I have to admit something: I'm somewhat of an EV newbie
My experience with a battery electric vehicle is very limited. Actually this will be my first time driving an EV for more than a day, as many of the times I drove one were limited to very specific courses and for a few hours at a time only. My previous drive with an EV was with the Nissan Leaf for about half a day in Hong Kong, with afternoon traffic at that.
It's just as well, because the last thing I want with my hectic schedule at work is extra anxiety... range anxiety, to be exact. It is still the top concern for would-be EV buyers and new EV users; that goes double in the Philippines where chargers are only starting to come online in malls and fuel stations.
In Canada, that's really not the case. Here, the infrastructure is far more developed. If I was a bit anxious the first time around, this time it's more of excitement. And given that the latest EVs have become more efficient and battery tech has allowed for longer range or mileage, I should be able to enjoy myself.
At least that's what I expect from the BMW iX xDrive50.
It promises a maximum range of 620 kilometers and my route was just around Vancouver and its neighboring cities Burnaby and Richmond. Will I go crazy or will I learn to trust the technology?
Trust the Machine
Modern driver assistance features such as hill descent control and adaptive cruise control have taught us something that actually prepares us for EVs - that is to trust the technology. In the same manner, we have to trust the car and its indicated range that it will take us that far. Or at least up to about 80% of its promised range, just to be safe.
Simply put, if you can drive your ICE car for approximately a week without fueling up, you can go last just as long with an EV and not worry about running out of charge as well. That is presuming you will be driving around the metropolis and its nearby cities.
Plan your trip
If you plan to go further, it should be able to take you places that are about four hours away with no problem. Just make sure you'll have access to AC plug for the supplied portable charger or the place you're going to has EV charging infrastructure in place.
A quiet drive
One serious benefit of driving an EV is its smooth and quiet environment where the only sound that you hear is from the external noises or the music playing from your playlist. There is no vibration from an engine. That is a soothing and welcoming feeling from all the hustle and bustle outside.
Luckily, Vancouver and its neighboring cities are well-equipped with over 780 charging stations and a good majority are level 2 chargers. I was pretty confident I could conveniently charge the iX to full in about 2 hours once it goes down to 20%. Little did I know that I would face some hurdles with payment. As a tourist from another country, the ChargePoint account didn't want to accept a Philippine-issued credit card as a method of payment. To make it worse, this was a day before I was supposed to return the EV with at least a 75% charge. Just to be clear, I could still return it with plenty of range after 6 days of driving around and racking up a little over 400 kilometers.
And there was another power outlet accessibility hitch that prevented me from properly charging with the 3-pin portable charger that came with the car, hence the need for a dedicated EV charger. Luckily, I had access to a private charger to top up the battery in as little time as possible.
I now had a full range of up to 565 kilometers (based on my driving pattern). I was actually expecting a lot less than the maximum range, but less than 10% variance is not bad at all.
Life without charging at home
Another question arises when considering an EV, what if my home parking does not have access to an outlet or charging infrastructure?
Based on experience, you can drive a modern EV for about a week before you need to charge, and that should give you enough time to go to a public fast charger to juice up and get a full range again. Many EV dealers are still offering complimentary use of chargers, but even if they start charging, it shouldn’t be as much as a full tank of gas. Think of it as bringing your car to a gas station to fuel up as you would on your ICE vehicle.
To EV or not to EV, that is the question
I did not go crazy with range anxiety. After having experienced a weeklong drive with an electric vehicle, I definitely learned to trust the machine even more. I would seriously consider getting myself an EV in the near future once prices become more reasonable.
If you can afford the luxuries of life, BMW Philippines offers the iX in xDrive40 and the recently launched iX3 in the Philippines; expect the iX to have a more competitive price with the recently signed executive order cutting import tariffs for EVs to zero.
The real takeaway is this: driving an EV requires an extra layer of thought. Like a game of chess, you need to plan ahead, think about your consumption, and override that desire to mash the throttle.
An EV makes you pay more attention and take extra care in your driving. At the end of the day, isn't that what we're supposed to be doing anyway?