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Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Benefits of City driving

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted about an adventure trying to drain the battery on my new electric car. This was my first experience with range anxiety. It was completely self-imposed and I have yet to experience it again. If you are interested, check out that post here. Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 explores the reason for the lack of range anxiety. It is largely due to the fact we have mostly been using the car for its intended purpose: everyday city driving. The average e-Golf range is rated at 201km. It is ideal for trips around town and great for short road trips. So far, driving an e-Golf has been anything other than boring.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 inside of e-golf

Below, I am going to discuss the wonders of using the e-Golf for the purpose it was designed. I don’t actually commute very far to work. It is about 15km each way. While driving solely around town over the last week, I fully enjoyed the benefits of owning an electric vehicle.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Regenerative Braking

Coasting effortlessly through stop and go traffic using only the acceleration pedal with the car in B mode was among my proudest moments this week. This mode brakes automatically when you take your foot off the acceleration pedal. It is easy to work with the car and mostly rely on the one pedal while driving.

Rather than the usual stop and go like everyone else was doing, the car happily coasted along. I tried to do this in the Jetta (my last car). The Jetta had a manual transmission. My knees got tired of working the pedals in heavy traffic. Triumphantly, it is much easier to actually accomplish in the e-Golf. I also have air conditioning again!  Of course, that is not an electric car benefit, but after four summers without AC in my auto, I had to mention it. The entire car-ride is no longer spent melting.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 inside of car

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Fueling up at home

An obvious benefit of the electric car is waking up daily knowing it is full of fuel. Fuelling up at the gas station before work won’t be necessary. Since I typically drive 30-40km each day, there is tons of range remaining when I return home. I often skip a couple of overnight charges at the 120-volt plug outside my house. During the week of city-only driving, there wasn’t any fear of running out of battery power. Charging outside my house at night was enough to keep the battery sufficiently full.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 checking remaining charging time at home

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Charging in the most Cost Effective way

The e-Golf allows you to set a time for it to charge. You can set it to use electricity only when electricity is at its least expensive. In Kitchener, that is in the evening, overnight and weekends. I  plug the car in when returning home for the day and set it to charge after electricity rates drop before heading inside. This setting is in the same menu as you set the next departure time on the digital screen inside the car. It ensures you charge at the most optimal time with the least amount of effort.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Setting Next Departure time

The next departure time is a great feature here in Canada. The car warms itself up in preparation for you to leave at the time you specify. While that on its own is nice, it also completes this task as it is plugged into the grid so you have the maximum range available to you when you leave. None of the energy in the battery goes towards warming up the car before you leave as long as it is plugged in.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 instrument cluster

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Economic Factors

From all the calculations I have read, it appears that an electric car costs about one third as much to operate as your standard gasoline vehicle. I did a calculation using our hydro bill and the e-Golf costs about $2.37 CAD for a full charge. A full charge produces an average of 201km of range. The cost will vary depending on the cost of electricity where you live. The same rings true for fluctuations in gasoline rates. Service on electric cars is less expensive. There is less maintenance to keep up with. Rather than needing an oil change every 8,000km, Volkswagen advised that driving the e-Golf through their free drive-through service check and fluid top-up once every 15,000km is sufficient maintenance.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 e-golf badge

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Overcoming Purchase Price

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome when it comes to owning an EV is the purchase price. Currently, EVs generally retail for more than their gasoline counterparts. The savings you see in operating and maintenance costs of an EV may fall short of the elevated price.  The extra cost is due largely to the cost of batteries, according to everything I have read. The environmental benefits of a zero-emissions vehicle are ideal, but the extra cost is not.

Depending on where you live, you could be eligible for an incentive to assist in making electric cars more affordable. These rebates exist because of an overall political push to reduce greenhouse gases. This should work towards maintaining quality air in big cities. In Canada, the provinces of BC and Quebec currently offer rebates for purchasing an electric vehicle. Recently, the new Premier of Ontario canceled the rebate that was available. Hopefully, sometime in the future, rebates will be more common or prices will drop. In the meantime, hopefully, people will continue to see the importance of the evolution of this technology in the focus of green living.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: front of e-golf parked by river

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Charging accessibility

Since we are talking about the political push for green tech, let’s discuss the program some Canadian cities have adopted to assist EV drivers with public charging. Select cities are deploying a network of curbside chargers capable of charging two cars at a time. This network of chargers, in addition to the number of chargers businesses are installing in parking lots, should benefit residents that live in high-rises without access to an outdoor outlet.

