In a relatively short time, the electric revolution takes off. There’s never been more choice for anyone wanting to make the big switch, although you still have to dig deep to be one of the plug-ins.
No matter how good electric vehicles have become, there remains one big problem and that is the availability in the charging infrastructure. There are not enough public chargers and many of them seem to suffer from technical problems.
I’ve driven many EVs this year and lost count of the times I’ve been frustrated to find a 50kW fast charger available that isn’t already in use or working. In fairness, there seem to be plenty of smaller capacity, empty 22kW units out there, but unless you want or can leave your car plugged in for half a day, they’re pretty much useless.
If you’re going to go all-electric, you’re better off installing a wall charger at home, but for many people in our cities without a dedicated, cable-accessible parking space, that’s a non-starter.
The government has bigger problems to address, but hasn’t made it any easier by scrapping its interest-free electric car loan program for the purchase of new electric vehicles. Here in Scotland we can still access loans to buy a used electric vehicle and grants to install a home charger… if you can park right next to your house and not have to pull a cable on a sidewalk or road.
As for the electric vehicles themselves, one of the most impressive I’ve driven recently is Nissan’s Ariya family crossover SUV.
For starters, it looks pretty good, especially in the ceramic gray paintwork of the featured test car.
The designers have done a great job of coming up with something fresh and sleek while still maintaining the corporate look. Despite all the tech below the surface, the car has a clearly defined Nissan look.
The company led the way in electrification, innovating with its original Leaf compact when the rest of the industry held back. Although it had some downsides with a poor range of less than 100 miles, it showed the potential to go all-electric.
Looks aside, the Ariya is fun to drive and, as a mid-size machine, offers exceptional functionality, refinement and the appeal of electric power in the growing environmentally conscious market.
Like the rest of the plug-in car range, it’s not cheap, costing over £50,000, but it’s competitive with its rivals, although it has a tough fight against the Korean Hyundai Ioniq5 and the Kia’s EV6 and Niro EV. .
It’s about the same size as the conventional X-Trail with two battery options – a 63kWh entry model with 214hp, while the larger 87kWh version of the featured car produces
238 hp. Both are front-wheel drive, with a potential range of between 250 miles and 322 miles on a single charge.
Trim levels are nice and simple with only two choices – Advance and Evolve which were the test car specs. You certainly get what you pay for with a huge amount of equipment in addition to a comprehensive list of safety and comfort features including intelligent cruise control, speed assist, cross traffic alert rear, emergency braking with recognition of pedestrians and cyclists and lane keeping assist.
There are ten Bose speakers, a full 12.3-inch TFT screen, 360-degree monitor with moving object detection, wireless phone charger, LED lights all around, electric panoramic sunroof and a heated front windshield. You may find, however, that if you use all of these, you will drain your energy and significantly reduce your range.
The dash is delightfully clean and simple and the regeneration is very effective, eliminating the need for a lot of braking, adding to the overall smooth and effortless ride…exactly what automotive EV should be.
PRICE: £53,590 (£54,335 as tested)
ENGINE: 87kWh battery electric motor, automatic front-wheel drive
POWER: 238 hp
Performance: top speed 100 mph; 0-62mph 7.6 seconds
RANGE: 322 miles
TOWING CAPACITY: 750 Kgs
CHARGING TIME: 130 kW fast charge – about 30 minutes