Actually, that’s misleading and I apologise. I knew that I wanted to drive an electric vehicle (EV) since I first spotted the BMW i3.

A car so different it still manages to turn heads and according to some EV gurus beats the Tesla Model S in terms of technological advances and manufacturing processes.

Speaking of head turning vehicles, there’s the Nissan Leaf. A bit of a Marmite car for sure and although not a fan of the spread, you can count me as a fan of the electric car.

Thanks to Scot Kirlew, a Milton Keynes based electric car specialist, independent seller and fountain of hard earned EV knowledge, my two darling kids – Evie (7) and Leo (5) – finally had a long drive in a lovely car.

A car that instead of losing money seems to appreciate in value (caveat emptor) and is hard to find used because those who drive it simply don’t seem keen parting with it.

The lacklustre new Leaf may have some to do with it, although it looks less Marmite and has a fancy e-Pedal (like regenerative braking on steroids), it’s not enough to pry the original from its many owners.

Choices

Back to my conundrum then, the Leaf is the sensible choice which is both a practical family car and fun to drive whilst being a very economical choice. If the market is to be believed, I would certainly make my money back in two years if I chose to sell it.

I am smitten by the i3 though, a car which caught my attention very early and most drivers seem to acknowledge as a drivers car with bags of power and a typical BMW.

What it has going for it in terms of performance and distance it can travel, compared to the Leaf, it sorely lacks in practicality. The boot may fit one or two small children (or a short vacation worth of bags or shopping) but it’s not spacious by any stretch of the imagination. The Leaf’s boot by comparison, beats even an Audi e-tron.

The interior however … it’s different. Different in looks and build quality to the Leaf and a lot of other electric cars. Where a Tesla simply places an oversized touchpad in the cockpit, the BMW i3 presents a light and airy feel of futurism, designed by a forward thinking interior designer with an eye for detail.

Quality of materials and controls is as you would expect of a high quality and make the Leaf and similar cars appear somewhat utilitarian. I never liked the Leaf’s high gloss black plastics and BMW’s recycled materials beat it in any interior materials challenge for eco-friendly electric vehicles.

So what’s a person to do?

I did what many people living in and around Milton Keynes do: go to the EV Experience Center and take out an electric vehicle of choice for up to a week – for free.

OK, there is a small insurance contribution and a deposit to make sure their costs are covered. You also can’t do more than 300 miles or leave the country but then that’d be considered rude for a free rental anyway.

I am looking forward to living with a BMW i3 (Rex) for a week and tackling routine chores like commuting or shopping and taking the kids out at the weekend. If it turns out to be too impractical, I know the car I will buy instead but imagine it doesn’t… .

fin

Oh, yes – the original premise of this post was ‘to buy or not to buy’ and electric vehicle. You definitely should because:

  • It’s a great driving experience
  • It will save you money (no road tax, no petrol, cheap electricity, less wear and tear) and give you lots of perks (free parking)
  • It’s super quiet and can be a very comfortable ride
  • You keep people with Asthma happy and your environment cleaner

I’ll keep you informed and please share your experience or comments.


Also published on Medium.