I’m looking at buying an EV in Ontario, after coming out of a parental leave. I intend to drive the car for a 230 km round trip commute, primarily highway, hoping to work-from-home one day a week. I expect to put 50,000 km on the car per year and to drive the car until it stops working.
We have a shared driveway, limiting our width to 2,200 mm for a tight squeeze. The falcon doors of the Tesla Model X would not open in our parking space. We would pay more for an ethical production line. I do not expect to be able to charge at work.
We have another vehicle for road trips and making space for the kids, so that is not a priority. Cars in most price ranges, new or used, are reasonable up to about $150,000, but we would certainly favour something under $100,000 (taxes & warranty in).
I would welcome suggestions for haggling for warranty coverage, and for that volume and length of driving. Would an AWD versus a 2WD increase the amount of wear-and-tear on the car?
Gentile: I applaud Mike for knowing exactly what he wants and he’s fortunate enough to have a generous budget for his EV. That opens up more options. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to consumer adoption is the price premium you have to pay for going electric, but that’s not a barrier for Mike.
Richardson: But charging might be, since he doesn’t expect to be able to charge his vehicle at work.
Gentile: And that’s another major barrier for consumer adoption. Range anxiety.
Richardson: Mike shouldn’t have any range anxiety though, since he’s very much aware of the distances he actually drives. Most people aren’t. They buy an electric car with a range of 400 km, while in practice they just put 100 km or less on the vehicle each day. They plug it in every night and the EV never drops below a 50 per cent charge, which is a comfort but also very wasteful.
Gentile: You also need to factor in that if you’re driving an electric vehicle at highway speeds, the air conditioning or the heating depletes the battery, too. Better to have more range than not enough.
Richardson: Those make a difference, but not that much of a difference. Turn on the a/c and the radio and maybe the heated seats and you’ll only deplete the total range by 10 or 15 kilometres. It’s the outside cold or heat that’s the real killer. I’ve seen ranges cut in half by 20-below temperatures.
Gentile: I’ve experienced it first-hand driving some electric vehicles, like the Ioniq electric hatchback, in the middle of winter. It has an official range of about 275 km, but driving about 165 kms from Niagara to my home in Toronto’s east end, I found myself white-knuckling it close to the danger zone. I had to turn off the heat to save range. It wasn’t a pleasant ride.
Richardson: This is really only an issue in very cold winter temperatures. EVs can take twice as long to charge when it’s 20-below, too.
Gentile: So having an electric vehicle with a longer range, ideally more than 400 kilometres, would definitely improve Mike’s daily commute. Luckily, more EV options are coming to the market with longer ranges.
Richardson: He needs to be realistic with his dealership expectations, though. There’ll be no haggling for price or warranty.
Gentile: No haggling for anything, unfortunately. Nowadays, dealers are in the driver’s seat, especially with the global semiconductor chip shortage that’s wreaking havoc with new car inventory on dealership lots.
Richardson: Yup – the joke at Tesla stores is that even Elon’s mom doesn’t get a discount. Mind you, I’m not sure she needs a discount.
Gentile: Probably not. But maybe a Tesla Model Y is a good place to start for Mike. It doesn’t have the fancy falcon doors of the Model X so it would fit easily into his driveway.
Richardson: I was thinking the Model Y too. It will fit in his drive (just, at 2,130 mm with the mirrors) and it has AWD, and feels a bit more special than the Model 3. He can plug it in at home every night and will easily have enough charge to drive 500 km in regular weather. Its two trims cost either $70,000 or $84,000 before taxes, so it’s comfortably in his budget.
Gentile: And it has some cool technology like Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving system, which is one of the most impressive on the market. It can switch lanes on its own, it can park itself. It’ll definitely make Mike’s neighbours green with envy.
Richardson: Autopilot is being investigated by the U.S. government, which is concerned it’s too autonomous for most owners and adds a false sense of security. It will also add $10,600 to the Tesla’s price, before taxes. It’s still within budget, but it’s getting up there. If Mike wants a premium EV and he’s patient, I think he may want to wait for the new BMW i4 or the Mercedes EQ, but neither are ready yet, and we certainly can’t recommend something we haven’t driven.
Gentile: And there’s also the Audi Q4 e-tron compact SUV that’s coming to Canada later this year. At around $60,000, it’ll be Audi’s cheapest all-electric vehicle with a range of up to 480 kms for the larger battery with AWD. But we haven’t driven that one yet, either. So, no comment.
Richardson: There’s the “regular” Audi e-tron, which retails for about $85,000, if he can find one, and it has an official range of 357 km. It’s been around a couple of years, so it’s tried and tested. I’ve not heard any complaints about it, in any case.
Gentile: I haven’t either. But I’d stick to the new Audi Q4 e-tron with a longer range for peace of mind. Mike does have the budget for it, anyway. Otherwise, if he is looking for a lower range, he could get into Volvo’s first all-electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge SUV – it has around 335 kms of range. The drive is rock solid: it feels like a gas-powered XC40 and it starts around $64,000.
Richardson: The XC40 is a smaller crossover, but it would fit nicely in Mike’s driveway and has plenty of status appeal and one of the best cabins in the business. It doesn’t drive like a gas-powered car though – it drives like a little rocket. I embarrassed a Porsche Macan GTS driver during my test drive with the electric Volvo.
Gentile: Bet he wasn’t happy! The XC40 Recharge would fit well into Mike’s life if he can manage with the range. If not, go for the Model Y if he wants a Tesla, or wait for the Audi Q4 e-tron to hit Canadian streets later this year, if the semiconductor chip shortage doesn’t delay production.
What car should you buy? Write to Mark and Petrina at firstname.lastname@example.org and use ‘What car’ as part of your subject line. Emails with different subject lines may not be answered.
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