As cities grow, we see the number of high rise buildings increasing. The percentage of residents with the ability to charge at home will decrease. Many cities have realized they need to encourage green living. To do this, they need to offer reasonable alternatives to gasoline or diesel powered transportation. You can see examples in many cities in Ontario. There is a focus on dedicated cycling lanes and safety for cyclists, improvement to public transportation networks, and city-assisted charging networks. Like many other residents of the Waterloo Region, I am excited for the ION rail system that should be available to the public soon.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Finding Chargers

Public charging stations are all around many big Ontario cities, and they are only becoming more common. While out running errands, you can park in an EV spot to replenish your battery. Most public chargers I have used are free. You can also monitor your car’s charge progress using an app at many of the chargers. The apps we use most are Charge Point to monitor charging at stations and Plug Share to find charging stations

Over the past week driving around town, use of the public chargers was not required. Topping up the battery with the 120-volt outlet outside my house provides sufficient charge. Faster chargers are available to purchase for home use as well, but I doubt it is necessary for most people in the city.  When I make the trip to my family farm a couple of hours away, we will decide if it would be helpful to install a 240-volt charger there.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: what a charging station looks like

 

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Technology and the Environment

Of course, I am happy with the less expensive operating cost of the e-Golf. The more important consideration for the purchase was the environment. We have been trying to reduce our carbon footprint with everyday habits. While the car is good for the environment, I have not noticed any sacrifices driving it. The technology in the e-Golf seems futuristic, although it is possible I am stuck in the past.

Nearly every time I take the e-Golf somewhere, a new clever feature shows itself. The rear-view mirror automatically dims headlights from other autos while driving at night. It automatically adjusts its own high-beams for oncoming traffic. The e-Golf features lane-assist and parking assist. It has a rear-view camera tucked behind the shiny VW logo on the back. This keeps the camera clean from stray road-dirt.

The car cleverly beeps frantically (and excessively annoyingly) if you take your foot off the brake and open the driver’s side door when the ignition is on. This feature is important since it is very easy to forget if the car is on or off. The headlights illuminate the direction you are turning at night so you can actually see before turning that direction. This list barely scratches the surface of the intelligent features the car contains.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: The Drive

In terms of general driving, the e-Golf feels like a luxury car. Blue accent lights inside the door light up when the doors are open or the car is running at night. My version of the e-Golf has the leatherette package. I didn’t think cloth seats would hold up well transporting my dogs. This car is silent when it is running. As you drive you can only hear road noise from the tires and other traffic. It has been an extremely smooth ride as well. Even on roads that you can see should be bumpy, you do not really feel it while traveling.

Acceleration is quick in the e-Golf. It has AC for hot weather. For the cold in Canada, it has a heat pump. Heat pumps filter the heat the car produces to warm up passengers, reducing unnecessary strain on the range. The front windshield defrosts with heating elements in the same way the rear windshield does on most cars.

Driving an electric car and being conscious of consumption promotes a more relaxed drive. The car can drive very quickly, but the goal is no longer simply to get places. You instantly become more aware of the effect your driving habits have on energy consumption and range. It is interesting to explore what impact different routes have on your electricity usage. Resulting from that, you automatically want to learn everything about the most efficient ways to drive. The instrument cluster shows if you are charging the battery or using energy as you move along. Monitoring that status contributes to more control over the car’s efficiency.

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2 white e-golf parked by river

Electric Car Diaries Volume 2: Overall

The experience of driving an EV in the city is completely painless and absolutely ideal. It is the best place to enjoy the perks of driving an EV, but it is definitely not the only place. Are you considering a car with electric technology in your future? Are you concerned about needing to make a lifestyle change for it to work well for you? Is it the purchase cost, or maybe the wait time for delivery that holds you back?

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