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This month marks three years of driving an electric car, a 2019 Jaguar I-Pace. I’ve written a lot about this, the research that went into it, what it feels like to own and operate, and the experience of driving it 1725km across Canada and back. All this on the theory that EV’s are an important tool in our best climate-emergency strategy. Like basically 100% of people who’ve gone electric, there’s no going back. In 2022, the requirements niche where a fossil-powered car makes sense is narrow and shrinking fast.

The Niche · IF you need to travel 500km (about 300 miles) on a regular basis, AND IF you really can’t handle that trip taking an extra hour, well then, suck it up, live in the past, get a vehicle that’s less reliable and more expensive to run and more damaging to life on Earth.

BUT, don’t invest too much, because in a small number of years that niche will have narrowed to zero.

But which EV? · If your driving is (like most people’s) mostly putt-putting around town, and you get on the highway to visit family or whatever once or twice a year… it doesn’t matter. Any modern EV will do the job. Shop by budget or by style and you won’t be unhappy. But I do have opinions.

Tesla? · They’re still ahead on charging — both availability and charging speed — and on cargo/interior space. As for style, it’s a matter of taste.

They still have real build-quality problems. And I think their experiment in moving all the interaction to a tablet off to the driver’s side can be declared a failure. When I’m driving I want the basic info right in front of me, and I want the meat-and-potatoes controls on physical knobs and levers that my hands can find without me looking. I don’t think I’m weird.

The Teslas are still great cars, on balance, But they no longer stand alone, not even close.

Style? · A lot of the really good EVs are ugly (Hyundai, VW) or just crushingly boring (Audi, Volvo/Polestar, Mustang). To give Tesla credit, they have a consistently unique design vocabulary, which some people like.

I think there are only two EVs that are uncontroversial design triumphs: The Jag and the Porsche Taycan.

Jaguar I-Pace in the rain
· · ·
Porsche Taycan

Observed unposed, in the wild.

Range · So, here’s the thing: Range doesn’t matter. No, really, it doesn’t. What that linked piece explains, in 1,300 or so words, is that range only matters for long-hauling, that most modern EVs have plenty, and that charging speed matters way more. So…

Charging speed · Remember, this only matters if you do a significant amount of long-haul driving. But then it matters a lot. At this point, Tesla still has a lead, because there are more Superchargers and the cars (recent models at least) charge damn fast.

Looking at EVs shipping today, as far as I know, only the Taycan and Hyundai Ioniq 5 have Tesla-comparable speeds, and that depends on finding 200kW-and-up chargers, and those chargers being in working order. Today, that can be chancy.

Having said that, there’s a tsunami of charging-station investment happening right now. It’s a problem that nobody’s really figured out the business model. But it would be surprising if the rest of the ecosystem weren’t at least very close to Tesla in a very few years.

Quality · Generally, companies that built high-quality gas cars also build high-quality EVs. But note that it’s a little easier with EVs because there are immensely fewer moving parts and nothing that needs to handle volatile burning fluids or wrangle gear ratios.

Which is maybe why companies that are not famous for a history of high quality seem to do well too, if my experience with the Jaguar is evidence. In three years I’ve had one trip to the dealer, when the aircon stopped working.

Tesla still has ground to make up on the quality front. For example, consider this comparo between a Tesla Y and an Ioniq 5 (the video is good too); Tesla comes out way behind on build quality, especially rattles and squeaks. When my Jag hits a pothole or I take a speed-bump too fast, it’s like a single silent block of steel, nary a rattle.

Infotainment · I suspect that the future here belongs to Google and Apple. The only car company whose infotainment/Driver-experience software comes close is Tesla. But it’s gonna be tough, CarPlay and Android Auto are getting really good. All I had to do is plug in my phone and then all my music and messaging and calendar and contacts and so on Just Worked. Why would I expect a car company to do better?

What I’d buy · Suppose a meteorite hits the Jag when I’m not in it and I’m back to square one. While I love the look of the Taycan, I wouldn’t go there because of this:

Jaguar I-Pace with back heavily loaded

The Jag has been overwhelmingly, ridiculously, practical. It can schlep a lot of crap. It can keep five people comfy. It can mush through deep snow and leap forward like a cat on the highway to dodge a clumsy merge-in even when you were already maybe a bit over the speed limit.

