CHANGE, BAT­TERY

Driv­ing an elec­tric BMW i3 led to Lynn’s elec­tri­fy­ing dis­cov­ery that it is the car that drives her and not the other way around.

Torque (Singapore) - - FACES - LYNN TAN

GET­TING be­hind the wheel of a car, we think that it is us, the driv­ers, who are in con­trol. But the cars we are driv­ing can in­flu­ence the way we drive more than we re­alise.

For in­stance, I find my­self zip­ping around in a sporty hatch­back, whereas in a flag­ship sedan I would sim­ply cruise along. And I tend to over­take more of­ten in a per­for­mance car, be­cause I am con­fi­dent that I can pull off the ma­noeu­vre within a smaller win­dow of op­por­tu­nity. I re­cently test-drove the BMW i3 (94Ah ver­sion). Com­pared to the first gen­er­a­tion that I drove a few years ago, this up­dated model has a sig­nif­i­cantly higher bat­tery ca­pac­ity that in­creases the elec­tric range to ap­prox­i­mately 200 kilo­me­tres. To­gether with the on-board Range Ex­ten­der (REx), a 650cc 2-cylin­der petrol engine, the range can be stretched by ap­prox­i­mately 100-150 kilo­me­tres. So, in to­tal, that

makes a com­bined range of about 300 kilo­me­tres, which can be con­sid­ered more than ad­e­quate, es­pe­cially in the Sin­ga­pore con­text.

With the first i3 that I drove, I was con­scious of be­ing af­flicted by range anx­i­ety. That car had an elec­tric range of only about 100 kilo­me­tres, which is still more than suf­fi­cient for a day’s drive. Nev­er­the­less, I found my­self con­stantly eye­ing the range gauge as if it is a tick­ing time bomb, and men­tally cal­cu­lat­ing the dis­tances that I still needed to cover be­fore a charge is due.

A few years on, charg­ing is less of an is­sue. The grow­ing Green­lots net­work in Sin­ga­pore cur­rently has 60 pub­lic charg­ing sta­tions at over 30 build­ings and 80 charg­ing sta­tions at over 25 con­do­mini­ums.

There­fore, chances are that you will be able to find a charg­ing sta­tion around your vicin­ity when the bat­tery runs low. Be­sides charg­ing the car at home, you could even do so while at work, in a meet­ing or over lunch.

With the up­dated 94Ah i3, I was still check­ing the range fre­quently, but for a rather dif­fer­ent rea­son than range anx­i­ety.

For starters, I drove in Eco Pro mode most of the time, which al­most never hap­pened in a petrol-driven BMW, or any other reg­u­lar car, for that mat­ter. Some­how, be­cause I was driv­ing an elec­tric car, it was as if I was sub­con­sciously in­doc­tri­nated with sus­tain­abil­ity im­per­a­tives and felt driven to con­serve power, es­pe­cially since I re­alised that Eco Pro mode did not com­pro­mise on the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at all. There was the ex­tra 100km from the i3’s REx, but I was not plan­ning on touch­ing that re­serve at all. I in­tended to rely solely on elec­tric power, and the REx, should it be utilised, would merely tide me over un­til I get to plug-in.

In a hy­brid ve­hi­cle, how­ever, my at­ti­tude is to­tally dif­fer­ent. Its in­ter­nal com­bus­tion engine takes prece­dence over the elec­tric mo­tor, so I would use it like a reg­u­lar petrol-fu­elled car, with the hy­brid el­e­ment there just to en­hance the fuel ef­fi­ciency. WITH THE UP­DATED BMW i3, LYNN EX­PE­RI­ENCED A TO­TAL CHANGE IN HER DRIV­ING HABIT, PROV­ING THAT A CAR CAN CRE­ATE A PARADIGM SHIFT IN A DRIVER.

The colum­nist re­lied purely on the juice pro­vided by the i3’s bat­tery and didn’t in­tend to use the range ex­ten­der func­tion.

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