with room for the kids in the back and shopping in the generously sized boot.
From the outside the once striking design is now looking a little drab but still very distinctive. The Leaf’s theoretical range can be up to 250 kms but you’ll do that only if you drive it as if you’re balancing a bowl of water on the dashboard. Gently and smoothly, 120 kms is probably more realistic. On the dashboard how economical you drive is displayed as tree-shaped icons so the more trees you have the more economically you are driving and they become an integral part of your journey. Spend some time with the Leaf and you’ll be an EV convert. Prices start from €24,490 (the Leaf 24Kwh is available from €21,490 but the range is limited to 199kms).
Hyundai Ioniq Electric – NEDC range: 280 Kms
Introduced at the end of last year Hyundai’s all electric Ioniq is proving a worth rival to the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf. It’s also the only electric car to come in three versions: electric, petrol-electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid. Like all electric cars on the road it is quick off the line and dashes effortlessly and silently around town. It is not the most engaging car to drive with quite a bit of bodyroll through corners but it is comfortable, refined and adds that instant torque of an electric vehicle. As with all evs drive it too enthusiastically and range will deplete at a startling rate. Charging the Ioniq takes about 12 hours on a regular domestic socket but if you have an AC fast charging unit it can be charged in less than four. Inside it is a spacious hatchback with plenty of room for 5. It’s also practical with 455 litres of luggage space and 1,410 litres if you fold down the rear seats. Prices start from €28,495
Volkswagen e-Golf – NEDC range: 300 Kms
The zero emissions e-Golf has all the looks, size and practicality of the original Golf, but it’s powered purely by electricity. For 2017 VW have improved the range from 190kms to 300kms. The e-Golf is powered by an electric motor that produces 136hp and 290Nm of torque. What this means in the real world is that the e-Golf can achieve a top speed of 150km/h and accelerate from 0-100km/h in 9.6 seconds. Like many other electric cars, the motor regenerates lost energy from braking and recycles it back into the battery for later, whilst the handy Powermeter guides you through the energy performance and acceleration. The e-Golf has a rapid acceleration that will take you by surprise. It is seriously quick and much faster than the official figures suggest. With no lag or sound from the engine it takes some getting used to. Charging is very easy – simply plug the connected charger into the socket where the petrol flap is and you’re good to go! Prices start from €34,890
BMW i3 94Ah – NEDC range: 300 Kms
With BMW engineering, urban friendly dimensions and zero emissions the i3 was BMW’s first electric car. It is offered as an electric only version or with a supplementary petrol engine that extends the range. When it launched one of the biggest criticisms was its limited range but this has now been addressed by a mid-life upgrade that increases battery capacity by 50%.
Outside it’s funky but inside it’s futuristic and free from many of the design constraints of more conventional cars. It is also minimalist with Teutonic attention to detail. The electric motor, developed and produced specially for use in the BMW i3, generates an output of 170bhp and provides maximum torque or sheer pulling power of 250Nm from the moment the car pulls away. On the road, the i3 goes from 0 to 100 in 7.3 seconds with 170 bhp and 250 Nms of torque but it feels much faster as it is light and aerodynamic, thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre. The steering is well-weighted but the ride is firm and some may describe it as harsh. The new battery in the i3 means it is now much more flexible to use and is an incredibly clever and modern car that allows you to bask in green virtue as you get from A to B. Prices start from €36,300
Renault Zoe ZE 40 – NEDC Range 400 Kms
The latest version of the Renault ZOE electric supermini promises to shake up the small-electric-car market with its keen pricing and very usable battery range.
For 2017 Renault has facelifted the ZOE and it now sports new two-tone 16-inch wheels on the outside and a much improved cabin. When the Zoe first launched you had to lease the battery now the new version is offered as an all in one deal, you buy the entire car battery and all. On the road it feels very much like the latest generation Clio and with no conventional engine there’s much less noise to distract you from thinking just how green you’ve become. Like all EV’s, full power and torque is available instantly, so as you hit the pedal and it whisks you seamlessly from 0-100km in a leisurely 13.2 seconds it feels so much faster. We were huge fans of the original Zoe, launched in 2010. However, the first incarnation could only manage around 160 kms on a single charge. This has now been addressed with a new 41kWh battery. This is almost double the capacity of the original 22kWh battery and pushes the ZOE’s range to a real world 300kms. This latest model will be sold with a choice of both batteries; the older 22 kWh battery-powered is now the entry-level car so prices start from €23,490. The Dynamique Nav trim with the new battery is priced from €27,480. The Signature Nav version comes in at €28,980.
Prices start from €27,480 (the Zoe 22Kwh is available from €23,490 but the range is limited to 240kms).
Tesla Model X P100D – NEDC range: 542 Kms
The Model X from Tesla is an all-wheel drive, all-electric SUV with seating for up to 7 that will just about keep pace with a Ferrari. With “falcon-wing” doors that open upwards and a windshield that sweeps from the front over the driver’s head and down to the rear this is about as futuristic as family motoring gets. Inside the clean lines and over all simplicity enhance that almost space age quality of the Model X but look a little closer and the fittings don’t quite reflect the high price tag. The hand-crafted and exquisitely tailored interior expected of a car with a price tag more than 100k is starkly absent. It can be ordered in five, six and seven-seat configuration. The high seating position allows for great all round visibility but rear visibility is not a selling point; thankfully the rear view camera more than compensates.
On the road the Model X feels more like a very fast MPV than a sporty SUV. The ride is harsh and there is quite a bit of road noise. The steering is numb but accurate and it’s not a car you will yearn to take on a back road. But the intoxicating acceleration and sophisticated technology means these gripes will be quickly overlooked. Such performance and sophistication doesn’t come cheap so you’ll need upwards of €110k to get your hands on a Tesla Model X. plus Tesla reckon it will cost about €5-€7 on night-time electricity for a full charge. Prices start from €103,150 for the 75kW battery with a range of 417KMs
Tesla Model S P100 D NEDC range: 613 Km
The Model S is Tesla’s first flagship product. In terms of size it is bigger than a five series BMW but smaller than a seven. It’s also got the option of seven seats, as there are two extra in the back, so it is unlike anything else in this market. Stylish and uncluttered a large touch screen in the centre console allows you to control virtually everything from the satnav to the steering feel and suspension. There is plenty of space for luggage also as you get two boots – one in the front plus the main one at the back. The lack of storage and cubby holes inside the cabin is a little disappointing though and you will be scrambling to find places for keys, water etc. Despite a hefty weight, the road handling is impressive and it is comfortable and refined. It feels very “normal” so its easy to forget about that intoxicating power that can be unleashed at any time. The top of the range P100D, in “ludicrous mode” will zip from zero to 100km/h in 2.8 seconds, so it will keep up with a Lamborghini Huracan and a McLaren 650S and only the Koenigsegg One and the Bugatti Veyron are faster. Behind the wheel it feels even quicker than the figures suggest as it is pure straight line acceleration. The only disappointing aspect about the drive is the steering could be a little more involving. Prices start from €84,300 for the 74kW battery with a range of 490KMs
22nd June, 2017