TTAC has borrowed EVs in the past. Nissan even let us snag a Leaf for a week. Since then, I’ve driven every EV on the market except the Model S. (Not for a lack of half-trying, I call Tesla HQ regularly, but am too lazy to visit a Tesla dealer.) Every time I’ve had an EV, the conversation is more about living with the EV than the car itself. This time we’re doing something different. When the review of the spunky little orange Fiat 500e (I’ve decided to name her “Zippy Zappy”) hits in a few weeks, it will be 100% about the car and 0% about EV trials and tribulations. That divorced conversation is happening this week in daily installments.
EV tech is evolving rapidly from every angle, which is why we’re taking a look at it in this way. When the Tesla Roadster came on the scene it was the first real EV you could buy in ages, but the lacking of a standard charging connector, two seats and a steep price tag limited its commercial viability. Next up we had the Leaf which sported the new J1772 standard charging connector and the first DC quick-charge connector in the USA. Sadly there were zero quick charge stations in America when we last Leafed. Just a year into Nissan’s grand experiment there were significant updates to the Leaf and thanks to California’s zero-emissions mandate we have an EV explosion with just about everyone hopping on the eBandwagon. Are they ready for prime time?
The 500e is the most efficient EV on the market. That’s not just because it’s one of the smallest EVs available, but also because technology in this field is moving rapidly. The 500e’s motor, batteries, charger systems, etc are all the latest in design and that is what pushes the little Italian to the head of the pack. [Edit: my apologies, the Scion iQ EV is now the most efficient EV, but the 500e is very close] Even so the 500e is capable of only 80-100 miles depending on your driving style, the climate and your Range Anxiety. I suffer from RA pretty badly so my first day in the 500e I drove home with the cruise control set to 64 on the freeway and used my most efficient (and most level) shortcuts possible. Leaving work at 93% full (thanks to not being delivered at 100%) I stopped at the grocery store 41 miles later having consumed 55% of my battery thanks to climbing a 2,200ft mountain pass at freeway speeds. Range estimate: 75 miles, not too shabby and better than the Leaf on the same journey. 10 miles later my EV told me it would take 15 hours to recharge to 100% using the 110V “emergency” charger. I thought about heading to the beach 12-miles away since the weather was amazing but my RA kept me at home where I looked at pictures of the beach on my laptop. What will tomorrow bring?
Looking for the other installments? Here you go: