Let’s rock down to electric avenue

Blog post posted on 18/09/20 |

Barry Sloan is publicity officer for Bolton and District Advanced Motorists. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, group was planning an all-electric car show to mark this milestone. Here, Barry talks about his first experience of an all-electric vehicle, bringing the car to the people through the blog, until the people can come to the cars at an event, now planned for 2021.  

Bolton and District Advanced Motorists wanted to check out an electric car, to understand whether it’s possible to still follow our IPSGA driving system - Information, Position Speed, Gear and Acceleration - in the type of cars we may all be driving soon.

When we contacted our local Bolton Kia showroom and told them what we had in mind, they could not have been more helpful. Kia Geniuses know every detail of the model range and are there to answer any questions you might have and I met Kia Genius, Jack McKnight.  

I was to drive was the new Kia e-Niro ‘3’ with a 64KWh battery pack, with a Worldwide Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) range of 282 miles, that gives an impressive 4.1 miles per KWh and I couldn’t wait to see what all this new technology was actually like out on the road.  

Jack went through the start-up routine and made sure I knew exactly where the brake was.  Electric vehicles don’t have a clutch pedal and operate as automatic vehicles. I pressed the start button letting the car power up and perform a system check, to make sure everything is in working order, then with a full battery pack showing there were 280 miles available, POWDERY checks completed and cockpit drill performed, we were ready.

The car does not have a conventional gear lever or automatic gear shift, just D, N and R dial with a centre button labelled P. Turning the dial to D, you hear the acoustic generator start its low level whine to alert those around that the car might be moving, rather than a silent start. A slight touch on the accelerator and we’re off. At anything over five mph it’s silent in the car. You do get tyre noise coming in at around 20 mph, but that’s all.

The car accelerated swiftly up to the legal limit of 40 mph on the dual carriageway. The 64 KWh battery pack under the floor gives it a very low centre of gravity, so it feels very sure-footed. Heading onto the northbound M61, it easily reached 65 mph to join lane one.

Using all the elements of IPSGA (except gears) we were soon keeping up with other traffic and settling into the drive, constantly referring mentally to our dynamic driving plan.

The car has four levels to regeneration. Level two is normal and very similar in feel to a standard petrol engine car in slowing when your foot is off the accelerator. Using the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel you can manually adjust the amount of regen. Leaving the motorway I selected level four, maximum regeneration. It doesn’t take long to get used to how you can regulate the speed easily using acceleration sense. In fact, I only had to use the brake pedal once in the series of roundabouts around Chorley town centre. And yes, the brake lights do come on using regen to let following traffic know you are slowing.

Heading onto 30 mph and 40 mph roads, again using level four regen, it was into Adlington, no brakes needed. The road becomes 50 mph, achieved easily and in near silence. Back to its Bolton Kia home, the average miles per KWh were 4.7 Miles/KWh. If I could keep that average up, then a range of 300 miles would be easily available.

I know there are drawbacks. If you are running on empty, it will take around nine hours to fully charge using a seven KWh charger. But how often do you run your petrol tank on empty? And can you refill your petrol tank at home using cheap petrol overnight?  I think not. If you live in an apartment or a house with no off-road accessibility, charging might be difficult, but rapid chargers are being installed all over the UK every day.

For Bolton and District Advanced Motorists, this new technology should present no issues. IPSGA will become IPSA (without the gears) plus a couple of other nuances like the electronic handbrake selected by a simple switch next to the gear select. When activated, it holds the car allowing you to take your foot off the brake.  However, as soon as you press the accelerator, the brake is released and the car moves. So it’s important to keep your foot away from the accelerator pedal when stopped.

Regen is a new technology. We need to consider when and how to employ it and consider one pedal driving; it’s already available on cars like the Nissan Leaf.

So, what’s the verdict? Well, it’s a definite thumbs up and I encourage you, if you are in the market for a new car, to go and try it out.  I think you will be surprised and pleased. With a full 7 years, 100,000 mile warranty, it definitely should be on your list to check out.