But, it can’t soak up more than 100kW from a fast charger. And it’s kind of expensive (although less than the roughly-equivalent Tesla.)

Anyhow, if I weren’t terribly price-sensitive, I’d consider the Polestar and the Audi but probably buy the Jag again.

If I wanted to step down into mid-range I’d go and have a look at the Ioniq 5 or very similar Kia EV6 and see if they’re as ugly in the flesh as they look on screen, because they seem to be really very nice cars, and charge fast.

But hey, I spend almost all my driving hours at low speed in urban traffic. So the rational thing would be to go pick up a basic Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt. They’re really good cars, very fully-debugged, and will get out of your way. And the price is right.

What it’s like · I mean, what buying a gas car is like in 2022. It’s like holding onto your flip phone in 2012. It’s like trying to find your hotel in a strange city after a red-eye with a paper map. It’s like putting your retirement savings into coal-mining investments. It’s over.



Contributions

Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Paul Guinnessy (Jan 23 2022, at 19:22)

I saw both at the DC Auto Show and the new Subaru/Toyota EV’s and the Kia looks the best of the lot.

Wish I could afford the Jag but it’s out of my price range unfortunately.

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From: Grahame grieve (Jan 23 2022, at 19:27)

I guess I’m still stuck in the niche. I regularly drive hours into the country, towing a boat or a van, and there’s no charging infrastructure to my knowledge here in Australia. I suspect that the economics mean we’ll be a long way behind :-(

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From: Peter J. (Jan 23 2022, at 22:30)

My 2022 Bolt, currently limited (like every single Bolt produced) to 80% maximum charge pending a complete battery replacement, begs to differ on "fully-debugged". But even with that restriction it still gets me from points A to B to C and back again even in southwestern Ontario's current -15°C temperatures with range to spare, and is a friendlier drive than my parents' e-Kona.

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From: Neil Tubb (Jan 24 2022, at 06:17)

I've been reading and enjoying this blog for many years, so it is with a ton of respect when I say I had to laugh with your casual "people should just buy a Jaguar or Porsche" advice. Not exactly in line with your normal, more lefty tone! :-) It is actually one of the big hurdles to the EV going mainstream...if you want real quality, suddenly I'm looking at $100k+ cars when before I wouldn't consider half that.

Otherwise, I love the article, and really agree with the idea of range not mattering. I have a 2018 Nissan Leaf, and here in frigid Ottawa, you're only getting around 140 kms range in the winter. And it doesn't matter at all, since we charge at home. Our second ICE car gets used so seldomly that we have to set a reminder to drive it.

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From: Earl Colby Pottinger (Jan 24 2022, at 07:22)

I may be a Tesla fan, but when the Jaguar came out I expected it to sell well.

It has not compared to many other BEVs, what do you think the parent company is doing wrong?

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From: TheDude (Jan 24 2022, at 07:23)

Couldn't disagree more with your on Hyundai looking ugly.

The ioniq 5 is absolutely b@dass and eclipses Tesla in a interesting aresa I'll be picking one up in 2022. I think it's the best all around package on offer today.

I'd argue it's better looking than the Jag also for almost half the price (well not quite, but a lot cheaper).

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From: AlanL (Jan 24 2022, at 10:45)

All this assumes you live in the suburbs and have a garage or a driveway in which you can charge your car at home.

If otoh you are dependent on the pathetic (and expensive) joke that is the public charging infrastructure ... my current car is a plug hybrid, my next one will be too. With more than double the electric range, so that's something.

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From: Gord Wait (Jan 24 2022, at 10:48)

(Base Tesla model 3 owner)

On the economics of the charge stations, one thing I thought about during a trip from Vancouver area to Osoyoos this last summer, was how long, even on a fast charger you have to wait, is very good for the station that sets one up. My understanding is that the typical gas station doesn't make any money on the gas, but on all the snacks they sell you.

EV drivers will hang around a bit longer and tend to get bored, and thus go shopping and help raise profits for the station.

Our favourite stop was on the way home; the supercharger was a short walk from a decent pub.

