A few weeks ago, I attended Electrify Expo, a local convention where consumers, savvy or not, can experience the hottest electric vehicles on the market and ask their hottest questions to industry leaders. The two-day event here in New York was filled with famous automakers, such as Toyota, Kia and BMW, and some more exotic ones, such as Polestar, Lucid and Aptera.
As admitted a gas consumer owner – and someone who writes for a publication covering everything related to technology and innovation – I had a lot to ask for. After a weekend where I demystified my preconceived notion of electric vehicles and hit the road with a couple of market-ready cars, here are my key points.
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1. Car manufacturers are patient with us.
Electric cars may seem like the future – and they really are – but those built for modern times remind me more of traditional vehicles than anything else. This balance of innovation and familiarity is quite common, and carmakers have taken drastic measures to reassure owners of gasoline cars that the electric vehicle experience isn’t as radical as they might think.
Take Dodge’s new all-electric charger for example. By integrating false engine sounds via the car’s external speakers, muscle car enthusiasts who live and die from the snarl of exhaust pipes (and can’t stand the silence of electric vehicles) can rejoice and hopefully make the leap towards clean energy.
Aside from the relentless belief that single-pedal driving and touch-screen climate control are the way of the future, most of my early driving experiences with the Kia EV6, Polestar 2 and Volvo XC40 Recharge felt intimate and familiar. The steering wheels could have a little more glare and the shift levers don’t look …gear shift like conventional ones. But once I sat down and started driving, everything felt as usual and not as far as I expected. Are car manufacturers simply ushering us into a new era of automobiles?
Also: An electrifying weekend with the Polestar 2
2. Charging times are faster than that of your phone.
Before Electrify Expo, I thought that charging, for both speed and accessibility, was a major setback when switching to an electric vehicle. So you can imagine the expression on my face when the Kia rep pulled out his paper and read that the EV6 only needed an 18 minute charge to go from 10% to 80%. This is with any DC fast charger, including those supplied by the hundreds of Electrify America stations nationwide. My smartphone can’t even charge that fast.
Then, of course, there’s home charging, which delivers the same electron energy at a slower, more controlled rate. So if you’ve heard stories of electric vehicles taking hours to charge, they may just be taking the numbers out of context.
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3. ‘Zero to sixty’ is hilarious, heartbreaking and impractical.
At one point during my Polestar 2 test drive, I was told to pull over to the side of the road. But instead of asking for my driver’s license and registration, my car driver suggested that I press the pedal and fly the vehicle. And so I did. My head quickly moved back as the Polestar, with its near-silent acoustics, sped through the New York City winds. It was a short lived but exhilarating experience.
Of all the reasons I was introduced to “make the switch” that day, the vehicle’s pavement was highly anticipated and the least convincing. It’s a flashy feature that often makes its way into electric vehicle ads, posters, and marketing campaigns; how cars can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in seconds.
But in those three to four seconds, when I saw life flash before my eyes, I asked myself, “What exactly is the reason for this?” I’m not a Formula 1 driver. And I’m certainly not going to one of those Fast & Furious endurance races anytime soon. I asked the same question while driving the car and was greeted with a puzzled laugh. Hey, I didn’t have an idea too.
More: I enjoyed driving the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6. There is only one reason why I can’t buy one
4. Electric scooters and bicycles are also great.
There is one aspect of electric vehicles that I have not yet touched on and that is the sustainability factor. Almost all the manufacturers present, including the one that produces e-scooters and e-bikes, have made it clear that the use of electric helps the environment.
It’s true. By opting for an electric vehicle, you are effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions and, as a result, well-to-wheel emissions. Plus, you don’t have to commit to a full-on electric car to improve the planet; E-scooters and e-bikes are also resourceful alternatives to the standard gas vehicle. My current scooter, for example, the NIU KQI 3 Proit was very useful for short distance trips and the occasional morning commute to work.
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5. I can’t wait to switch to an electric vehicle … but I have to.
As you can probably see, my overall impression of electric vehicles – or, at least, the ones I’ve tested – remains positive. Physically driving the cars has certainly helped open my mind to what’s available when my 2017 Mazda CX-5 needs updating.
But even if I were ready for the switch today, my options would be limited.
My ZDNET colleague Jason Perlow did a great job explaining how global supply chain problems have affected the current state of electric vehicles in his recent report. To sum it up, unless you have months (or up to a year) to spare, expect to pay a lot more than the sticker price for any electric vehicle on the road right now. If you can find your ideal brand, model, and configuration closer to retail, then it might just be your calling to take the EV leap.
I’m curious, do you own an electric vehicle? If not, what is holding you back? Also, if anyone could give me a real-world use case for zero to sixty acceleration, I’d like to know what it is. Comment below.