ELECTRIC cars are becoming increasing popular as pressure mounts to become more environmentally friendly. But are they really worth the hype?
Here, SunMotors writer Rob Lewis and former SunMotors editor Ken Gibson debate whether it is time for us all to ditch our petrol/diesel motors and make the switch to electric.
says Rob Lewis, SunMotors writer
I like electric cars – particularly this cute little Frenchie.
But it seems others such as Ken, need convincing. So let’s tackle the issues head-on.
First up, “range anxiety”. Not in my world. This second-gen Renault Zoe can drive up to 245 miles on a single charge, the equivalent of a five-hour schlep from London to Newcastle.
Anyone seriously planning a longer trip in a car this size, regardless of fuel source, isn’t thinking straight for starters.
The impressive 32 per cent improvement is down to a new motor and upgraded 50kW battery.
This puts it ahead of not only its current rivals but some of the next-wave small EVs, too.
Now for cost and charging.
There are two ways to buy Zoe: outright, including the battery from £25,670, or you can buy it without the battery (saving £7,000) and lease it on a monthly plan.
Plans start from £60 a month, capped at 4,500 miles a year, to £110 per month for unlimited miles.
Leasing — while largely proving the more economic option if you don’t intend to keep it forever — also brings the benefit of having it replaced for free should battery health drop below 75 per cent.
Whichever option you choose, you’ll get a free 7kW wall charger installed at your home, which will juice Zoe right back up overnight for around the price of two frothy coffees.
On a fast charge, 30 minutes will give you 90 miles back.
Finally, looks and fun. Zoe is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Great around town — agile, light, easy — and, thanks to increased sound insulation, she’s much better on motorways, too.
Then there’s the trendy, recycled interior. The dashboard, seats, door trim and central console sides are clad in a tactile textile made out of old plastic bottles and seatbelts.
They look and feel vastly better than that actually sounds.
A large iPad-style infotainment screen dominates the fresh-faced fascia, while its portrait orientation is ideally suited for ease of sat nav use.
KEY FACTS: RENAULT ZOE
Price: From £21,620
Top speed: 87mph
Range: 245 miles
But, perhaps most crucially of all, this entry-level EV has become one step closer to being less of a radical decision for early electric car adopters.
Zoe never really had any rivals growing up, but she does now — and Renault has reacted in an intelligent way to broaden her appeal as well as keep prices affordable.
Go take Zoe out for a date. You won’t be disappointed.
says Ken Gibson, former SunMotors editor
Electric cars may well be the future – but they’re not for me in 2019. I couldn’t wait to get back into my petrol car.
The reality is that living with an all-electric car can be a pain especially if, like me, you live in a rural county, where there’s a serious lack of charging points.
Which, of course, magnifies the other major failing of electric cars — lack of range.
The Hyundai Ioniq I tested has a 194-mile range which means you have to plan any longish journey — over 150 miles — like a military operation.
It’s not just finding the charging points en route, but whether the electric power provider is the one you have an account with.
If not, you have to go through the pain of opening another account via a phone app before you can charge.
You also need to find out if the site has a fast 50kW charger, which will still take 57 minutes in the case of the Hyundai, to charge it back to an 80 per cent capacity.
But as I found out, it can be much longer if someone is already using the charger or the chargers are out of order.
Did I mention that most of the charging sites don’t have a canopy? So you risk getting soaked just plugging in the heavy cables and lugging them in and out of the boot.
And I wouldn’t even consider an electric car if you haven’t got a 7kW wall box at home, which will cost you £300 to get fitted, and it still takes more than six hours to fully charge your car.
On the plus side, it only costs about £4.50 to fill up.
So what about the actual driving? I liked the relaxing silence of the electric motor, except that it accentuates other sounds, such as tyre noise.
It drives OK, though, and it is rapid enough, especially around town. Plus, it has all the practicality of a hatchback and a useful boot.
But my point is, electric car ownership is not as simple as you might think. And it doesn’t work if you do long journeys regularly and if you don’t have a garage or wall box.
And then there is the price. The very well-equipped Ioniq electric I drove cost a hefty £32,015, and that’s with a £3,500 grant from the Government.
So you need to think hard about joining the electric revolution.
KEY FACTS: HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC
0-62mph: 10.2 secs
Top speed: 103mph
Range: 194 miles
If you do lots of miles, I’d recommend you check out the Ioniq hybrid instead.
It is basically the same car except the petrol/electric powertrain delivers an excellent 70mpg and costs £26,995. It’s a far more realistic proposition.