Living with an electric car

Peugeot iOn electric car 電気自動車 elektromobil Elektro-Auto 电动车 электромобиль Словакия 斯洛伐克 Slowakei スロバキア

Driving over the Danube River with electricity – Bratislava, Slovakia

It’s been 10 days since I brought my Peugeot iOn electric car home and this has given me enough time to learn about the technology behind the car, as well its limitations.

Peugeot iOn Citroen C-Zero Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Triplets: the Peugeot iOn, the Citroen C-Zero, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Interestingly, my Peugeot iOn is actually identical to the Citroen C-Zero, which are both actually Mitsubishi i-MiEVs with different badges.
All three cars are all made by Mitsubishi which is actually a good thing, because French car makers aren’t known for their reliability.

When it comes to circuits, motors, and drivetrains I’d rather leave it to the Japanese!

imiev battery fire

The 330 volt i-MiEV battery pack

The car has a 330 volt lithium-ion battery pack which is made up of 88 individual prismatic (rectangular) cells. This pack weighs around 150 kg (330 lbs) and has a capacity of 16 kWh.

electric car motor

The size of a watermelon: my electric car’s motor

The electric car’s motor is about the size of a watermelon and propels the car from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 15 seconds. The car has a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph) and it has no problem getting up to that speed quite quickly, but once you hit it it won’t go any faster as it has an electronic limiter.

The motor in the car is attached to one of these:

electric car single speed transmission

The car’s single speed “gearbox”

The Peugeot iOn has a single-speed reduction gearbox, which puts the power to the wheels at a more efficient speed than connecting the wheels straight to the motor shaft. This box has a final gear ratio of 7.065:1, and together with the electric motor, these two weigh 64.8 kg (143 lbs).

nabijanie elektromobilov v bratislave - nabíjacie stanice Slovensko

Grabbing a few quick electrons in Bratislava.

But what’s it like to actually own an electric car in Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia? Actually, it’s pretty good (but I’m really, really biased!).

There are a growing number of recharging points across the city. Some shopping malls have free “Type 1” (also known as “J1772”) charging sockets, and there are about 4 rapid chargers across town too, but you typically need a membership card to operate them.

This is actually one of my big complaints about the electric vehicle movement at this moment. If you want to more people to switch to electric, then using a recharging point must be as seamless as filling up a gas car.

Slovnaft Slovensko

I hate gas stations but they sure know what they’re doing.

What I mean is this: you can drive into any gas station in any country and you know you can fill up without problems, pay, and continue your journey.

You cannot do that in an electric car and it really annoys me. Instead, you have to have a wallet filled with charging station membership cards, accounts, and pre-paid plans – and then be hopeful that the electric car charging point isn’t out of order (which people tell me happens quite often).

What I should be able to do is to stop at any quick charging point, plug in my car and pay with my credit card number, or pay via SMS, or even make a phone call to your office to bill me later. Either way, give me one of these options!

Power companies & charging station companies, I’m more than willing to pay a premium price for this convenience, so for God’s sake, LET ME BUY YOUR PRODUCT!
Grrrrr. 🙁

Peugeot iOn electric car 電気自動車 elektromobil Elektro-Auto 电动车 электромобиль

Compact, fully optioned, and costs less than taking the bus!

The car has air conditioning, a heated driver’s seat, electric windows & mirrors, reversing sensors, and front and side airbags. And despite its compact size, this car scores 4 out of 5 stars in the Euro NCAP safety test.

i-MiEV crash tet

“Ouuuuccccch” as E.T. would say.

Interestingly, the car has two charging ports. The port on the right is a “Type 1” socket which plugs into a regular wall outlet, via the 16 amp portable charger. The wall outlets in Europe are around 230 volts and 16 amps, which means on any household socket the car sucks 3.7 kW.

This means it takes around 4 to 5 hours from empty to refill which isn’t bad at all. It also means a complete recharge from empty to full costs just €1.20 ($1.36 USD). That’s cheaper than the bus. In fact, it’s almost cheaper than walking! 🙂

230 volt, 16 amp electric car charger

The charger provides 3.7 kilowatts straight out of the wall outlet!

