We use the Bolt for all of our non-ski trips; we do several trips over 350 miles each month; and we did a 1200-mile trip to see the eclipse in Oregon. Even these longer distance trips are no problem for the Bolt.
In fact, we're so convinced about electric, that we don't want to drive anything else. We've been waiting for something to replace the Audi. Sure, there's the Tesla Model X, but aside from the fact that I don't like the looks, and don't see it as matching our outdoorsy lifestyle, I really don't like the price.
So when Audi announced their upcoming e-Tron Quattro, we were intrigued. We put in a placeholder deposit, hoping to get our hands on one before fully committing.
Audi generously invited us to their gala announcement in San Francisco, but since we were planning to be in France, we gave the tickets to some friends who are now thinking about electric.
But, being in France, we had the opportunity to go to the Paris Auto Show. So, in addition to being able to see the Audi e-Tron, we also were able to get a look at many of the new electric models and concept cars from manufacturers around the world.
Noticeably absent were GM, VW (and their upcoming ID line of electric vehicles), and Volvo (with their XC40 SUV). And while Porsche was there, we were very disappointed not to be able to see their Mission E Cross Turismo, complete with drone. Watch for it in the video!
Our goal was to determine if there was something better than the Audi that might be worth waiting for.
But before getting into practical EVs that we'll see in the next year or two, I have to say the concepts were remarkable.
Most futuristic at the show was Renault. While known for their compact Zoe EV, Renault clearly has some interesting ideas:
Of course there were supercar concepts too:
Of these, as far as I know, only the Audi has actually seen the light of day. Range is 310 miles, 95kWh battery with 350kW charging capability and 0-60 in just over 2 seconds.
Practical (soon-to-be-available) EVs
Hyundai showed off their new Kona. It brags over 290 miles of range with fast charging up to 100 kW. It reminded us of our Bolt in terms of shape and interior, but it does come with a very nice Nav system (which we really miss on the Bolt).
Kia had several of their new Niro EVs on display. They apparently share much of Hyundai's technology and while there are differences in styling and the interiors, the capabilities of the cars and their batteries are almost identical.
We also looked at the new Renault Zoe with its 40 kWh battery, a dramatic improvement over the 25 kWh battery sold until recently. It's the most popular EV in Europe and Renault has sold about 100,000 of them. Interestingly, several of the models on display had advertisements for driving services in Paris. One even offered rentals of the Zoe. We'd looking forward to being able to rent an electric car on future trips to Europe. Still, the Zoe's 150-mile range doesn't compare to the Bolt, Niro, or Kona. It's max charging rate is 44 kW and that only occurs in a very narrow window of its SOC (State of Charge) - up to about 45% charge. After that it quickly drops off to 20 kW. Still, at about 20,000 euros fully loaded, it's a great first EV.
Other than the picture below and a quick look at the specs, we didn't spend any time with Mercedes' Smart ForTwo. With a range of just 58 miles and a price over $25,000, it just doesn't seem worth it. But they were kind of cute, it comes in a Cabriolet model (the only EV convertible I know of), and I heard a comment that the Smart ForTwo has the best turning radius of any car on the market. So, it's very easy to park. We'll pass.
Ultimately, we went to the Paris Auto Show to check out all-wheel drive vehicles that could get us to the snow (and back), replacing our Audi Allroad, so we could be 100% electric.
The contenders we wanted to check out were:
- Mercedes EQC - Range ~250 miles, fast charging at 110 kW, L2 at 7.6 kW
- BMW iX3 - Range ~250 miles, fast charging at 150 kW, L2 at 7.6 kW? or better?
- Jaguar I-Pace - Range ~220 miles, fast charging at 100 kW, L2 at 7 kW
- Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo - Range ~300 miles, fast charging at 350 kW, L2 at 22 kW
- Audi e-Tron - Range ~250 miles, fast charging at 150 kW, L2 at 11 kW (22 kW in Europe)
All of the cars have sophisticated battery management systems which will preserve battery life and which should help with charging rates in low temperatures. Audi claims theirs is the best, but we'll know more when the cars are actually on the road in the snow.
Karen loved the seats. She thought they were the most comfortable of any car she'd ever been in. For me, the cockpit was a bit claustrophobic. It didn't feel open and spacious and the tech was a bit run-of-the-mill. Its exterior was nothing special. The EQC also felt big - like a full-sized SUV. But looking at its actual dimensions, it's not much bigger than its competition. Unfortunately, as experienced distance travelers in an EV, the lower charge rates are a concern. Still, it may be worth a test drive to check out the handling.
I think we were most disappointed by the BMW iX3. It was set aside from the other BMWs and was not accessible to visitors. I asked several questions and was told that in two years the car would have the latest - the latest fast charging, the latest battery management, the latest range estimates. In other words, the salespeople had no idea about the specifications. I suspect they were focused on the new 3-series models which had a lot of interest, and just weren't prepared to talk about EVs. It's unlikely we'll look any further at BMW EVs.
Jaguar had several i-Paces on display, some in dramatic colors. The car looks impressive. The only real negatives were the room in the back seat, and the less than state-of-the-art charging speeds. Jaguar is offering test drives of the i-Pace in southern France next week, so with luck, we'll get to try one out. I'll update this blog if we do.
Porsche Mission E Turismo
I have to say that we're completely intrigued by the Mission E Turismo. From all reports, there will be a 2019 model and after seeing the video and looking at the specs, it might be worth waiting for. We spoke with the Porsche rep and he explained that since they showed it at a previous show, they didn't have it in Paris. He had no updates on availability. We'll have to wait and see, but this seems to be a dream car, even if it doesn't actually ship with the drone (see the video).
The Audi e-Tron was the main reason we detoured to the Paris Auto Show. It did not disappoint!
The interior was impressive as was the tech. I loved the Nav and the fact that I could get a full Nav screen with directions right in front of me as the driver. There's even a supplemental screen where you can hand-write commands with your finger. The backseat was spacious though since they added a control panel for climate, the seating in the middle is limited. 5 passengers will only fit if the one in the middle is either small, or ready to straddle the console. Aside from that and the fact that it is unlikely that you can fit a spare tire in the back, the car is amazing. The European model has cameras instead of side-view mirrors. Not sure if that will get approved in the States before its launch. The interior is roomy, but the car feels more sleek than its competitors (except, perhaps, for the elusive Porsche). It has variable air suspension that adapts based on speed and even has charging ports on both sides of the car (fast charging on the driver side). Coefficient of drag is second only to the Tesla Model S. Like many of the earlier Audis, you can drop the middle of the back seat to slip your skis through.
Cassandra Crawford from Steven's Creek Audi tells us we'll see the e-Tron by April. In Europe, dealers will be getting theirs in January and first deliveries will start in February. While we wait, we'll check out the alternatives. But at this point, unless Porsche announces a 2019 delivery of the Mission E Cross Turismo at a reasonable price or one of the others surprises us, we'll enthusiastically lease the Audi e-Tron.