A QUANTUM LEAP in EV adoption is closer than ever – and the car that would accelerate the big breakthrough for electric vehicles is revealed today.
To celebrate World EV Day, experts at Autovia – the motoring content hub which includes Auto Express, DrivingElectric, Carbuyer, Carthrottle and evo – have revealed ‘The EV-21, a concept car that ticks every motorist’s box.
The Autovia EV-21 is a hypothetical battery electric vehicle that blends the best qualities of today’s existing EVs in one car, to prove that the EV breakthrough is already within reach.
Performance, practicality and affordability will be essential qualities to win over hard-nosed motorists to any new model – especially when it’s an electric car. But Autovia’s specialists say that all essential mass market breakthrough qualities have been achieved across the rapidly expanding range of EVs already on Britain’s roads.
Now the challenge for designers and engineers is to combine enough existing ‘best in class’ EV features to create a car that inspires even the most reluctant adopters to take the plunge.
To illustrate how close the EV industry already is to mass motoring adoption Autovia has unveiled The EV-21 – based on existing cars from MG, Lexus, Audi, Porsche, Citroen, BMW, Honda, Mercedes, MINI and Vauxhall.
Every feature of the hypothetical ‘Autovia EV-21 is based on motorist opinion captured in Autovia’s annual Driver Power survey of car ownership experience, data on the interests and priorities of millions of readers of Auto Express and the specialist DrivingElectric website – plus the expert opinions of the company’s own specialist writers.
Autovia Editor-in-Chief, Steve Fowler, said: “Revealing our own perfect electric vehicle by combining the very best of existing EVs into one hypothetical car is the best way to illustrate that the final breakthrough for EVs is closer than many people realise.
“We considered every aspect that people love about the best EVs in today’s market, from price or running costs, through charging speed and range, to practicality, comfort and the type of technological gizmos in the car.
“It reveals that most of the perceived problems that hold people back from taking the plunge with an EV have already been solved and that the next step is to unify all of those solutions in the next generation of EVs.
“We are confident that this will happen sooner than many people believe and our imagined perfect EV will not remain hypothetical for very long.”
THE PERFECT EV IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK – BACKGROUND
The ‘perfect electric car’ can tip the balance to mass EV adoption
What would it take to make you buy an electric car? Autovia, publisher of Auto Express, has crunched the numbers and created an EV perfectly tuned to make UK car buyers take the plunge
The switch to electric motoring is happening faster than many people expected. Generous government incentives for private and business motorists together with car makers keen to push EVs to lower their average CO2 figures, plus an increased number of new electric cars on offer has accelerated interest among consumers.
Autovia’s portfolio of businesses give a unique insight into how consumers are reacting to the electric car revolution. Data from searches on the DrivingElectric.com, AutoExpress.co.uk and Carbuyer.co.uk websites shows in real time how drivers are researching their next purchase, while the long-established online used car retailer BuyaCar.co.uk has unique insight into the hearts and minds of second hand car buyers.
To give extra granularity and insight, Autovia’s Driver Power survey is the biggest of its kind in the UK and uses data from 38,439 respondents to gauge attitudes and opinions about crucial motoring matters.
This data shows a dramatic move away from diesel to electric, with both Auto Express and BuyaCar continuing to track a consistent increase in searches for new and used EVs during 2020 and 2021. In the first quarter of 2021 searches for EVs on BuyaCar.co.uk were up by 40% compared with the first quarter of 2020.
On the Auto Express website, the first three months of 2021 saw a 74% increase in traffic to pages about electric cars while EV specialist site Driving Electric saw total traffic up 20% on 2020 and 43% on 2019.
Meanwhile, survey results from Driver Power show that 7% of adults have already got an electric or hybrid car, with the retired and London-dwellers the most likely owners. However, a massive 30% said they’re considering an electric car for their next vehicle.
This shift will be fuelled by the continuing fall in list prices and the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles, which will bring them closer to parity with conventionally-engined cars within the next few years.
INTRODUCING THE AUTOVIA EV-21
To highlight the trends, Autovia has used data from site searches and our expertise in testing hundreds of electric cars to create the ‘perfect’ EV. Using the best aspects of all the models currently on sale, a car like this would create even more demand from consumers and lead to widespread acceptance.
Some of the features will take a few more years before they are affordable or practical, but there are others which could be easily implemented right now by makers, dealers and distributors who wish to harness the demand.
Price and service cost – MG’s models have always offered value for money, but there are two cost saving initiatives which really stand out.
First, the new long range MG5 EV can go 250 miles between charges according to the official figures, but prices start at £26,495 after the plug-in car grant has been deducted. That gives it a £ per mile range of £105.98 – the lowest of any EV currently on sale.
