CAR OF THE WEEK
BY BRIAN BYRNE
WITH 15 electric car models selling in the Irish market during the first burst of 201 selling, every time I take one for review it’s an occasion to see how the e-cars are doing.
The short answer, even with only two months worth of data, is quite well. Though maybe not as big a move forward compared to the same period last year as might have been expected.
In simple figures, 1,289 units were registered in those two months, compared to 1,124 in the same period in 2019. That brings the market share to 2.86pc, not a great deal ahead of the 2.37pc for January to February last year.
Those in the Irish motor industry say the great leap forward hasn’t happened in the 201 period because the Government has taken away one of the incentive grants from companies. It’s probably just as likely because there is a bit of a transition happening in the market.
Some models were pending battery upgrades, such as Renault’s Zoe. Others hadn’t arrived in time, like the Opel Corsa-e and its cousin Peugeot e-208. I think, like last year, we’ll see a bigger uptick in the 202 registrations.
Depending, of course, on external economic factors like the impact of Covid-19 and the Saudi-Russia oil price war.
Anyway, just for the current record (there’s a shocking pun), Nissan’s Leaf is still the biggest seller here, followed by Hyundai’s Kona, the Tesla Model 3, Hyundai’s Ioniq, and the Kia non-identical twins e-Soul and e-Niro.
The Ioniq is what I was driving recently and which prompted all that. Though they’re advertising it as new, the only major change over the model that appeared in 2017 is the larger battery. Now it has a rated range just a tad over 310kms, a big boost over the earlier version’s 200kms.
And that’s what makes the real difference, because it is well outside the generally-accepted range anxiety that was part and parcel of the first generation electric cars.
There’s little point in me rehashing the detail of why people shouldn’t have such anxiety any more, just to say that electric cars are perfectly viable options for most car owners, if they check out their driving patterns.
Hyundai is now making the strong point that their dealers can answer any of those questions, and that they have the electric, petrol, hybrid or diesel solutions for anyone.
The Ioniq is a familiar style now, restrained compared to some of the brand’s other offerings, which, in fact, can be an appeal to the ordinary family driver. It’s roomy, though no SUV, and there’s a large boot capacity so it makes a good family option.
The interior is a good quality style and finish, with instrumentation that reflects the electric information need but nothing startling. We’re rapidly reaching the point where an electric car is just a car, after all.
The Ioniq doesn’t feel as heavy in handling as did some early electric vehicles. The tonne-and-a-half weight is well masked.
There was a long list of specification with the review car, but most items are what you’ll get in any kind of modern car. The electric-related parts include the regenerative braking levels operated by the paddle shifts, and an indication in the navigation of where the nearest charging points are (which needs to be updated, but I don’t think that’s the carmakers’ fault).
The charging options include 50kW high capacity, so most of the newer motorway service places will have the ‘time for a cup of coffee’ option of a good boost in range. I did it myself.
Buying an electric car still isn’t cheap, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it to drop significantly — any convergence over the next couple of years will be through an increased cost of traditionally-engined cars. That’s already very evident in the price increases this year related to NOx taxation.
In the end, do the maths on usage, buying cost, and how long you’re likely to have the car.
You may be surprised to learn that your more suited option is still a petrol or diesel car.
But the Ioniq is still worth checking out.
What I liked: It’s just a car, after all.
Price: From €34,850.