TECH: TORQUE SHOP #11

Be­fore you buy an elec­tric car in Sin­ga­pore, read this Q&A to avoid any jolt­ing shock to your drive life.

Torque (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Be­fore you buy an elec­tric car in Sin­ga­pore, read this Q&A to avoid any jolt­ing shock to your drive life.

I am con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing my nine-year-old con­ven­tional car with an elec­tric car. How­ever, I have some con­cerns re­gard­ing elec­tric ve­hi­cles, such as the charg­ing and war­ranty. Are there ma­jor is­sues to con­sider and are there any driv­ing tips that would be use­ful? Cur­rently, the only elec­tric cars avail­able here are the BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq and Re­nault Zoe. More mod­els will ar­rive shortly. A ma­jor com­po­nent that may re­quire re­place­ment is the bat­tery pack, which is largely cov­ered by war­ranty. Most man­u­fac­tur­ers of­fer a war­ranty of 100,000 kilo­me­tres, while Hyundai/Ko­moco gives a 10year one-to-one re­place­ment war­ranty for its Ioniq.

Be­fore buy­ing an elec­tric car, find out the terms and con­di­tions by which a bat­tery re­place­ment can be evoked. In some cases, a re­place­ment will be granted only if the bat­tery fails com­pletely. In oth­ers, a cer­tain level of degra­da­tion qual­i­fies for re­place­ment. This is cru­cial be­cause a bat­tery that de­grades by 20 per­cent will lead to your charg­ing cost ris­ing by as much.

Main­te­nance cost of an elec­tric car is lower. For ex­am­ple, you do not need to change en­gine oil and oil fil­ter, spark plugs, fuel fil­ter, tim­ing belt or ra­di­a­tor. Hence the reg­u­lar ser­vice in­ter­vals for an elec­tric car are more for keep­ing parts such as brakes, tyres, sus­pen­sion and steer­ing in good shape.

Elec­tric ve­hi­cles are pleas­ant to drive. There is hardly any noise and ac­cel­er­a­tion is sparkling. But do bear in mind that fre­quent rapid ac­cel­er­a­tion will di­min­ish bat­tery-charge quickly.

It is bet­ter to ac­cel­er­ate firmly, but not ag­gres­sively, and coast when­ever you can to in­duce re­gen­er­a­tion of bat­tery charge (such as when ap­proach­ing a stop light or de­scend­ing a viaduct). You should also avoid “idling” with the air­con­di­tioner and ac­ces­sories on.

In short, all the good prac­tices you would adopt in a com­bus­tion en­gined­car to save fuel.

As for charg­ing, elec­tric cars are sold with a wall­mounted charg­ing port. If you live in a house, you can

THE ELEC­TRIC MO­TOR WILL EAS­ILY OUT­LAST THE REST OF THE ELEC­TRIC CAR.

in­stall that in your drive­way. In a con­do­minium, you would have to dis­cuss this with the man­age­ment com­mit­tee. It gets tricky if you live in pub­lic hous­ing.

There is, how­ever, a grow­ing net­work of pub­lic charg­ers, with at least one – lo­cated at The Heeren in Or­chard Road – of­fer­ing free charg­ing.

One full charge will typ­i­cally last you three to four days of nor­mal us­age in Sin­ga­pore.

For my next car, I am con­sid­er­ing go­ing elec­tric. If I do so, will I be sad­dled with com­plex and ex­pen­sive ser­vic­ing costs?

For starters, most work­shops to­day are not equipped to work on elec­tric cars. So, only au­tho­rised agents which bring in such cars will be able to ser­vice and re­pair them.

Es­sen­tially, the ma­jor com­po­nent that may re­quire re­place­ment in the long run is the bat­tery pack. Al­though bat­tery tech­nol­ogy is pro­gress­ing, the cur­rent elec­tric mod­els will at some point re­quire a full bat­tery re­place­ment.

There is not much in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the aver­age life­span of bat­ter­ies or the aver­age cost of re­place­ment.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers usu­ally of­fer a bat­tery war­ranty of 100,000km, which works out to about six years’ mileage for the aver­age fam­ily car in Sin­ga­pore.

Apart from the bat­tery, an elec­tric ve­hi­cle’s main­te­nance is not as com­pli­cated as an in­ter­nal com­bus­tion model’s. For in­stance, there is no need to change en­gine oil and oil fil­ter, spark plugs, fuel fil­ter, tim­ing belt or ra­di­a­tor.

An elec­tric mo­tor has hardly any parts that wear out or re­quire pe­ri­odic re­place­ment or even ba­sic main­te­nance. If you look around your home and con­sider the ceil­ing fan as an ex­am­ple, you will re­alise how its mo­tor goes on and on with no care re­quired.

There are other parts which still re­quire main­te­nance, though. Th­ese in­clude the elec­tric car’s brakes, tyres, sus­pen­sion, steer­ing sys­tem and, less cru­cially, the body­work and cabin. The elec­tric mo­tor, on the other hand, will eas­ily out­last the rest of the elec­tric car.

Can you tell me the dif­fer­ence be­tween an elec­tric car, a hy­brid and a plug-in hy­brid?

A hy­brid de­scribes a car that runs on two power sources – most com­monly, a petrol or diesel en­gine paired with an elec­tric mo­tor. The mo­tor gets its power from on­board bat­ter­ies that are charged when the car is on fuel mode, brak­ing or coast­ing.

A plug-in hy­brid is a hy­brid car, ex­cept that its bat­ter­ies can also be charged via an elec­tri­cal out­let. This makes it even more ef­fi­cient as it does not de­pend solely on the com­bus­tion en­gine or brak­ing to charge up.

An elec­tric car is a plug-in ve­hi­cle, ex­cept that it does not have a com­bus­tion en­gine. Its bat­ter­ies are charged via an ex­ter­nal power socket.

How­ever, there are some elec­tric cars that are equipped with a range ex­ten­der, in the form of a small com­bus­tion en­gine that gen­er­ates power to charge drained bat­ter­ies. This range-ex­tend­ing en­gine is not con­nected to the wheels, which are driven solely by elec­tric mo­tors.

One full charge is usu­ally enough for three to four days of nor­mal driv­ing in Sin­ga­pore.

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