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From: John O’Shaughnessy (Jan 24 2022, at 15:55)

I’ve enjoyed this series of articles. I wish I could purchase an all electric version of my Honda Civic - for a similar price as the ICE Civic.

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From: Doug K (Jan 24 2022, at 21:38)

I'm waiting for my 2004 Ford Sport Trac to wear out, and for the Ford Maverick hybrid to become generally available. Ford has stopped selling them as the assembly line is now backed up into late 2022 with pre-orders. You'd think they might increase production at this point. Apparently supply and demand no longer works that way.

Colorado has mountains to climb and cold. It's not a good fit for an EV yet. When I'm retired if ever, I'll have enough time to wait around at charging stations. But it may not happen, so I expect the Maverick to be the last car I buy.

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From: Doug K (Jan 25 2022, at 09:02)

interesting, from Volvo -

https://www.volvocars.com/images/v/-/media/market-assets/intl/applications/dotcom/pdf/c40/volvo-c40-recharge-lca-report.pdf

analysis of their own C40, electric car vs ICE. The emissions for building electric are significantly higher than ICE. The crossover when the lifetime emissions for electric are lower, happens at 49 000km for wind energy, 110 000km for the 'global electricity mix'. Both of those are higher than I'd expected.

It just points up that we can't solve anything with individual choices. The solutions require community actions - wearing masks, building better public transit options..

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From: Joseph Scott (Jan 25 2022, at 09:58)

My wife and I purchased a Nissan Leaf last year, our first EV. Nearly all of our driving is the around town stuff, for road trips and such we will stick with our ten year old minivan.

I hope that the push towards EVs continues, after the kids are out of the house I want to be able to replace the minivan with a reasonably priced all wheel drive EV with good range and fast charging. Beyond cars though, the charing station build out needs to improve too. I have my fingers crossed that the next ten years we will see huge improvements in both areas.

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From: don Myatt (Jan 26 2022, at 11:24)

Hello Tim, Thank you for updating your jag diary. As a long time follower of your work I value your views for their objectivity and absence of hidden agenda. Also, as I share your demographic I appreciate a ''just the facts mam ' approach of joe friday.

I did not think I would consider an e vehicle for a few more years but the very rapid advances my have made it a realistic option now. I am at the point of retiring my previous auto and have to consider this could be my last purchase. Yesterday I found myself in the Jag dealer looking at that caesium blue.

BTW any updates on you bitcoin views and your options play.

don

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From: Tim (but not THE Tim) (Feb 03 2022, at 20:32)

I had a friend here in the United States who recommended buying a _used_ NissanLeaf or Chevy Bolt for your first, primarily commuter, EV. He reasoned that the price was a lot less, plus with the subsidy/tax credit (I forget which it was) for EVs it worked out to be a really good deal.

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From: AndyK (Feb 05 2022, at 13:33)

As a Nissan Leaf driver since 2014, I also always suggest a used Leaf (1st generation) for commuting or getting around town. Relatively cheap and great little hatchbacks (also a old Civic fan/owner here). Range will be be bad (as low as 60 miles-100km), but provided you have charging at home or at work, it has no impact. And like Tim says, you still get all the benefits: cheaper $/distance and cheaper maintenance. Also great first cars for teens learning to drive and be independent.

One correction to not-the-Tim: in the US, there is no government subsidy on used electric vehicles, only new sales (but not Tesla anymore).

I don't see the sense in criticizing the looks of cars, some people will like them, others will accept them if they do everything they want. And right now, a "cheaper" mini-SUV like the Kona could really get a lot of people into EVs. I also had the same thought about "buy a Jaguar or a Porsche," that doesn't work for anyone outside of tech or finance.

Finally, I took my first long road trip in a (rented) Tesla just before COVID, and I have to say, I actually liked the stops. Flagstaff was at a Marriott hotel with a Starbucks and lounge, Sedona had beautiful scenery (or shops) you could walk around and look at, and Blanding (Utah) had a small-town history museum to visit. Between Flagstaff and Blanding is the literal supercharger desert (250 miles), but there is a hotel at Tuba City and a restaurant at Bluff with level 2 chargers (and Indian fry bread). Even though I got to Phoenix 2 hours later, I wasn't as tired from the driving because of the breaks.

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January 22, 2022
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