This is a bit of a follow up to last week’s video on ‘the last petrol supercar’. That one focuses on the future of the internal combustion engine, but this video is all about EVs. Us petrol heads have been conditioned to fear electric cars and the ‘electrified future’, but in this video I want to lay out why, personally, I’m not afraid, and why I don’t think you should be either.
Let me start off by saying that I’m very much a petrol head. I own a 3L Supercharged V6 as my daily driver, I own a Suzuki SV650S motorbike, and I’m planning on buying an MX5 for a track car project that I will inevitably turbo charge. I’m not letting go of petrol vehicles any time soon. But, if the opportunity arises, I would happily drive an EV as my daily runabout keeping my S4 for longer journeys, road trips and track days – and there are a load of reasons why.
Let’s start with the obvious, it’s cheaper to run. While the upfront cost is still definitely higher than a petrol equivalent for a lot of models (although I’ll touch on that in a second), even charging at a public rapid charger, the sort of one you’d find at a motorway services, would only cost around £25 to fill a Tesla Model 3 standard from completely dead to full. If I wanted to fill my S4 from empty to full at a motorway services, I’d be out around £100. If you are able to charge at a Tesla Supercharger instead, they are even cheaper at £17 for a 100% charge, and if you can charge it at home it would only set you back around £9 if you are drawing from the grid, or literally nothing if you have solar.
You could make the argument that you have to charge an EV more regularly than you need to fill up a car – ie your £100 worth of fuel gets you further, and you are right. On a good day I can get around 400 miles of motorway driving with my S4, maybe a tad more, whereas a base model 3 will get more like 200-250. But that still works out at less than half the cost, and that’s only motorway driving. EVs are more efficient around town than they are on motorways whereas combustion cars are the opposite, so if you exclusively drive around town you are likely to get closer to the 278 mile claimed range from the model 3, whereas the S4 will get more like 300-350 miles from a tank.
On top of the fuel cost reduction, there are also next to no maintenance costs. No oil changes, spark plugs, timing chains, transmission flushes, or often even brake pads as thanks to regen braking most EV owners barely ever use the actual brakes in favour of letting it literally recharge the battery while slowing down. You can’t do that with an engine.
Then there is the practicality. Because the S4 has not only a dual exhaust, but a longitudinally mounted engine and gearbox, there is a massive transmission tunnel that eats floor space, especially in the back. In most EVs though, you get a flat floor. You also don’t need much space for the motor as it sits on the driven axle and isn’t all that much bigger than the sports differential you can get in this, so in Teslas and some other brands you get not only large rear boots, but front ones too which can be really useful for storing your charging cables and adapters.
Coming back to the note of price, since I’ve been talking so much about the model 3, I thought I’d look up the equivalent petrol counterpart, trying to match the power level specifically. From BMW the obvious comparison is the 3 series, of which the only model that gets close in power is the 330e, the plug in hybrid, that has 292hp total, 184 from the engine and 113 from the motor, and that with no options would set you back £40k. The Tesla? Also £40k. What about Audi? Well, again they don’t really keep up power wise, the best you can get is 265PS from a 2L TFSI with quattro, and that’s £42,000 before options – although you can option it up to over £50k with the vorsprung model. So in this mid range point, it’s actually pretty close.
Obviously if you want an A3 or 1 Series, there isn’t a great option for you yet, but they are coming. There are new models being released constantly from almost every manufacturer, so if you wait a few months there’s bound to be an option that suits you.
There are also other benefits of going electric, like if you can plug in at home you can use your car’s battery as a backup for your house, solar storage and even grid scale energy storage that they pay you to use. Then there are the software updates. Especially with Tesla, but more automakers are doing this too, updates can improve your car’s performance and range often for free. Tesla pushed an update last year that gave existing owners almost 10 miles more range for free. Can you imagine your current car downloading an update on its own, you come back and find your car is a bit faster or has better fuel economy? That’s amazing.
Often those sorts of performance updates are something you pay a bit extra for, but again I can’t go to Audi and pay them some money and they remap my car. I can take it to a third party shop to do it, but that’s very much ‘out of warranty’, whereas with Tesla it’s perfectly fine.
Especially for a city runabout or daily driver, EVs are incredibly fun to drive. The instant torque makes you the red light king, and blasting it out of junctions or roundabouts makes you smile no matter what. EVs are really fun to daily, and thanks to next to no moving parts, should be pretty reliable too.
Yes EVs are pretty expensive right now, and for someone like me who’s nowhere near interested in buying or leasing new cars, it’s going to be a while before an EV lands on my drive full time, but everything I’ve talked about, all the benefits, are only the ones available today. The next 5 to 10 years are going to be amazing, as we see every automaker launch new EVs with better range, faster charging and lower prices. The charging network will grow, and there will be plenty of amazing new features added too – of course more and more self driving options will come too.
Overall, I’m excited for EVs to become more mainstream and available. They won’t replace your weekend toy any time soon, but they will make your commute to work better.