Yesterday I drove the I-Pace to Seattle and back in one day, 459.8km (285.7 miles); the second time I’ve done that. What with that, and coming up for four months ownership, I thought it was time for another, maybe the final, instalment in this diary. Mostly good news — by a wide margin the best car I’ve ever driven let alone owned — but nothing’s perfect.
Range · That’s still the biggest talking point about electric cars. But up here in the Pacific Northwest anyhow, the charging network is pretty well good enough and getting better. If I’m staying overnight in Seattle I use the Level 2 chargers in the Amazon buildings. But on single-day round-trips you need more watts. On both of those trips I used PlugShare to find fast DC chargers, and both were by EVgo. I really have no gripes, their gear seems to Just Work.
The charger above is in Lynnwood, a suburb just north of Seattle. Amusingly, all the EVgo chargers have names, which actually help you to figure out which is which when they’re in a cluster. That’s “Elijah” in Lynnwood.
The screenshot is from one of the chargers (“Ceres” and “Millie”) at the REI flagship store, which at a block off I-5 is super-handy, and also a beautiful place to hang out and visit. On this particular trip I got there a little early and charged for 28 minutes before my meetings and then another 25 after, picking up a total of 41kWh, and getting home with 30km of battery to spare. EVgo charged me $16.28.
The attentive reader will note that 117A at 415V is 48.55kW. I have yet to encounter one of the rumored-to-exist 100kW chargers, but 53 minutes of charging for nearly six hours of driving at highway speeds across hilly terrain is bearable. At this point a snotty Tesla owner will point out that they have 100kW now and (for many of them) it’s free. Yeah, but your car is boring.
It’s worth noting that those fast chargers are kind of noisy; when they’re pumping 50kW into your vehicle there are heavy-duty mechanical sounds coming out; presumably fans? So you probably wouldn’t want one right next to your patio or bedroom window.
Since we’re talking about charging, obviously almost all of that happens at home. We hardly ever car-commute, with just minor puttering around town and weekend excursions, end up charging once every week or ten days. Looking at my power bill reveals I pay somewhere around $2.50/day when I don’t charge, and six or seven bucks when I do. Yeah, the car pulls twice as much as the rest of the house put together. OK, our stove and water heater are natural gas; but still.
Above is the little carport we put in because I didn’t want either the charger or the Jag out in the weather all the time. If you look close you can see the charger just behind the car. This is just after the return from Seattle, so the car’s a little cruddy.
The home “Level 2” charger is entirely silent, but then depending on the temperature the car sometimes turns on its fans to heat or cool the batteries while charging; not for long, though.
We don’t have a garage door to open, but I wired the carport light up with a LiftMaster 823lm light switch and now I can turn it on with the garage-door control on the car’s rearview when I’m coming home after dark. I also had to get a LiftMaster remote control so I could turn it back off from inside the house.
Good stuff · You just can’t drive this puppy around without smiling. It’s smooth, comfy, and amazingly athletic. Merging onto a big highway is pure joy, and taking uphill curves hard will make you laugh out loud. Even going with the flow in heavy traffic is a lot more relaxing than you’re probably used to. When I get in any gas car now, it feels klunky, noisy, and unresponsive.
You get compliments and smiles from border guards, both US and Canadian. Now that is a new experience.
Yesterday was a super-warm Spring day so now I’ve driven it in four seasons, more or less; the climate control and general comfort is uniformly excellent, and I had my first experience of cooled seats, which feel amazingly great when you’ve been driving for a couple of hours in the sun.
When I first got in the car I hated the audio, it sounded tinny and like it was coming out of the windshield. And yeah, the default settings are lousy but they’re easy enough to fiddle; now the sound’s a warm bath of rich silky chocolate.
There are 3405km on the odometer (we’re pretty urban) and I haven’t had anything go wrong. Oh wait, let me amend that. Sometimes (not very often) things will get a little weird — Android Auto won’t connect, or the radio-station list won’t be there, or whatever. So, just like any other mobile computerized device, you pull over and you turn it off and back on again, and generally then you’re OK. One time I had to reboot both the car and my phone.
Bad things · I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This car’s a joybringer on any road, urban or rural or freeway, but it is a complete fucking pig to park. It’s wide, and because of the cab-forward design you totally can’t see the teeny front hood of the car at all from behind the wheel, so how in hell are you supposed to know whether you’re properly lined up at the curb or evenly between the lines? All these weeks in, I can now generally do a parallel park and end up about as straight as I’d expect from a 16-year-old trainee driver. But I often have to take two or three passes at ordinary parking-lot slots. And as for our carport, it isn’t any too big, and the alley it’s off of isn’t any too wide. I have on a single-digit number of occasions backed in straight and centered on the first try, but never when any of the neighbors or family are watching. I didn’t order the front camera option; maybe that was a mistake? Anyhow, I’m sure in another year or two I’ll be drifting into the carport.
What else can I complain about? Yeah, the infotainment software is a little slow and klunky. Six months into shipping this thing JLR still doesn’t have the software OTA working. I’m hoping that pretty soon it’ll be like my Fujifilm cameras and periodically get updates that add features and make things better.
Just a car · At the end of the day, that’s all it is. It makes me happy to drive, happy to talk about, and I’m loading the atmosphere with a whole lot less carbon than I used to. But a new car isn’t a life-changer. Except for now I get a few more smiles every week.