New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - Dean Evans – [email protected]

Editor’s thoughts and opin­ions on this month’s motoring hap­pen­ings.

seem­ingly ei­ther in­duce bore­dom, ha­tred, dis­in­ter­est or a com­bi­na­tion of all three. But it need not be, be­cause we are on the edge of a time where elec­tric ve­hi­cles are get­ting a lot more in­ter­est­ing.

We’ve had hy­brid cars for more than 20 years now, but we’re now see­ing an in­flux of pure plug-in EVS that are chang­ing the way we drive, and the way we think of them.

With the in­tro­duc­tion of LDV’S V80 elec­tric van, and the Kia Niro and Hyundai Kona EV SUVS, we’re right in the mid­dle of a big step to­wards an elec­tric ve­hi­cle fu­ture. And happily, it’s not that bad. Hav­ing just sam­pled the Kona EV for a week, I had to think of the last pure elec­tric car I drove apart from a golf cart… and I ac­tu­ally had to go way back to the very first.

I was one of the first motoring jour­nal­ists in the world to drive the first elec­tric pro­duc­tion car, the GM EV1 - a year be­fore its launch in 1996. In 1995, in Dis­ney­land, Cal­i­for­nia, GM had set up a preview driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with the GM EV1, and a 0-60mph chal­lenge (I think mid-eight-sec­onds). It was strapped down on a dyno and less ex­cit­ing than play­ing an Atari 2600 video game, the ex­pe­ri­ence in­volv­ing wait­ing for a count­down timer and floor­ing the throt­tle un­til it hit 60mph. But it was my first and only taste of an elec­tric car… un­til 23 years later in the 2018 Kona.

And if I wasn’t im­pressed then, I am now. What was re­mark­able wasn’t the ex­pected at­tributes like the im­me­di­ate torque and quiet run­ning, but the un­ex­pected as­pects: when sit­ting on 100km/h, a con­ven­tional en­gine is pulling low rpm, a high gear and is lazily idling along con­serv­ing as many re­sources as pos­si­ble. In a sit­u­a­tion where a sin­gle lane road ex­pands into an over­tak­ing lane, and the in­evitable multi-lane Grand Prix starts, a con­ven­tional en­gine to down­shift one, two, maybe even four gears: it then sum­mons the power or torque of the en­gine by swing­ing the revs into the right range and/or even build turbo boost; ob­vi­ously the in­ten­sity of this happening is de­pen­dent on the en­gine, ca­pac­ity and its per­for­mance, but the EV cre­ates a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence: nail the throt­tle and it in­stantly goes! EVS are in­sanely fast in those sit­u­a­tions; say from 80-100km/h sim­ply be­cause of re­sponse time be­tween throt­tle pedal mov­ing and the car ac­cel­er­at­ing. Of course if we move up to ve­hi­cles like the Tesla Model X, as we high­lighted last is­sue as the world’s fastest SUV, then it just SHOUTS THE SAME MES­SAGE IN CAPS AND TRIPLE EX­PLA­NA­TION POINTS!!!

Af­ter a week of driv­ing an EV and feel­ing the na­ture of re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing and en­ergy scav­eng­ing, get­ting back into a nor­mal car feels waste­ful; that ev­ery time it’s rolling down­hill or us­ing the brakes, it’s sim­ply let­ting all that en­ergy go to waste.

With the first prime movers and large trucks be­ing an­nounced this year, the trans­port in­dus­try is of­ten the first to em­brace this new tech­nol­ogy, with per­for­mance be­ing a pos­i­tive by-prod­uct of the tech­nol­ogy.

We’ve seen su­per­cars re­ceive drip-down tech­nol­ogy from For­mula 1 over re­cent years with the likes of the La Fer­rari and Porsche 918 Spy­der both us­ing bat­ter­ies and elec­tric mo­tors for ul­ti­mate per­for­mance. And while we’re start­ing to see it in the SUV world, over the com­ing years, we’ll see the same EV and bat­tery tech spread across the whole range of ve­hi­cles, from two-seat sports cars to seven-seaters and even utes.

And with that will come im­proved con­ve­nience: the cur­rent method of thick, chunky charg­ing cables plugged into the car will surely be re­placed by cord­less in­duc­tive charg­ers built into home garage floors and of­fice park­ing bays.

With com­pany and govern­ment man­dates for the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of fleets, it’s an ex­cit­ing time for elec­tric ve­hi­cles be­cause man­u­fac­tur­ers re­alise it’s in­creas­ingly be­com­ing less about the high-priced, feel-good side, and more about re­duc­ing fuel bills while keep­ing it ex­cit­ing. I sat in front of the TV for the Bathurst 1000, I’ve burnt my fair of pre­mium fuel just driv­ing for the en­joy­ment, and I love the sound of a V8, highly strung four-cylin­der, turbo or su­per­charger, but I’m quite happy about head­ing to­wards an elec­tric fu­ture be­cause the car in­dus­try is still full of car peo­ple who know buy­ers and driv­ers want and need a bit of ex­cite­ment. Charge!

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