The second MG bargain is dealer maintenance; the company’s official service plans cost just £6 per month for electric cars covering up to 10,000 miles every year. That’s £72 a year – less than the cost of the AA breakdown cover which is included as part of the package.
Warranty – The Lexus UX300e is a small electric SUV that stands out here for its hugely impressive warranty. Lexus and Toyota models are available with the Relax package, which extends the standard three-year cover to 10 years or 100,000 miles as long as the car is serviced at an official dealer.
Our Driver Power research suggests you won’t be using it much though, as Lexus consistently finishes in the top five makes for reliability.
Charging speed – Critics of electric cars will inevitably point out that they are not as convenient on a longer journey when you need to stop and charge.
The answer is the Audi e-tron GT, and the mechanically identical Porsche Taycan. They both use 800v electrical systems, which allows them to take on power much faster than other electric cars, without overheating.
Find one of the new high power rapid chargers which are appearing at motorway service stations and the Audi will take on enough energy in five minutes to get you 60 miles.
Practicality – If you need to carry stuff – whether it’s people or luggage – then no electric car offers more practicality than the Citroen e-Berlingo. Its boxy van origins mean it can carry seven people, or fold all the seats away for 4,000 litres of space. To put that into perspective, a Volvo V90 offers 1,526 litres.
It’s not just the boot which is big – there are storage areas and cubby holes around the cabin which add another 167 litres to the total – that’s only four less than the entire boot capacity of a Honda e.
Interior – It might have been around since 2013, but the BMW i3 was so far ahead of its time that we still can’t think of an electric car which has a better interior. The inside of the i3 is beautifully designed to combine technology and natural materials, with options which include light-coloured woods and fabrics made from plant fibres. It’s also spacious and comfortable, and built as well as you’d expect a BMW to be.
Its design has clearly been the inspiration for other electric cars since (the VW ID.3, for example) but we think the original is still the best.
Ride comfort – The weight of batteries in EVs sometimes means the suspension has to be tuned to be stiffer, making the ride uncomfortably crashy on Britain’s broken road surfaces. The problem is often compounded by low-profile tyres which can’t absorb bumps as effectively.
There are a few electric cars which have pleasantly surprised us by bucking the trend, with the MG5 EV at one end of the scale and the Mercedes EQS at the other. But the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (wearing the smaller 19 or 20-inch wheels) donates its ride comfort to our dream EV.
Range – For drivers who are new to electric cars, having a long range is the ultimate luxury. It means you’ll be able to take you on bigger road trips without having to stop, or allow you to go for days of normal commuting without having to plug in.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s the super luxurious Mercedes EQS which is the new benchmark for electric car range, as it’s capable of going 479 miles between charges. That’s more than the distance by road from London to Glasgow.
Best gadgets – If you are a gadget fan, there are plenty of electric cars which pack plenty of genuinely useful tech. Others have fun gizmos which you’ll want to show off to your mates. But only the Honda e has them all, stuffed into an affordable package.
There are rear view cameras to replace the mirrors, a three-pin plug socket to power devices and, in the multitude of screens which stretch across the dashboard, there’s even a virtual aquarium. It’s another tank you won’t have to top up in the oh-so-cute Honda.
Cheapest to run – While the list price of electric cars can seem steep compared to their petrol equivalents, sit down with a calculator and you could find the total cost of ownership will swing the financials back in the favour of battery power.
Vauxhall is helping to tip the balance further towards electric ownership with its Corsa-e offer. It includes a free British Gas home charging point and credit to your electricity account which will be enough for 30,000 miles’ worth of free driving.
Performance – Petrolheads won’t like it, but the massive-engined supercars which have been the traditional bedroom wall poster fodder for generations are being replaced – by an electric car.
The £2m Rimac Nevera has figures that make petrol-engined hypercars look weedy with 1,914bhp from four electric motors, a sub-two second 0-60 time and a 254mph top speed. This might seem irrelevant in the modern world, but the tech will soon filter down to the cars we drive every day.
Handling – Porsche fans tend to get very upset whenever the company embraces the future, whether it’s a move to water cooling for engines or building SUVs. But even the most hard-nosed fans are won over because the cars still drive like a Porsche.
The move to electric might be the biggest change in the company’s history, but somehow the engineers have baked that same ‘Porsche feel’ into the all-electric Taycan. It handles beautifully and is somehow even more thrilling to drive than the petrol-powered models.
Fun – Every driver knows they are going to have fun as soon as they slip into the driver’s seat of a MINI, whether it’s the original from 1959 or the very latest model. The electric version is no exception – in fact we reckon it could actually be the most fun of them all.
The instant power delivery from the punchy electric motor means it darts around corners, while the low centre of gravity – a result of the low-slung batteries beneath the floor – mean it feels more stable through bends too. As a result, you’ll rarely get out of a MINI Electric without a grin.