It’s been interesting watching the electric vehicle owners pushing their “dead robot” cars into parking lots in northern states in the U.S. during a deep freeze, down to the nub with zero power in the batteries, searching for charging stations. On the news reports, a few charging stations were working, others were broken.
There were lineups, so drivers sat there freezing in the cold, waiting, not running the heater, to preserve power. One guy on the news talked about his experience, but he was still wearing his Tesla sweatshirt, still positive about his car, an electric vehicle supporter to the very end. It’s all a cluster-fudge, an ongoing example that while EVs are all well and good, the infrastructure that supports them is nowhere near close, and that’s why the masses are tuning out the virtuous, with unsold EVs backing up at dealer car lots. Then there’s the confusion about the cost of a battery replacement when your car ages to a certain point.
But here’s the flip side: The market will sort all this out, eventually. Not by next Thursday. But in 10-20 years. The cars are fantastic, from the 5-6 we have test driven now, and there are more of them coming out. Plus manufacturers are getting aggressive, covering home charger costs, or offering free “fill-ups” at fast-charging stations, as a bonus for buying one.
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We took the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 out for a few days over the Christmas holidays, and here’s what we found. We didn’t have access to a home fast-charging station. Out of four charging stations in the parking lot at the local grocery store (not fast charge, a two-hour charge boosted the battery by around 18 per cent), one didn’t work, and you had to get there early in the a.m. to grab one of the other three before someone else took it.
A fully charged battery for a 165-kilometre (102-mile) drive from Toronto north to Collingwood through the cold had the battery drain to just north of 40 per cent by the time we arrived there. That meant delaying lunch with family for the scramble of finding a fast-charging station, starting with a pathetic, beat-up Ontario government-run Stalinist-quality piece of crap that sat unused in a Tim Horton’s parking lot, which set off a warning on the dash of the Hyundai when I plugged it in and tried to power the battery up.
After a drive-by past a bank of pristine unused battery chargers at the Collingwood Tesla dealership (only Tesla cars allowed here, peasants), we finally found ourselves at a Flo fast charge station at a Canadian Tire parking lot, wind blustering, snow blowing. I downloaded the Flo app and from there all was fine with the world – $20 fee for a charge through the Flo app and the car went from 40 per cent to full charge in 30 minutes or so. And we got home safely.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicle: $62,024
So that was the moral of our story, over the few days that we drove the car. Everything about the Hyundai Ioniq 5 itself was great. The electric vehicle had a 239kW electric motor and 77.4kWh lithium-ion polymer high-voltage battery, with HTRAC All-Wheel Drive, 20-inch Alloy Wheels.
The vehicle came equipped with all the safety features you’ve come to expect – Forward Collision Avoidance-Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclist, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, Highway Driving Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance. The car had Head-Up Display. Our media vehicle came equipped with the Ultimate Package ($5,000), so the total MSRP was $62,024.
The interior was comfortable, spacious, even luxurious for the price point. Everything ran through the 12.3-inch touch-screen navigation system. The front heated and ventilated seats were nice, but again, driving an electric vehicle means being aware of where you are, where you are going, where you can conveniently charge the battery, how fast the charge will take wherever you end up, and how fast the battery will drain in cold weather.
You’re driving by gas stations now, you don’t need to worry about oil changes any longer, so that’s a luxury. If you’re going to buy one of these, get the home fast-charge station, so there’s at least one element of certainty, one part that you can control. You’ll always start your day with a full charge. Then plan from there.