After many years of false dawns, inadequate range and performance, electric cars are at last being rightfully seen as practical, reliable and affordable. Two cars are leading the market right now, the BMW i3 in its two versions and the Mitsubishi PHEV. Established cars with newly added plug-in charging to bolster their hybrid systems, such as the Toyota Prius are also selling well. Additionally, the Vauxhall Ampera, with an on-board generator must also be considered
Starting with my favourite, the BMW i3, in normal format early users are covering about 100 miles on a charge thanks to weight saving technology and clever battery management. The range extender version has an easy 200 mile range, with a theoretical unlimited range if you are more patient. It feels like a small 4×4 in driving position and view, but is much lighter. Should you so desire, the i3 can cover the 0-100 kmh in about 7 seconds, but that is really not what these cars are all about
Delivered in the USA already, the reports from tests and new drivers have been favourable . There have been no reports of failures, but BMW still provide a three year unlimited warranty and an eight year warranty on any electrical parts. BMW have included 24 hour roadside assistance as well
Driving the i3 is very quiet, with the motor making only a slight hum. As you take your foot off accelerator, the energy recovery system begins to slow the car down, this may take some learning as the system provides additional braking. Drivers and tests in the US have led to a consumer rating web site giving the i3 range extender an average fuel consumption of 118 mpg. That’s up with BMW’s own figures
For someone covering a high mileage, the range extender is a real proposition for someone considering personal car leasing that has maybe not looked at an electric car before. Whereas the monthly payment is not the cheapest, add back the savings on fuel and the i30 range extender is an affordable option
The Mitsubishi PHEV
The PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid 4×4. Cleverly, the electric motors have a rear wheel each and the petrol engine the front wheels. A fantastic set up come winter
Because of the way that fuel consumption figures are calculated, the PHEV is given a combined of 148 mpg. But, as this is only sustainable for a little more than 30 miles, a figure, still fantastic, of 100 mpg is more likely. Once you are driving mostly on the engine, a figure in the late 30’s is likely. Spend your time on motorways, and the diesel is a better bet. A great feature of the car is the ability to decide to turn off the electric motors and preserve or charge the batteries, as you arrive in town you can switch to all electric power for emission free driving.
The Outlander is a great car to drive. Mitsubishi know how to get things right on a dashboard and ergonomically. The centrally placed screen gives a constant read out of drive and range info. At any time you will know whether you are being powered by petrol or electricity and the available electric only range is displayed constantly, encouraging you to drive economically.
At £266 per month right now, the PHEV is a great option for someone who may need 4×4 room, occasionally has to handle snowy or icy conditions but wants the fuel consumption of a Golf. Mitsubishi build quality and reliability are legendary, have a good look at this car