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Sep 12

Road Test Special: Living With An Electric Vehicle – A Day-To-Day Comparison of Three Models (INTRODUCTION)

EV Charge Logo, Iain ShanklandLast year a lot had been said in the media about EV’s and how many we’re going to see in the very near future. This year everything regarding EV’s has kicked up another notch with many manufacturers falling over each other trying to be the first with the best offerings to the public.

Various governments have also stepped up and are fully committed to change the automotive landscape from traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles to EV’s (see descriptions of various EV’s below). The incentives vary from a couple of thousand dollars to many thousands of dollars – thanks to forward-thinking governments, the incentives will encourage everyone from the general public to the auto manufacturers to fast-forward the world to a utopian electric vehicle future… just like the in the movies and TV shows.

That’s all well and good, but what about NOW – what’s available and is it really worth the trouble so soon in the development of the EV for general consumption?

If you’ve followed my road tests over the years, you know I’ve always been at the forefront of trying out the hybrid vehicles from the various manufacturers. I always wanted to know and share if the vehicle was worth the additional money, if the fuel savings were really all that they were projecting to be – and most important of all… Do they drive and operate like regular vehicles or are they just crap? And would I buy one?

Experiment Time: Living With Three Electric Vehicles – A Day-To-Day Comparison
I’ve already covered numerous hybrids and they have good and bad points, (certainly not over-the-top in the exciting category), but for a commuter stuck in traffic twice a day, five days a week – excitement isn’t at all important, but fuel savings and comfort is. But what about BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) or PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles)? Are they different and if so how different? Are they better, worse or just another variation of a hybrid?

Well, let’s grab a couple of vehicles for a week each and see what it’s like to live with them in the real world on a day-to-day basis.

Comprehensive Day-To-Day Life With An EV

First up, the 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, followed by the All-New 2017 Chevrolet Volt, and finally the All-New all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt.EV Comparo Combo, Iain Shankland, Road-Test.org

Although similar, each vehicle is different from the other. For example the Fusion Energi is a traditional hybrid, but you can plug it in and use electric power only – if you chose. I’ll be choosing electric whenever possible in this experiment. The Chevy Volt has been redesigned for the 2017 model year, but is essentially unchanged in the way it operates. It’s an electric vehicle that you plug in, but for longer distances the “Gas-powered Range Extender” or “gas-powered generator” AKA: its 1.5L 4-cylinder traditional engine, charges the battery only – it does NOT power the vehicle. And finally, the Bolt is an out-and-out electric… once the juice is used up – you’re toast, unless you re-charge the battery. Fully deplete the battery, and you’re looking at 50 hours to recharge using a regular 120 volt plug!

Note: Quebec/B.C./Ontario Electric Vehicle Incentive Programs are listed below…Ontario has the highest rebates and are quoted with the cars…

Before we look at each individual car, let’s discuss exactly what constitutes an EV (Electric Vehicle) or Hybrid Vehicle….

  • Conventional hybrids – combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor to propel the vehicle. These vehicles have an electric motor and battery but they can’t be plugged in and recharged.
  • PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) – similar to conventional hybrids in that they have an electric motor and internal combustion engine, however the PHEV batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet. The vehicle operates using the battery or the engine.
  • BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) – runs exclusively on electricity via on-board batteries that are charged by plugging into an outlet or charging station.
  • Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV) – uses an electric-only motor like a BEV. Instead of recharging a battery, FCEVs store hydrogen gas in a tank. The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen from the air to produce electricity. The electricity from the fuel cell then powers an electric motor, which powers the vehicle just like a BEV.

At the moment, hydrogen is a great concept and would be ideal to replace traditional ICE (Internal Combustible Engine) vehicles, but we’re not really there yet – give it another couple of years and we might see more come through the pipeline. For now we’ll concentrate on what’s available: Hybrid, BEV and PHEV.

This is NOT a road test of each vehicle, it’s just an overview of how-they-work in relation to each other – on a day-to-day basis. Each vehicle will have its own road test in a separate article.

You have two options at this point….
1. A Twitter Version (very short to-the-point, skimming the highlights) Pick this version if you are easily distracted by squirrels  CLICK HERE
2. The Full-Details, Nitty-gritty version (in bullet form – easy on the eyes but still detailed) Pick this version if you really want to know… CLICK HERE


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Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland + Respective Copyright Owners

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