The port on the left side of the car however is a CHAdeMO socket which pours DC power directly into the battery pack at high amperage. Using this plug can refill the car from flat to 80% full in around 25 to 30 minutes!

The car is also wonderfully fun to drive, and I haven’t felt restricted in any way. In fact, yesterday we took a drive to a lake in Austria – and back again – on a single charge.

Kiwi EV

In Austria: the Kiwi EV has gone international!

The journey was 107 kilometres in total (66 miles) and we pushed this little city car hard, driving against a strong headwind and at highways speeds.

This really put the car out of its comfort zone: it was designed to commute at city speeds from home to the office; not keep up with BMWs and Audis at “Austrian speeds”!

Long distance electric car journey

Almost home: only one battery bar left but I wasn’t worried at all.

Despite this, we made the journey to the lake and back to Slovakia with one bar of battery remaining, and even then I wasn’t worried at all. This is because there’s a 50 kW quick charger right near the border, so I could easily grab enough power to get home in only 3 or 4 minutes of recharging!

To see all this (and our long-distance drive) in a fun & easily digestible video, click the play button below:

Now, for the next instalment I need to do something about the car’s pathetic sound system. I want more bass and a big colour display. I mean, just because the car is electric, doesn’t mean it can’t be loud!

Stay tuned!

Woohoo! I bought an electric car again!

Finally I own an EV again!

Peugeot iOn

It’s 100% electric and 100% mine!

After years of wanting another electric car, and almost two years of saving every cent, I just bought an electric car!

I really did it! It’s 100% electric and it’s 100% mine!

Peugeot iOn for Sale in Slovakia - elektricke auto na predaj na Slovensko

I knew the minute I saw it. Something just “clicked”. I had to buy it.

I’m truly gob-smacked (and very lucky) to have bought this awesome little electric car. As you can see above, the car was originally advertised for €10,000 – which is a bargain price – but the original owner (let’s call him Mr Awesome) let me have it for €7000!

Coincidently, that was exactly how much I had saved in a year and a half. It really was destiny. I was meant to have it.

But why did he sell it to me for so little? He could have easily got the €10,000 asking price as electric cars are very rare in Slovakia (at the last count there are only around 60 EVs in the whole country with a population of 5 million!).

Kiwi EV - Peugeot iOn - electric car adventures from a Kiwi in Europe

These custom plates are awesome but they’re actually purely decorative and not legal.

Well, the reason was simple, but sad. Mr Awesome bought the car for his wife in 2011 and – get this – it’s the first electric car ever registered in Slovakia to a private citizen. His wife put many thousands of kilometres on the car (and a few scratches) but sadly she passed away in late 2014 after battling an illness.

The previous owner kept the car until June 2015, but it just sat in his garage, so he decided to sell it. As I was checking the prices and availability of electric cars every day, I saw it pretty quickly. My heart skipped a beat.

I realised if I sold my gas car I could achieve the €10,000 asking price. My wife called Mr Awesome and arranged to go and see the car as soon as possible. Then, upon meeting him in person, he knew me! He’d seen some of my electric car obsessed tweets and comments around the internet and knew just how passionate I am about electric vehicles.

Long story short, he offered it to me for €7,000 as that’s what car dealers had offered him and he wanted to move on with his life. I grabbed his hand and shook it enthusiastically, and barely a day later we went to the Dopravný inšpektorát (transport office) to change the ownership into my name!

The Dopravný inšpektorát is one of the least fun places to visit in the whole of Slovakia.

A visit to the depressing and bureaucratic transport office is not much fun (is it in any country?) but it had to be done. After a short wait, we filled out the paperwork, a police officer checked everything, and I drove away in my electric vehicle!

Click below to watch the event unfold on video!

It was a real miracle. There’s no other word for it.  I’m absolutely thrilled and I’ve already driven 200 kilometres in city driving in just one weekend!

So come along with me on this voyage of discovery and gas-free adventure, starting with this one!