Things have advanced in a few months for EV shoppers. A future customer asked us for assistance finding 2 vehicles for personal/business use. One car should make a statement and the other to fit in. So we decided to publicly explore options that may face anyone January 2015 in the Antilles. The driving is short distances and under 70 kph (43 mph).
Our dilemma in selecting what to use on a small island with big city traffic is not going to be limited by distance or charge time. It will be size, utility and comfort features. With our client, visual appeal will also be a factor.
First we inspected the high end BMW i3 and middle upper level MB B Class electric. Second we judged the mid level VW eGolf and Kia Soul EV. Lastly, was Mitsubishi i-Miev and VW e-Up.
The 2014 BMW i3 ($41k) was designed to be a departure from the norm. Carbon fiber body panels resists all rust and denting more than metal. But damaging them enough to need replacement will need specialists the island doesn't have. The back seat in this luxury car is not luxury in size. Calling it a 4 seater is being generous. The dash is all digital plus a few buttons. USB plug is included. As we stated, this car is a standout from business as usual. Push button start and keyless entry is optional but a feature that we like so much in our Nissan Leaf in the US, that we cannot imagine any future car purchase without considering this feature.
The 2015 Benz B Class electric ($34k) is a 5 person full size vehicle that will appear from inside and out, to be a standard car from this German producer. Fewer screens and many more buttons than BMW, the B Class has the classic feel of its nicer predecessors. This car is an undercover EV using Tesla batteries. Leather and proximity radar that slows the vehicle is available but keyless entry, push button start and a USB plug is not. A high end car without modern conveniences is a contradiction.
The 2015 VW e-Golf ($33k) is another German, 5 person carrier with push button start, keyless entry and a subtle difference in appearance to gas version. Nothing futuristic here. Good engineering we assume because its German. But if history is a predictor of future performance, then we cannot know what to expect from any offerings here but Mitsubishi, which has been making their sole EV offering for 5 years. A professional reviewer online really disliked this VWs problematic, grainy touchscreen. It has no USB plug.
2015 Kia Soul EV ($26k) is going to visually fit in due to the popularity of Kia cars in the Caribbean. A full 5 seater with all the features of above plus more. The size and utility of it I believe will make it a predictable hit anywhere. The only possible fault it has along with all of the others (but the i-Miev) is the fact that it is new and untested.
2015 E-Up (£19.5k) is smaller, more modern, a bit more minimal than the e-Golf. It is the sole true competitor to the i-Miev, which has not changed in 5 years. This little car is only sold in the EU, and higher in price than i-Miev. Neither has push start, keyless entry or USB plug. It has an elegant design that is new. Its glass rear is similar to the BMW i3.
2014 Mitsubishi i-Miev / Peugot iOn / Citroen C-Zero ($22k/£25.5k) are the same car under different badges. It is the most basic of cars, but with a standout design that as we continue to drive it, constantly get questions & compliments. The Info/Entertainment includes USB, Bluetooth, DVD, SD player. Having the oldest design means also the shortest travel distance of 65 miles/100 km. Rear folding seats give great cargo space in this 4 door, 4 seater. Twisting roads at speed make the car lean a bit.
Mitsubishi has the only car without an app to monitor the vehicle's battery or activate the air conditioning in advance. However, this may not matter since it is uncertain if this communication based service will be offered in places where the car is not. The i-Miev does come with an actual remote which can operate the same functions up to 300 feet away.
ALL EVs HAVE:
- instant torque and are faster than gas cars from a stand still
- solid and stable grip of the road
- no wheel spin in slippery conditions and therefore perform similar to 4 wheel drive
- narrower tires for more fuel efficiency
- no spare tire
- a portable cable to charge from a standard outlet
- little to no maintenance except for tires, wipers or filters
- no effects on performance from extreme tropical weather
- warranties between 8 years & 100,000 miles
- greater efficiency in traffic versus high speed driving, the opposite of gas cars
- no pollution / emissions
- brake pads that last 3 to 5 times longer due to regenerative braking
- less electricity consumption than plugging in a refrigerator when charging
- batteries charged in less than 5 hours at 220v outlet