Today I drove the new I-Pace 290.3 mostly highway kilometers. In the best online I-Pace community, the top topic, with 1,115 posts as I write, is I-Pace range. Because when you come to electric cars, range anxiety is a thing. Today’s road-trip report will cover the general highway experience but, since it’s the hot topic, will zero in on range. Spoiler: You can almost always go 300km without trying too hard.
Here’s the trip.
What it feels like · The I-Pace is a dream on the big highway. To be fair, this is largely due to it being a well-built modern car with modern features.
I think I already mentioned the seats are fabulous, but it’s worth saying again: really great.
The weather was lousy, between 5°C and 8°C pretty well the whole way, alternating between drizzle and lashing rain. The climate control is actually not as vanishingly perfect as our old 2003 Audi’s, as in sometimes you notice the fans are blowing a little harder than you’d like on your torso or thighs; easy to correct though.
The automatic setting on the wipers did the job, shifting from extra-slow intermittent in the drizzle to bangin’ ’em hard in a tractor-trailer’s wake in a downpour.
The assisted-cruise-control is a treat. You set a maximum cruising speed and when there’s someone in front of you (i.e. almost all the time) it follows them automatically; the default follow distance gives you exactly the two-second gap recommended in safety tips.
By the way, I am not remotely interested in any “self-driving” capability that falls short of “Tim can open up his laptop and do a code review.” Seriously, what’s the point?
But I think the assisted-cruise makes the highways globally safer at a level related to the number of people using it.
I read at least one reviewer who said the Jag’s assisted-cruise implementation wasn’t up there with the best. I can believe it; when a slowpoke pulls out in front of you, the Jag deploys the heavy regen and it can be kind of shocking. And when you get out from behind someone who’s going a whole lot slower than you’ve set the cruise, the Jag decides it’s on a drag-strip.
On the subject of raw power: I drove conservatively, assuming that this lurid-blue lightning bolt would be a cop magnet. But there were a few occasions when I booted it, for example when asshats tried to dart into my two-second gap, and on one occasion when I realized that I was about to be seriously in the way of three cars trying to merge from an on-ramp I hadn’t noticed, and there was no room to move over. Well, tee-hee-hee, there are very few cars in the world that can rocket-launch forward from a starting speed well over 100km/h the way this does.
The car’s whisper-quiet around town (so nice) but when you’re doing 70+mph on rough asphalt in a driving rainstorm, it’s not dramatically quieter than a decent modern fossil car; the tires and all the air and water hitting the car can get in the way if you’re playing soft music.
Bottom line: I’ve driven this route too many times, in a variety of automobiles, my own and rented. The I-Pace got me home feeling a really a lot less stressed and wasted than anything else I’ve done the trip in.
Now, about range · The wisest thing I’ve seen on the subject is on the ipaceforums.co.uk site in a post by DougTheMac. It’s worth reading in full, but here are a couple of excerpts. This point, on how to think about range, is crucial:
I think there’s a big difference between the required behaviour on a longer-than-usual trip and a very-long-trip. The difference is because on a road trip, you are reluctant to let the SoC get below maybe 20% in case the charger you are relying on isn’t available and you have to divert. Also, on a road trip, you probably only want to recharge up to 80% because the last 20% is very slow. So, the distance between recharging stops on a very long trip is perhaps 60% of the actual achievable range.
But if you start from home with a full charge and pre-conditioned, and your destination at the end of the day is either home again or a destination with 100% certainty of an overnight charge, then you can use 95%+ of the battery capacity with reasonable confidence.
Explanatory note on “conditioning”. You can tell the car what time you plan to depart, and on schedule it’ll get the cabin all pre-heated for you, and if it’s plugged in, also boost the battery to the correct operating temperature. This is said to increase range, but I have no idea how much.
Here are his conclusions (for those of us in metric-land, his breakpoints of 100M, 150M, and 190M are around, respectively, 160km, 240km, and 300km):
Trip distance <100M: Charge to 80% (! q.v.), pre-condition, drive to have fun.
Trip distance <150M: Charge to 100%, pre-condition, drive to have fun.
Trip distance <190M: Charge to 100%, pre-condition, drive a bit more gently, monitor, but expect to get to destination without a charge en route, albeit perhaps down to <5% on arrival.
Trip distance 190-310M: Plan for a single en-route charge, ideally from c20% SoC (to give the safety margin required in case the planned charger is unavailable) but only up to the SoC required to get to the final destination with a minimal SoC (5%?). A single 20%-80% charge should add 120M (80%-20%=60%x200M), hence 190+120=310M with 5% on arrival at the “safe” destination. But if you only need an extra 50M, you only put in the required amount to just get you to your safe destination.
Like I said at the top: You can go 300km, assuming you’re sure of having a place to charge when you get there. The road to Seattle is 230km with lots of hills, and there are long stretches where the speed limit is 70mph and everyone cruises at 80. So while a chilly day like today isn’t the North American worst case — that would be something like Canada’s Rogers Pass in midwinter — it’s worse than average.
I used the car’s “comfort mode” both ways; it’s got an “eco mode” which could probably have done better. On the trip down I still had 90km of advertised range when I pulled up to a charger in the basement of an Amazon building, which suggests a total of 320km. Today I went 290.3km at an average speed of 87km/h and had 8% charge when I got home. The car said it had 26km of range left; do the math.
Recharge · After I unloaded, I headed over to the handy neighborhood fast-charger, where by “fast” I mean 50kW. This is about as close to a “full charge” as the Jag is ever likely to get: 78.174 kWh in 2 hours.
Conclusion · Modern battery-electric cars are just fine for medium-long road trips.