A few months ago, it was time to get a new car. I visited several car dealers to see what new cars had come on to the market. Taking my family with me, meant that making a decision was not easy. My husband loves fast cars, my twelve year old daughter Maja is a fan of stylish cars and SUVs, and my son Leonard adores expensive cars, such as Lamborghini and Ferrari. We spent quite a bit of time at car dealers, on the Internet and doing the math afterwards. At first, I thought that life without a convertible was not an option, my previous car was my first one and a dream come true. Nothing beats the feeling of enjoying the fresh air and the sun while driving.
Do I really want to be innovative?
As I studied the incentives from SAP and the German government when ordering a battery electric vehicle (BEV), I began to think about driving one. My first question was: Are any electric convertibles available on the market? The answer was no. Not even a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) was available as a convertible.
My husband convinced me to try it and the dealer provided us with an electric car to test over the weekend. This put me in a tricky position. Should I do something good for the environment and my children? I had heard about the limited battery life and could just picture me standing on the hard shoulder of the motorway with an empty battery and desperate kids. Would I lose my flexibility and freedom? Should I really go for the innovative, environment-friendly, futuristic, adventurous approach or stay in my comfort zone and stick to what I know?
In the end, courage won. And if it does turn out to be a mistake, it’s only for two years.
What is my verdict after 2 months?
I drive to the SAP office in Walldorf about 30 km away from my home three times a week. During my working hours, I can fully charge my car in 3,5 hours and I have a reserved parking space very close to my office. My BMW app shows me both the charging progress and time at which it will finish.
At SAP in Germany, we currently have 204 charging stations for 1.100 EVs, these include 180 battery-only EVs and 920 plug-in hybrids. Since 2016, SAP’s electrical car drivers have charged their cars 51.000 times with a total of 370 MWh of energy charged. With a fully loaded battery, I can drive approximately 180km. This is sufficient to take my kids to their activities, go shopping or other short-distance trips. Since we are a two-car family, this works well, as we still have a “normal” car for longer trips.
I need to plan longer trips carefully. My parents live 130 km from me. Since energy consumption on the highway is very high, I need to charge my car when I drive fast. Unfortunately, charging stations in the countryside are few and far between. I have at least 4 apps, which help me to find charging stations. To be on the safe side, I even called the owner of the service station to ask whether I could charge my car with my charging card. He didn’t know and connected me to the provider of the station, a major German utility company, who luckily confirmed that I am authorized to use it. When I got there, the charging process was very quick, due to the charging capacity of 50 kW at this charging station. My battery was up to 80% in about half an hour. On this occasion, Iit took me slightly longer to get to my parent’s house, but I was more relaxed due to the break.
What needs to happen to make driving an electric vehicle more appealing?
- Unified billing system and plug for charging station
Right now, there are numerous providers on the market with different systems. This makes it complicated to charge your car because you need lots of different authentication cards. Sometimes you can even charge for free. Charging needs to be unified and simplified and a standardized plug should also be provided.
- Countrywide implementation of charging stations
Availability of charging stations needs to be improved, specifically in the countryside. We need a nationwide concept from the government to make it easier to implement charging stations.
- Free and reserved parking spots
Some cities and stores offer free parking spots for electric vehicles. A big German supermarket offers a parking space in the first row and free energy for EVs. This is now my preferred supermarket, a win-win situation for both parties.
The local electricity provider Stadtwerke Weinheim offers a free charging station in the city center combined with a free parking space while charging your car. A great idea to keep the air clean and to make electromobility more attractive.
4. Improved battery life
I know that there are several models on the market whose battery lasts for 400 km or more. This was also my biggest concern when I ordered my car. If the battery life improves, this will almost certainly increase sales figures for EVs.
Do you know what is really cool? The acceleration of my BEV is the best I have ever experienced. You beat every Porsche at the lights, which my son also loves. Nevertheless, it takes me longer to reach my long-distance destinations. However, this is an ideal city car. It meets all emission standards, it’s silent, small, agile, easy to drive and uses little energy.
I love the modern interior with a light-grey fabric that feels like a couch. The big windows make it really light and spacious. In winter it is already heated when I get in and I don’t waste time scraping the windows. And I have the satisfaction of knowing I am not producing CO² emissions and am doing something good for the environment.
After two months experience: I can confirm that I love my car and feel it is the best decision I could have made.
Read my new blog, published in November 2018