Last fall I bought a car that runs on the thunderbolts of Zeus. The fiery plasma at the core of a star is (roughly) the same thing that gets me to Starbucks and lets me stream Pandora while I wait for the mo-ron in front of me to notice that the light went green. Imma talkin’ bout electricty, the promise of the future that was supposed to be powering everything by now, from our hoverjets to food rehydrators. So…we’re not quite there yet but, by God, this is an amazing car.
2016 E-Golf. The ‘E’ stands for electricity, the ‘Golf’ stands for something the Germans thought would make a great car name a few decades ago. Just like ‘Rabbit’ and ‘Paseo’. But they did also use ‘Scirocco’, which is a desert wind and one of the coolest car names ever so…props.
How has it been to drive? Charge? Own? Answers: easy and fast, easy and fast (with a 220v charger) and easy. This car has a range of about 90 miles, which is plenty for all the driving I do. Our second car is a traditional gasoline burner, which in fifty years will sound like someone from the early 20th century saying, “We have a horse and carriage AND a velocipede that runs on ambergris.” In other words, pretty soon nobody will ever remember why gas-burning cars were so good, other than the great noise of a turbo-charged engine spooling up.
So, four months on, here’s what I’ve learned.
- If you upgrade to a better charger you can fully charge in a few hours. With the standard 110v charger it’ll go all night and still might not be done. My new charger is a JuiceBox Classic 30 amp and was just under $500. Now they’ve upgraded the model to this one. I installed it myself and, so far, haven’t shocked myself.
- Charging is laughably inexpensive. If I park at a charging station for a few hours, I might spend about $3 for electricity. Charging at home is even cheaper, thanks to a special lower TOU contract (time of use) with my local power company. Basically I agree to charge my car during the night and we pay less for our electricity. To fully charge my car is about $4. Yes, about 1/10th the cost of gasoline.
- With all the instant low-end torque you will find yourself driving like a drag racer. You can spin the wheels on this car at any speed up to 30 mph just by being a little too liberal with the pedal. Some of that may be the low-rolling-resistance tires but honestly this car has GOBS of torque. Don’t know what I’m talking about? No matter. You’ll understand once your passengers clutch at the oh-sh*t handle and inhale sharply every time you leap away from a stoplight.
- Heat is available instantly. With no engine to get hot, my car has a heat pump which can send warm toasty air into the cabin as soon as you start up. Until you experience instant gratification you don’t know what a pain it is not to have it.
- This car is chock-a-block with features. It’s the nicest car I’ve ridden in and doesn’t sacrifice anything by being electric.
- You can use the HOV lane all the time. Yep. I got the little stickers so it’s like I’m a VIP. At least once I day I catch myself muttering, “So long, SUCKAS!”
- When you get really low on charge the car will go into limp mode, maxing out at 50 mph and cutting off the climate control and radio. It’s like being a kid and having your TV privileges taken away by a parent. “See? This is what happens when you don’t listen when I tell you there’s only FIVE MILES OF RANGE LEFT.”
- Regenerative braking will make you into a hypermiler. Here’s how it works: lift off the accelerator pedal and the car slows down. There’s a gauge on the dash that shows power usage vs. power generation. When you’re coasting down, the needle is in the green zone, MAKING POWER. So if you live on a mountain and go downhill to work, you could arrive with more charge than you left with. Unfortunately when the battery is already full the car will not overcharge, causing lightning bolts to shoot out the wheels like you’re the Emperor.
- I will never own a gas-powered car again.