Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

The Electric Car is an Irish company distributing the Reva electric car in Ireland. They lent us one to take out for a spin today. The goal of these cars is to provide a single driver with a greener alternative when commuting and this car certainly does that. But can you stomach it for everyday use at the 10,000 euro price tag?

Its a small car, it has two fake seats in the back but to fit two kids in the back you’d need two kids in the front driving.

The car itself is has a very basic set of facilities and I was almost shocked when Olivier mentioned that it had a remote zapper to lock the car. There is only one instrument on the dashboard, the speedometer which goes up to 80 km/h, in a fit of optimism that can only bring a smile to your lips.

So first hiccup was the crazy handbrake which comes out of the floor like a spear. This had obviously been mistreated by previous owners (borrowers?) and was in need of therapy. What it got was more brutal mistreatment, which seemed to do the trick, with much pulling and wrenching we were free. The car drives like an automatic and has two pedals, a brake and a (very light) accelerator pedal. There is a dial above the steering while on the right has a selector for reverse, neutral, forward and Boost. These are as standard on automatic drive cars but Boost is special. Boost gives you extra juice and acts like a turbo-charger,for going up hill or just for going faster. You can use the boost anytime during driving, but is does impact your mileage.

A light in the middle of the dash that warns you when you are draining the battery too much based on driving style (generally stamping on the accelerator) but it can also go green when braking. This is the regenerative braking in action. The green indicates braking activity that is being user to generate electricity to recharge the batteries. This is a key contributor to the drive time you will experience. However it does tend to make braking uneven and very lumpy and bumpy.

The ride in general is firm and you feel all the bumps on the road. This is not a car for country driving. The advertised range on our model with lead acid batteries was 60-80km before  a recharge. This will rise to 120km with the Li-ion batteries. I think realistically you should be planning to do no more than 40km before a recharge. This factors in the use of heaters, lights, indicators etc. that I think may not be included in the range figures given by the company. Remember unlike a petrol driven car, the indicators and lights drain the main power source directly (a petrol car generates electricity for all the internal electrics using an alternator) so they all directly drain the battery.

The main problem with the drive is the tendency to roll during turns. Even a gentle turn at 20km/h and the whole chassis heaves out over the outside wheels in a very distributing way. I can’t help feeling a few anti-roll bars would fix this.

Once the car is out of juice it needs a recharge from a normal domestic plug. They car comes with a short extension flex, which even for an economy car seems unnecessarily cheap, what would another 10 meters of cable cost?

This is the real challenge of the electric car away from home, how do I get charge? For the lead acid batteries the charging time of 12 hours means this has to been done at a location where the car can remain safely plugged.  With the new Li-ion batteries this will be down to 1 hour with the booster pack.

In summary a car for the dedicated green commuter. Its unlikely to convert legions of existing car drivers due to drive quality and price.