Electric is driving us into the future.
Talk to anyone about electric cars and sooner or later the two dreaded words, ‘range anxiety’ will undoubtedly crop up, writes Mark Brereton.
The Wissenschaftlerteam (German for scientists) at BMW have developed a new battery for the all-electric BMW i3 that has extended its original range of 70 miles to more than 125 miles on a single charge. That’s a whopping 78 per cent improvement on the original battery that has only been out for two years.
And this range can be increased to 205 miles if the range extender model is purchased, which is an improvement of 192 per cent - hugely impressive figures!
Please don’t be alarmed, or upset by the candid nature of the rest of this sentence, but my wife is just average. By this, I mean that like a lot of people, she works locally, looks after the house and our baby too, which means her mileage over the year I would suggest, is typically average. Last year she did a mixture of short, medium and longer range trips in her car, and only clocked up around 8,000 miles. This is 666 miles a month, and 153 miles a week.
We worked out that comes to about 15 trips a week with an average of 10.2 miles per trip. So for our family, there really is no need for any anxiety – not when it comes to electric cars anyway.
The word anxiety actually means a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome, but with a potential range of 205 miles, and most journeys in our household taking only 10 miles, there really isn’t a need to worry.
The BMW i3 specialist told me on the test drive that it is possible to do a quick 40 minute DC charge that will quickly increase the range by a further 60 miles.
I have to confess, I do consider myself a petrol head, and my holiday magazine of choice, up until recently, was not GQ, Top Gear, or Nuts, but was in fact the Autotrader (which disappointingly is no longer in print).
And after owning several cars since I started driving back in 1993, the only electric vehicle I had ever driven was a milk float for a part time job I had when I was a teen. I had never actually driven an electric car. I didn’t really know what to expect, none of my friends or family have ever owned one, but I was excited and went with an open mind.
I wasn’t disappointed. And there were several things that instantly shocked me about the i3. Firstly, the car has entry doors like on a Rolls Royce. This made getting in and out very easy indeed, and it made me think how easy it would have been if we had our child seat or grandparents with us, and, why more cars don’t have them?
Secondly once inside, I found the interior equally impressive. Its mixture of recycled products, slim line seats and carbon fibre panels made the cabin a very un-cluttered and ergonomically relaxing place to sit – great for the longer journey that the car is now capable of.
Thirdly, I noticed the silence. The absence of engine noise when I was told the car was ‘on’ and ready to go was strange to say the least. Also, in a time of all the technology we use, I enjoyed being told the car was ‘on’. It was a small thing, yet it was another reminder that the i3 was not like all other cars, that I was in fact in something different, and to me that made it feel futuristic and just that bit more special.
But by far the most impressive element of the i3 was without doubt the relentless acceleration that is available on tap for your right foot. The acceleration was fierce. At any time, the i3 makes available 170bhp which produces a 0-60mph time of 7.2 seconds.
Another fun fact means that from a standing start the i3 can beat any other BMW upto 30 mph – this includes the M5 and the M3. That’s right; the fastest car to 30mph that BMW produce is an electric, eco-friendly, government subsidised, sensibly priced vehicle that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Around town the i3 continued to impress. The car does have a brake pedal but I hardly needed to use it. The i3 has what’s called ‘regenerative breaking’ which means that when you release the acceleration pedal the car begins to stop itself. And whilst it does this it actually charges the battery. Not always having to break, the lack of engine noise, and the acceleration, all combined to make me a convert from petrol to electric in roughly 30 seconds.
I loved my afternoon in the i3, and during the test drive all I could think about was why don’t we have one already?
Credit: Live Magazines