The Battle of the Fuel Efficient Vehicles! (Part 1)


I recently wrote about how to decipher the cryptic language of the electric vehicle world, what MPGe really means and the difference between electric and hybrid vehicles.  My first test drive was with the iMIEV.  The iMIEV is a total electric vehicle, and takes a bit of getting used to.  The first difference comes in starting the vehicle, there are no audible engine noises so the only way you know that the vehicle is on is because the “READY” sign shows on the dash.

The interior is roomy, even though I am not the largest guy, I didn’t feel cramped at all. The next myth about electric vehicles is that they are slow and lack pick up.  The iMIEV actually has a surprisingly peppy feel.  You have an option of operating the vehicle in Drive (D) which will give you a faster take off and better performance, but it will drain your battery quicker.  The next driving option is ECO, which will limit your vehicle’s take off and performance but will increase the mileage range and the battery life.  The last option is Braking Regeneration (B), with this option you regenerate the battery while braking and going down hill.

I wasn’t aware of all the options so I drove home in Drive.  I wanted to test the performance of the vehicle so I took it up to about 60 or so.  Surprisingly the vehicle responded well, but I wouldn’t suggest going much faster than that because the vehicle is not built for performance. The body roll is definitely noticeable.  As I was on the highway, I noticed that the power gauge dropping quickly so I cut off the radio.  Then I noticed the ECO gear option and shifted into that gear.  Once in ECO, I noticed the considerable lack of power but did notice the increased conservation of energy.  I knew that there was a charging station at a nearby Walgreen’s, so I took the vehicle there to charge the iMIEV up.  The charging station is a pay station and only accepts pay pass (a wireless way to pay without having to swipe your card, you just simply tap the card on the device.) You can also pay with Google Wallet, I guess a sophisticated vehicle deserves a sophisticated way to charge and pay for it.  I wasn’t aware of the pay options, so I couldn’t use the station, instead I took the charger out of the trunk, attached an extension cord and charged it from a wall socket at my house.

Neighbors were impressed by the technology, everyone had the same question, “Where do you put gas in?”  They were amazed when I told them it was a total electric vehicle.  There next question was, how much did it cost.  Most were amazed by the price.  I drove the ES model which comes with power windows and locks, CD player, AM/FM radio and a few other bells and whistles, but nothing too extreme.  The more dressed up model is the SE, which comes slightly better equipped.  The ES model which I had has an MSRP of approximately $30,000.00, but if you factor in the technology of the electric engine and the savings you’ll receive from fuel cost… sort of evens out.

My return trip was a little eventful, because I didn’t drive the vehicle properly I used too much power and the charger that I had needed 22 hours for a full charge.  I left it charging all night but was only able to get almost a 3/4 charge.  I was driving into work and was using the wipers the lights and the radio.  I saw the battery drain once more and became a little concerned because the charge was nearing empty.  I started using the Braking Regeneration gear to conserve power and slipped into work with an almost dead battery.

My thoughts on the iMIEV, it is great for individuals who use it as a second car.  You also have to have a very short commute, and be conservative in regards to acceleration. Your driving habits effect your mileage range so you have to be cognizant of this fact.  You have to do research in regards to the purchase of the iMIEV.  Are there charging stations in your neighborhood?  Can you afford to install the super charger if you have a house, or does your complex have a charging station if you live in an apartment.  Another question you must ask yourself, what are electrical costs in your area, if it is a high rate, you might be just as bad off as you are if you had a gas vehicle.  In the end, the iMIEV and any total electric vehicle for that matter is not just a purchase but a lifestyle change.  You have to be knowledgeable about the purchase and care of the vehicle, you also have to be willing to be inconvenienced at times. Not all cities cater to electric vehicles, so you might have to hunt for charging stations.  There are apps for iPhones and Androids such as MOBI.e and CarStations that locate charging stations and use peer reviews to update location information.  If I would have known this I might have been better prepared.  The purchase of an electric vehicle can not be an impulsive one, it needs to be an educate planned purchase and a life style change.  I know most people would say why would they invest all that time and energy into the ownership of a vehicle, but if you are a person who is eco-conscious and feel strongly about using alternative fuel sources and sustaining our environment, then it is well worth the hassle.  Inconvenience doesn’t matter when you are standing up for something you believe in.  Although I hate to admit it, I had my save the planet moment while in college in Portland, OR.  The people there were so eco-conscious they made me feel guilty.  When I moved into my house I set my card board boxes out at the curb only to receive a nasty note from my garbage man imploring me to recycle.  Being a Southern California native, this was unheard of.  I slowly came around, even to the point where I purchased a bike and pedaled to work rather than burn gas.  Alternative means of transportation and fuel sources require a total lifestyle change!  So get out there and get charged up!

Kings Car Guy

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