CUT COSTS AND PLUG INTO THE FU­TURE

Can you go out for a day in an elec­tric car and spend less than a fiver? Alasdair Sut­tie puts BMW’S i3 to the test

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - ALASDAIR SUT­TIE

BMW I3

RE­SEARCH sug­gests that 26% of car buy­ers think elec­tric cars are more expensive to run than con­ven­tional com­bus­tion-en­gined cars, but that may not ac­tu­ally be the case.

The Go Ul­tra Low study re­vealed the av­er­age an­nual main­te­nance costs for a petrol or diesel car are around £400 — as well as this es­sen­tial work keep­ing the car off the road for two days.

Yet the av­er­age an­nual ser­vic­ing costs for an elec­tric car come in at a more mod­est £94.

With fewer mov­ing parts and also fewer con­sum­ables such as en­gine oil and spark plugs, elec­tric cars spend less time off the road.

A pre­vi­ous study by Go Ul­tra Low also re­vealed that elec­tric cars cost a sixth as much to run — 2p per mile ver­sus 12p — giv­ing a sav­ing of £750 based on 7,500 miles a year.

Then we were set an even more fru­gal chal­lenge — was it pos­si­ble to en­joy a trip out, trav­el­ling by elec­tric car, and spend less than a fiver?

That’s how we found our­selves cruis­ing down the M5 in BMW’S eye-catch­ing i3 elec­tric car. It’s an in­trigu­ing prospect in­side and out, look­ing like noth­ing else on the road and a project of the near fu­ture rather than now.

With a fully charged battery cost­ing less than £2, the i3 promised a range in ex­cess of 90 miles, more than enough for our 40-mile jour­ney.

It’s also up to you how you drive. In full Eco Pro mode the i3 will en­cour­age you to keep your speed down in or­der to ex­tend the range, but there’s noth­ing to stop you from hur­ry­ing along at 70mph or more. The truth is the ex­pe­ri­ence is more plea­sur­able at lower speeds, as the silent pow­er­train does its thing.

The cabin is just as smart as the ex­te­rior, with a free-float­ing dash­board and big glazed area cre­at­ing an airy co­coon, with gad­gets you’d find in any other pre­mium car; sat­nav, heated seats, cli­mate con­trol — all taken care of.

Thanks to its com­pact dimensions, park­ing was a cinch. Bet­ter still, charg­ing points are pop­ping up ev­ery­where, with a num­ber of sta­tions dot­ted around towns and cities and in ma­jor car parks al­low­ing you to top up while you shop or en­joy some leisure time.

You can cut and thrust with the best of them — the i3’s ac­cel­er­a­tion is sur­pris­ingly strong — but that misses the point.

A less hur­ried ap­proach is good for you and the en­vi­ron­ment, and that’s a bonus of elec­tric cars that should be em­braced.

The com­pact and stylish in­te­rior of the BMW i3 comes equipped with the lat­est tech, in­clud­ing sat­nav, heated seats and cli­mate con­trol to make your jour­ney as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble

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