Future Cars: Why I went EV

It’s been a while since i did a tech post. And one that wasn’t even running tech. This is a post about why I went EV.

Background

For those who have followed my ramblings over the last 2 years at least, you’ll know I run a pet sitting business in my local area.

When I was doing all the planning, I had this lovely idea that I’d be able to  cycle between jobs and it would all be very environmentally good. On paper, working within a 5 mile radius, well it’s all local isn’t it? Isn’t it?

It turns out the reality isn’t quite that simple. Especially if you’ve got jobs at the peripheries; it’s not just a quick ride to the next job, with a 5 mile trip one way, then 7 in another direction etc. I’d certainly be fit. Or exhausted. And again, whilst that sounds perfect, it does mean that a lot of the day is spent traveling. Clients only want to pay you for the time you spend with their pets, not the overall experience!

Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Mostly automobiles

So the reality is, driving is unavoidable. In fact, my travel is without doubt, my biggest expense.

To put it in perspective, I’ve just come to the end of the first summer busy period – June. As the weather improves (elsewhere) and the schools have time off, families flock away. Despite reducing my coverage radius to 3 miles, I’ve been covering roughly 40-50 miles daily during June. Weekdays, Weekends, the lot. It’s a surprise really, especially as I’m rarely more than 5 miles from home. It’s a big mileage. Obviously through the quieter months it’s lower, but each time I renew my car insurance, I find myself having to increase the mileage allowance as the business has grown. But it only takes a couple of trips to the extreme of my radius (and beyond through some legacy jobs) and the miles rack up.

Now, my trusty old Ford Fiesta, on town miles at least, did about 300 miles per tank. That generally cost between £40-£50 to fill up, depending on the price on the day.

It doesn’t take much maths to see that in peak months I’m filling the tank every 10 or so days during peak season. So that’s a direct business cost of £120-£150 per month, ignoring wear & tear etc. And yet without leaving the borough boundaries!

The beginning of the end

My fiesta, whilst not elderly, was no spring chicken. And whilst with the appropriate servicing it would run and run, I was getting concerned that it may let me down. Sure any car can fail. Old cars wear out. And I can’t afford to be without transport, especially in peak season.

Things were further compounded. The local Ford dealership closed, and they wanted me to get serviced in Wilmslow. Which is neither on my route nor convenient. Aside from that, I was getting fed up with their overcharging for their services. A matter brought to a head when they wanted to charge me £12 for a bulb. FFS!

As much as I liked my car, it was hardly a love affair.

So whilst there were options around the status quo, I was leaning towards my next car. In fact I’d been putting money aside in preparation for that inevitability.

EV or ICE?

Over the past year I’d had a couple of conversations with friends and the suggestion of a pure electric vehicle (EV) had come up. Whilst I hadn’t dismissed it as an idea, it hadn’t really made it into any conscious decisions. New tech, low range of travel, it all seemed a bit inconvenient.

Yet now, whilst looking at my options, the EV approach was making more and more sense. I do, maybe 6-8 big journeys each year, although the really big ones are generally tackled by train. Yet with the rest of my miles being local, suddenly the fact I couldn’t drive 300 miles in one go seemed irrelevant. And then there was the cost reality. Sure, EVs are currently more expensive to purchase outright, however, looking around, using a PCP approach seems to be the modern approach. With that, the cost difference seems to drop away to an extent. The ‘fuel’ cost however, is significantly in the EV’s favour. Whislt newer ICEs (Internal Combustion Engines – petrol / diesel) are undoubtedly more efficient than a 2009 fiesta, the discrepancy between that and home charging  was enough to convince me that EVs were, at the very least, worth a look.

How not to sell a car

Having done a lot of reading around I decided to focus on three EVs:

  • Renault Zoe
  • Hyundai Ioniq
  • Nissan Leaf

The Leaf seems to be the car that’s been around the longest, with Nissan putting a lot of effort into EVs ahead of the European, and especially the US car manufacturers. In terms of brands, I’m completely ambivalent. I’ve had three cars thus far, all different makes and models. In many ways I was the perfect buyer, no preconceptions and a willingness to swallow whatever marketing spiel the dealerships could provide. An easy sell!

Oh boy, how wrong was I. It appears that there’s a knack to selling a car……!

Oh No Renault

My first visit was to Renault in Stockport. I explained I was interested in the Zoe but wanted to speak to someone to find out more. The dealership in the wisdom, gave me the one member of staff who openly admitted he didn’t know anything about the car as he’d not been trained. We went outside and I sat in a second hand Zoe, which was OK at a glance. But rather than suggest waiting for someone else who could help, we struggled on, with the salesman rushing back into the office after every question to get an answer! Oh dear!!

In the end I left with a brochure and an understanding that Renault would only lease the car batteries (rather than as a whole package, or to buy outright) and the cost, based on the numbers I was given, was more than my fiesta. Before I’d even tried to power it up with electrons!

Bye Bye Hyundai

My next stop was Hyundai, also in Stockport. To begin with, there was no sales people to hand, so I wandered around, looking for signs of anything Ioniq; I’d seen lots of advertising on their website. It was a big push, so surely they’d have one to look at…..

Eventually I found someone who didn’t seem particularly like they wanted to sell cars (he did work there!) who told me they wouldn’t have one until 2018! I was somewhat surprised having taken in all the marketing about this wonderfully available car. So I left with a brochure of a car I couldn’t even touch for another 6-9 months.

Relief with a Leaf

By the time I visited Nissan Stockport, I was wondering if I’d be told they didn’t even make cars or something equally bizarre. Thankfully, not only did they have someone who knew they sold cars, they could give me information about EVs. Not only that, I got to see a couple of different Leaf vehicles. Basically without any need for marketing effort whatsoever, Nissan were a country mile ahead of Renault and Hyundai!

I left with an appointment for a test drive the following week.

And that was enough. Following a test drive, I was happy to go ahead an purchase a Nissan Leaf!

Nissan Leaf

I’ve had the car about 3 weeks now. I’ll do a separate post about my initial learnings about life with an EV!

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