If you follow a little bit of automotive news, you are not without knowing that the electric is in all press releases. The thermal engine, if it will not disappear in the short term, has clearly lead in the wing and, past some reluctance, manufacturers are beginning to evoke an electrification of all their ranges within five years maximum. We are not going to lie: for now, opt for an electric car rather than a petrol model comes with some inconvenience. It is either expensive (Tesla) or not generous enough in autonomy (all except Tesla), not to mention charging stations still not very present in France (if you live in an apartment, you do not necessarily have the choice) and the rickety supply of manufacturers. However, some manufacturers have already taken the fold for several years and already offer interesting solutions if we accept certain constraints and we are ready to put a little more at the time of acquisition (even with the ecological bonus). In addition, for some trips and under certain conditions, the electric is already a must-have.
Tesla Model S
Just get on a Tesla, fasten your seatbelt and ride for a few minutes to find out how much the Elon Musk firm has a head start on the competition. An advantage that can be explained by a design entirely articulated around the electric motorization: where some adapt (eGolf), Tesla started from a blank sheet. This explains for example his choice to install the batteries on the floor, where there is the most space (autonomy of 400 km minimum). As a bonus, American cars are real computers on wheels: they are regularly updated to accommodate / rectify some features and strutting already with the semi-autonomous driving very functional, if not practical, in certain situations.
DRIVING A MODEL S: UNEQUALED HAPPINESS
From the point of view of driving, we swim in happiness: a Model S 100D offers quite unprecedented performance and sports despite its imposing look and its big luxury sedan. Stuck in bitumen (big plus for safety), it boasts clear acceleration and excellent recovery after a turn. Only problem? In the cabin, the finishes – apart from this huge eye-catching screen – betray Tesla’s lack of experience in the matter and contrast with the rest. Of course, keep in mind that a Model S sports a price that is not within the reach of all budgets. While waiting for the Model 3 in France (we still do not know its price elsewhere), it represents today the best of the electric mobility.
The electric feline
Not the most technological of this selection (it has no advanced driving assistance), the Jaguar I-Pace is undoubtedly the one with the most cachet. For its first test on the 100% electric market, the prestigious manufacturer is not mistaken. The I-Pace is intended less for technophiles than for pure car lovers. It is on this point that it makes all the difference. Aesthetically successful with its feline lines, the Jaguar I-Pace is a real joy to take in hand. Offering the freedom to opt for the electric features seen elsewhere (powerful engine braking to recover a little battery) or for a more typical thermal driving, the car is a welcome versatility. A versatility that will allow some of, perhaps, to take the plunge smoothly. Of course, the I-Pace is adorned with exemplary finishes and all we can laugh at this artificial noise which we still seek the usefulness.
The BMW brand
With 100,000 electrified cars sold in 2017 , BMW is far from being outdone in the segment. Besides the sporty and very expensive i8, we find the most affordable i3 in its range. In this case a compact and spacious SUV – even for large size – looking very futuristic and you have probably already crossed our streets. In terms of finishes, we navigate the famous terrain for lovers of the brand: materials inspire confidence and comfort suffers. The BMW i3 also offers a very pleasant and smooth ride, especially with a powerful engine brake. To overcome the autonomy still low, the German firm offers a version with an extension. It revolves around a small petrol engine designed to recharge the battery (it works like a generator). With him, we go from 200 to just over 300 kilometers.
Nissan Leaf Beautiful evolution
The first Leaf was ugly and limited. The second generation erases a lot of these defects, starting with a much more elegant silhouette. The 100% electric sedan of Nissan finally looks like something and the engineers rolled up their sleeves to bring evolutions evensantes to their vehicle. Like other electric cars is the future of automobile, the Leaf is based on a frank acceleration at the start and a hyper-fluid driving. It is distinguished by its e-Pedal technology, offering the possibility of completely avoiding the brake pedal in 90% of situations. As a bonus, there is a ProPILOT option that looks like a somewhat less ersatz of the Tesla Autopilot. Autonomy is rising – about 250 kilometers according to our one-week test – but still not enough to go on vacations free spirit. To be reserved for urban and peri-urban routes.
As we have already mentioned, the Renault ZOE is the smallest of the lot. She looks like a Clio with slightly more rounded shapes. Like the Leaf, the various improvements integrated over the years concern autonomy first. On recent models, it would reach 300 kilometers in actual use. On the model that we rented for three years, when we had 150 kilometers in reserve, we were happy, but little Zoe has made progress since. Note that Renault now offers the possibility of buying the battery. Previously, the rental was taxed. Viewpoint comfort and driving, the ZOE goes to the basics and does what we ask without flinching and never be taken to default (we had only one micro bug in three years). Unlike the others, Renault does not push (yet?) Autonomous driving on its 100% electric car.
