We recently bought an electric car. For the environment and for fun. It turns out they are almost like a tech gadget. No analog meters, just digital screens, and displays, there are companion apps for your phone, and they have advanced automation and security features.
The automation feature I like most, probably is the adaptive cruise control or traffic congestion assistant.
Adaptive cruise control keeps the car at a set speed, but it also adapts to the traffic rhythm by keeping a safe distance to cars ahead. All you have to do is steer and keep an eye out for things the system might miss. It's very convenient, and I use it whenever possible. It makes the drive much calmer, especially for passengers: no heavy braking, no gear shifting, no unnecessarily quick accelerations.
The traffic congestion assistant can only be activated on motorways at speeds below 60 km/h. What it does, is adjust the speed to the surrounding traffic and keep the car in the lane. Braking, stopping, accelerating, steering. All the driver does is keep hands on the wheel (or the assistant deactivates). Driving in motorway traffic connections can be a challenge. This assistant takes most of the heavy work out of that.
Parking assistant works well, but if you are a decent driver you do it faster. When you use the parking assistant, it finds a long enough free parking space and parks the car perfectly in it.
The apps we use, are one for monitoring and controlling the car and another for monitoring and controlling the electric charger. With the car control app, you can start or schedule climatization. We have set it to have the car warm and cozy every weekday morning at 7.30 when my wife takes it to work. This is more convenient than parking it in the garage or getting out to start a ”wet fuel car” 15 minutes before time during winter, and the climate feels more comfortable. If you can't plan ahead, you can start climatization at any time in the app. A few minutes usually is enough to make it warm in winter. The app also shows battery levels, the status of door locks and alarm, and you can lock and unlock it.
The electric charger app lets you see the activity of the charger, including charging history, and you can also lock and unlock the charging cable so no one can steal it.
Another likeness to gadgets, is that the electric car is more fun and easier to drive than most conventional vehicles. Despite looking small and chubby, the car's electric engine has 170 horsepower. That makes it very responsive if you need it.
As with everything else, there are downsides with electric cars. For most, the main one likely is the cost of purchase. Electric vehicles have a much higher initial cost than comparable gas and diesel engine cars. According to research, an average electric car is cheaper in the long run. The cost of driving, in terms of ”fuel,” is about 1/7 for an electric vehicle. Maintenance also is considerably lower with so many fewer moving parts.
The range on one charge may be, but often isn't a problem. For us, one charge lasts longer than we drive 49 days out of 50. That 50th day we pause at one of the many charging stations and top it up.
So far, we only have positive experiences of trading our previous diesel BMW for an electric one.
(Photo by Vlad Tchompalov at Unsplash)