With petrol and diesel prices costing more than frankincense and myrrh (probably), many consumers are now shopping around seriously for an electric car.
Many of my friends and family have spotted the little green flash on the number plate of my long term Audi Q4 e-tron and paid a newfound interest in what it’s like to own.
While electric cars are rapidly becoming commonplace – with alternatively fuelled cars even outselling diesel cars in March this year in the UK – there’s still a lot of undecided buyers out there.
For what it’s worth, I’ve found adapting to life with an electric car relatively smooth, but it certainly helps that the Q4 has a brilliant range and is easy to live with.
At 305 miles (on a good day), the Q4 is more than capable of dealing with a week’s worth of my average mileage without needing a top up. In fact, sometimes I can go two.
When it does need a charge, I simply plug it into a standard plug in my garage and it slowly fills up. This is not really the best way to charge an electric car – you’re much better off with a dedicated home charger – but I’ve not got one and have had to make do.
It works, albeit just a bit slowly. It’s essentially a 1kw charger, compared to the 7kw you can get from a dedicated charger, so it takes more than 24 hours to fully charge from empty.
At the moment, if it’s plugged in overnight, it gains about 30 per cent of its battery range. That isn’t great, but for what I use it for, it works.
It certainly beats feeling the pain at the petrol pumps, too. The convenience of being able to come home and plug your car in to fill it up has a lot to be said for it.
Over the last few months I’ve grown very fond of the Q4. Yes, the ride is a little hard and it communicates the deepest potholes directly to your spine, but the premium feel to the interior and practicality of an SUV have made it enjoyable to run.
This is a first edition model and I’ve moaned in previous reports about its lack of silly things that you just assume Audis come with – keyless entry for one and front parking sensors.
I’ve missed the former the most as, even now, four months into its stay with me, I still sometimes forget I need to press a button to open the doors. Yes I know, if ever there was a first world problem, it’s that.
There have been a few quirks I’ve had to get used to as well. The multimedia system has had a few funny five minutes, but always seems to work itself out with a good old fashioned ‘turn it off and on again’ routine.
Last time I wrote about the Audi it had mysteriously locked me out of the car. While that was rather annoying, I’m pleased to report it hasn’t done it again. Hopefully that was just the e-tron having one of its ‘moments’.
Now the weather has warmed up, I’m getting much better mileage from the batteries. During the depths of winter, when the heating and heated seats were getting a good workout, I was getting around 250-270 miles from a charge. Now, it’s much closer to 300.
While some might think that’s a bit strange – and an ‘EV thing’ – you need to remember that traditional combustion engined cars are exactly the same, they all vary depending on how you use them.
As an aside, I found some recent research by battery charging specialists CTEK particularly interesting, considering the Q4 sat outside. The firm analysed the cost benefits of running petrol, diesel and electric cars, on a cost per mile basis, taking into account the recent fuel price rises.
The firm says, on average, an electric car now costs around 7p per mile, compared to 20.5p for petrol and 18.6p for diesel.
That’s considering you charge at home at an average price of 28p per kWh. No wonder more and more people are looking at swapping to an EV with savings like that being bandied around.
Ok, so you need to factor in the additional cost of buying an EV in the first place, but it’s still good to know that driving one does work out cheaper overall.
Elsewhere, I’ve been putting the e-tron to good use with my on-going house refurbishments. It’s swallowed huge amounts of rubbish for the tip and scrubbed up rather well once I’ve finished.
There’s something quite satisfying about using a car for some hard work, then getting it gleaming again afterwards (with the help of the local car cleaners).
But back to the point of this long term update – trying to answer what’s it like living with an EV and whether I’d make the swap myself? Well, living with it is surprisingly easy, as long as you can charge at home. But would I make the swap away from combustion completely? Well, my love affair with the fuel sippers isn’t quite over yet, but it’s certainly beginning to wane.