My experiences with the Mitsubishi iMiev
We have been driving the zero emission Mitsubishi iMiev electric car for over a year now, and it is a great 4 seater compact town car. It looks a bit like a computer mouse, Parking is easy as it is so small, and the 100 km range means that it can cover most city journeys. In winter the range is reduced due to the effect of the cold on the battery, and I can just make it to the airport and back (around 60km) before I start to get nervous about “tanking”.
Charging is however easy – into a standard plug in the garage – and if the sun is shining we are even more smug than usual about our “green credentials” as we are charging the car for free directly from the photo-voltaic panels.
One small negative point is the irritating high pitched whining noise it has been programmed to make to warn pedestrians you are there – but luckily there is an “off” button, and I haven’t driven over anyone yet. Also it struggles a bit in the snow – but I will probably still be waiting for another 10 years for the electric Landrover Defender to go into production (a few test cars have been produced, and are apparently great for safaris as they are so quiet).
One of the great joys of having an electric car is that you don’t have to go to those smelly dirty unfriendly places called petrol stations. Just hoping that there will soon be more places around town to plug in the car – such as at the airport or in garages. And what about a no parking fee policy in Europe for electric cars – that might encourage many more people to switch.
My experiences with the Opel Ampera
We have been driving the hybrid Opel Ampera for over a year, a 4 seater with great futuristic design and high speed. The second you start the car it greets the driver with a zooming sound that reminds one of the Delorian in the movie “Back to the Future”. It feels like a REal Future CAr! It runs on a completely electric motor which is connected to a battery that when fully charged grants around 40 kilometers of range. Furthermore there is a generator that runs on petrol that powers the motor once the stored energy is depleted. This concept is perfect for cities, as one barely drives more than 40 km on an average day. Once the car is home in the garage, one can just charge it by plugging it into a normal power outlet.
I have found myself spending more money in carwashes than in petrol stations. Solar panels on our house’s roof charge the battery at home, and if we go to stay in a hotel far away, I just take the charging cable along and tap into their power source.
With a 160 horsepower and very quick acceleration due to it’s electric motor, it is great fun to drive in cities. However on longer trips on highways maintaining about 140 kilometers per hour, one can feel the motor and generator were not optimized for long range usage. At these sorts of speeds, the generator uses about 5 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers, which is fairly high compared to 0 in the city.