The electric car, a good idea …
With awareness of the limited reserves of oil and structural auctioneering of this source of energy, as well as the problem of emissions of CO 2 and climate change, sober cars in carbon is the subject of a strong craze since a few years. Among this type of vehicle, the electric car driven by the electricity fairy is very present, especially in France. This virtually clean car, independent of oil and silent has many assets to seduce.
which requires a lot of improvements
Yet this technology still faces several problems, the most important of which are the production, storage, and distribution of electricity. When these cars are declared zero emissions, they are local programs. Because to power these vehicles, we must first produce electricity. In this case, only renewable electricity can be classified as clean. Most electricity, however, is of fossil or nuclear origin and thus induces emissions of pollutants, CO 2 and the production of nuclear waste. In addition, electricity is difficult to store, which poses a significant problem of autonomy, size and cost to electric cars. Currently, lithium-ion battery technology provides a range of 100 to 200 km for a charging time of half an hour to several hours. Fast chargers and some specialized batteries (SCiB) charge an 80% vehicle in 30 minutes, while a normal household (220 volts ) takes about 8 hours. Although they represent a real improvement over lead-acid batteries , they have a limited life span and require recycling to avoid polluting the environment. In addition, their cost is responsible for the high price of vehicles.
The other difficulty related to the power supply of electric cars is the integration of these vehicles into the electricity distribution network. First, it is necessary to create sufficient infrastructure to cover the territory of charging stations, given the reduced autonomy of these vehicles. Then, the recharging of cars will create an additional demand and massive electricity at certain times (the evening and the night) that the network will have to manage and to satisfy. This will require new capacities for production and distribution organization with intelligent networks (smart grids) likely. In terms of the disadvantages of the electric car, we can add speed, generally lower than that of thermal cars even if there are electric models with the impressive performance. For some, finally, the absence of noise is a further fault because it could represent a danger for pedestrians and cyclists.
2018 ELECTRIC AND HYBRID CAR GUIDE
The consumer craze for electric and hybrid cars confirms a strong trend in the industry. These models make headlines at auto shows, new models continue to be announced and manufacturers who are slow to join the game are often singled out. We have released our first Electric and Hybrid Car Guide in the summer of 2017 and many of you are still reading it every day. At the rate things are going, we do not want to waste time, so here you will find an up-to-date portrait of the models available on the Canadian market in 2018. (We also have a 2018 Hybrid SUV Guide .) Once again, you’ll find the important numbers to remember (including the base price), links to our latest data sheets and/or road tests, as well as photos and videos. Let us also remember that the governments of Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia offer discounts on the purchase or rental of an electric car, so check their respective website to find out how much you will actually pay.
The compact A3 Sportback e-Tron ($ 40,900) is based on the 1.4-liter TFSI engine and generates a total output of 204 horsepower. It consumes 6.9 L / 100 km in hybrid mode and, of course, it can run in 100% electric mode over short distances.
A new generation of the 369-hp BMW i8 will hit the market in the spring for the 2019 model year. This large sports car is not for any hybrid car buyer; it’s more of a way to get a better performance. The i8 will also be available in a convertible for the first time. The BMW range also includes the 330th ($ 51,500 ), 530th ($ 67,500) and 740Le ($ 110,400) sedans as well as the X5 xDrive40e utility ($ 74,950 ).
The new generation of the Volt ($ 38,995) offers a more attractive design and greater electric autonomy, that is 85 kilometers. GM describes it as an electric car because its gasoline engine is used exclusively to charge the battery and not to drive the front wheels, but it’s really a plug-in hybrid that can travel hundreds of miles.
The Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid ($ 51,095) is a minivan acclaimed for its 53-kilometer electric range and average fuel economy of 2.8 Le / 100 km. We tried it on a trip to Maine and were impressed.
The C-MAX Energi, a compact hatchback, is no longer available in Canada this year. However, Ford still sells the Fusion Energi ($ 35,088), a comfortable sedan that can travel 35 kilometers without burning gasoline. Its average yield is 2.4 Le / 100 km.
The all-new 212 horsepower Clarity Plug-in Hybrid ($ 39,900) has arrived in Canada and sets it apart from other sedans in its class with 76-kilometer range. It’s as spacious as an Accord and packed with technology. Only the design could make potential buyers hesitate …
The Rechargeable Hybrid Sonata gets upgrades for 2018 and will arrive in the summer, but its price is not yet announced at the time of writing. It is a little more powerful (202 horsepower) than the basic hybrid Sonata thanks to a 50-kilowatt electric motor and its 9.8 kWh battery gives it an electric autonomy of about 43 kilometers (about 950 kilometers in total). Another Hyundai Rechargeable Hybrid is the new IONIQ Electric Plus ($ 31,999 ). Its autonomy data are slightly better and our test drive in winter has demonstrated its effectiveness.