The common man´s 100% Electric car experience – Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf

The common man´s 100% Electric car experience – Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf


Today we are testing the Renault Zoe It´s by far the city car of the test with a somewhat limited autonomy, about 140 km We are now charging the vehicle to check exactly the full charge range of the car It´s truly a modest car It has an interesting dashboard, with a nice climatization system It also has cruise speed regulation and a Eco mode which allows to save a lot of battery Whe now have a full charge I´m not sure why, but this car never shows a 100 per cent charge maybe we had to wait an extra hour for that remaining one percent We now have 99% battery, 140 km range Time to start rolling We first turn on the car with the “start/stop” button It´s a really nice car to drive It´s definitely a city car, but with a surprisingly sane driving for a car with not so high aspirations maybe because it has a low center of gravity with the weight evenly distributed along the chassis or maybe because it inherits the chassis and suspensions from his Renault combustion engine elder brothers bottom line is, it´s a fun car to drive, very agile and that´s the surprising thing about it one of the biggest limitations of this car is his range in fact, 140 km really limits your options on a country the size of Portugal To make the most common journeys in the country Like Lisbon-Oporto or Lisbon-Algarve you would need at least 200 km of true range, with a charging option in between and by true i mean that the shown range is just a theoretical one it doesn´t mean in real driving you will get the shown range. It will depend a lot on the way you drive with a sporty driving, your range will exhaust significantly faster if you drive smoothly, taking advantage of the car´s ability to charge the battery by braking or decelerating the efective range will greater than the shown range overal, this car with just 140 km range is a pure city car like a second car you can have or a car for somebody who doesn´t need to make long road trips Range is clearly an issue here The thing that truly impresses me in this car is it´s overall silence to the point that you ear all those tiny noises like the wheels rolling or the steering wheel are audible you can ear all those little noises, as they are not muffled as they would on a combusion engine another thing that stands out in this car is his smoothness not only because it features a automatic gear but also because the best way to drive this car efficiently the best way is to brake as little as you can so that you can regenerate some of the energy produced by the moving car the car has this abillity to give back to the battery some of that energy that otherwise would be wasted it can also be driven in Eco mode in traffic, as we are right now, it´s a very logical mode to drive in but if you need readilly available power in any speed it´s much better to drive in “normal” mode when on, the car delivers always a little traction so that when you release the brake the car immediatly starts moving which is a great feature when you´re in the middle of a traffic jam because you don´t even need to accelerate you just need to ease the foot on the brake and the car moves forward i´m now braking and, at the same time, generating energy to charge the battery i must have gave back two quilometers or so of range to the battery this is one of the most interesting features of the electric vehicles The car also has a external loudspeaker so that, when you start rolling, a noise similar to an engine can be heard from the outside which is barely audible so that people on the outside realize that a vehicle is nearby my experience, though, is that in practice this option is really not truly useful my experience it that the vehicle is so quiet that a lot of time people don´t sense the presence of the vehicle and this is a safety precaution the driver must always keep in mind, specialy in a urban environment normaly people relly on their hearing to sense incoming vehicles when, for instance, they´re crossing the street several times during this short test drive i had the experience of being like a meter away from somebody and the person would keep standing on the middle of the road, not even realizing the vehicle was there you really have to bear this safety concern in mind Day two of this test drive, now with the Volkswagen e-Golf on the second day my impressions on the car ar much more solid whe are now on a service station charging the vehicle, on a fast charger 15 or 20 minutes for a full charge in a minute we´ll be rolling and speaking a bit more on the car one thing i really enjoyed in the e-Golf compared, for instance, to the Nissan Leaf is the fact that it comes with three regeneration modes three intensitys rather of regen you can select this modes by pushing this lever to the left Whe are now in regen level 1 pushing the lever to the left activates level 2 and 3 on level 3 the car starts to regenerate if you lift the foot slightly from the accelerator which, combined with Eco or Eco+ driving modes, really boosts the regen ability of the car giving you a much better range than the one displayed In this case, the 196 km range we had when we left is now converted in a 208 km one which means we where able, even in a short drive, to extend our range Another thing is the engine, which is much more powerful than Nissan´s You can really feel an instant response from the engine Basicly i´m now making a quick demonstration on the charging process of an electric vehicle It´s 11 pm, i had a 60 per cent charge but, as i don´t have the ability to charge at home, i had to stop at this fast charging station on the highway which is truly amazing in half an hour you get 80 per cent charge as you can see i have this card on my hand it´s the card that identifies me in the system as the vehicle is alredy charging i´m skiping this part but i would now select the hose specific to my car in the case of the e-Golf this is the specific hose with a specific connection in the case of the Nissan Leaf, the hose would be this one instead wich is a bit bigger and has this trigger to lock it to the car In this screen we can see the battery charging status we now have 76 per cent charge in just 11 minutes basicly is an indication of the eletrical energy flowing from the charger to the vehicle everything very simple not as time consuming as most would antecipate and in a short while i´ll have a full charge

About the Author: Michael Flood

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