An update on EVs

For those still thinking about buying an electric vehicle, the landscape has changed considerably over the past year. Yet deciding what to buy has become even more complex. A Tesla was always a safe bet, offering the best range and a broad charging network, with car prices lower than ever. But with Musk supporting and boosting antisemitic and other hateful tweets on his X-site, and bringing back the most hateful hatemongers, many have eliminated Tesla as an option with some even selling their cars because of Musk.

Fortunately, there are good choices from other manufacturers. Many offer models with better interior and ergonomic designs and a wider range of body styles than Tesla, which still uses the same 15-year old body design with minor variations among models. I still don’t get how Tesla can call some of his models SUVs.

Range

While the longer the range the better to reduce the need for charging on long trips, the differences among most models are not as different as you might think. The vast majority of non-Tesla EV models have a rated range of 200-280 miles. A few premium models are as high as 350 miles. But when you factor in the manufacturers’ advice to only charge to 80% and not fall below 10%, the actual range is about 150-250 miles. That’s about half the distance you get on a full tank of gas with an internal combustion engine.

Also, even attaining this range is dependent on the temperature and the type of driving, whether it’s highway or local roads. These factors can reduce range by another 10-20%. The bottom line is choosing a new EV based on range alone won’t narrow your choices very much.

When you give consideration to your driving habits, the range may not even be all that important. Most EVs, regardless of range, work just fine for those that put on less than 50-150 miles a day and can charge at home. If you make long trips of 300 or 400 miles frequently or are away from home a lot, then you’re going to be inconvenienced by the 30 to 90 minutes of charging time required every couple of hundred miles. But if you rarely take long trips, don’t obsess over range.

New Models

Among the available brands of new EVs, the popular Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUVs offer some of most advanced technology in the $45,000 range, with both brands scoring average reliability ratings from Consumers Report (see below). They are both capable of being charged more quickly than most because of their architecture.

Volvo has also become an important player in the EV market and makes some of the most interesting EVs. The company has pledged to sell 1 million EVs by 2025, and is now taking orders for the EX30, an attractive compact SUV with a 280 mile range and a cost of about $40,000. It’s gaining quite a bit of attention for it’s performance, good looks, and thoughtful interior design.

The Chevy Bolt is a good choice at its entry cost of $30K with a range of about 250 miles, and is entitled to a $7500 rebate. Volkswagen also offers lower cost models such as the ID4, but has struggled with glitchy software and reliability issues.

Toyota has been late to the market and their offerings show with EVs that barely gets 200 miles. But their models offer excellent reliability, and some of the nicest interiors, particular the Lexus RX. Because their range is not as great as their competitors, you’ll find some hefty discounts if you decide to lease.

Factors other than range

With range out of the way, the ergonomics and tech wizardry. become major differentiators. The Genesis GV60, at about $60,000, is built on the Hyundai/Kia platform and adds a very high end interior with a collection of advanced features. For example, when you turn on your turn signal to change lanes, the side view mirror view is displayed on a sweeping hi-res display running across the entire dash. It also lets you enter and start your car using biometric data, and it retains all of the mechanical buttons and switches to control audio and climate.

Some companies like Volvo emulate the sparse, single middle screen design of the Tesla that puts most of the controls on the screen and reduces physical buttons to a minimum. Others add a second display in front of the driver and retain many of the conventional controls, which many prefer. It’s easier to use and doesn’t require a learning curve if you lend your car to another.

I’ve been looking for an EV for about a year, and the models that have stood out have been the GV60, the Volvo EX30, and the BMW iX, a luxury SUV, with a 324 mile range, but at a unaffordable cost of $87,000!

Also orth considering are the rebates from the Federal government, which are somewhat complicated. Basically you can get a tax rebate if a certain portion of the car is built in the U.S. Next year the rules will change and you’ll be able to get that savings at the time of purchase. More info is here.

Reliability EVs have tended to be a bit less reliable than conventional cars, mostly because they are all new. But the designs are simpler and required maintenance is much less. Tesla, in particular, has been slow to make repairs and many complain about long waits for parts.

Consumer Report Reliability Predictions of EVs

Electric SUVs:
Above average: Nissan Ariya
Average: BMW iX, Kia EV6, Audi Q4, Suburu Solterra, Toyota b24X, Genesis GV60, Ford Mustang, Audi Q8, Tesla Model Y
Below Average: Hundyai Ioniq 5, Volkswagem ID4, Tesla Model X, Rivian R1S

Electric Cars
Above average: Hundyai Ioniq 6
Average: BMW i4, Kia Niro EV, Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf
Below average: Lucid Air, Tesla Model S
Much below average: Mercedes EQS

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Then there’s GM

GM promises to go all EV and makes some affordable models such as the Bolt, as noted above, but unbelievably is dropping Apple CarPlay and Android Auto from future models. They are doing this to be able to grab a share of revenue from the apps we subscribe to. They want to sell them directly.

It’s a bold yet foolish move, since ApplePlay and Android Auto are hugely popular features, bringing our phone apps and maps seamlessly to the car. To understand how deep of a hole GM has dug themselves, this week they just dug even deeper. They argue that they are doing this for safety reasons!

Quoting from the popular Apple-centric site, DaringFireball.net,

GM FLOATS A BULLSHIT ‘SAFETY’ EXCUSE FOR DROPPING CARPLAY

Scott Evans, writing for MotorTrend regarding GM’s announcement earlier this year that they’d be dropping CarPlay (and Android Auto) support from future vehicles:

Tim Babbitt, GM’s head of product for infotainment, gave MT a better explanation at a press event for the new Chevrolet Blazer EV, the flagship vehicle in the no CarPlay or Android Auto strategy (and our 2023 MotorTrend SUV of the Year winner). According to him, there’s an important factor that didn’t make it into the fact sheet: safety. Specifically, he cited driver distraction caused by cell phone usage behind the wheel. 

According to Babbitt, CarPlay and Android Auto have stability issues that manifest themselves as bad connections, poor rendering, slow responses, and dropped connections. And when CarPlay and Android Auto have issues, drivers pick up their phones again, taking their eyes off the road and totally defeating the purpose of these phone-mirroring programs. Solving those issues can sometimes be beyond the control of the automaker. You can start to see GM’s frustration. 

Babbitt’s thesis is that if drivers were to do everything through the vehicle’s built-in systems, they’d be less likely to pick up their phones and therefore less distracted and safer behind the wheel. He admits, though, GM hasn’t tested this thesis in the lab or real world yet but believes it has potential, if customers go for it. 

What a load of horseshit. If CarPlay is unsafe, why isn’t GM recalling all its existing cars that have it equipped? And that last sentence is the real kicker: hasn’t been tested, even in a lab, but he’s just guessing. In his imagined scenario, people check their phones while driving when the CarPlay connection flakes out. But if the car doesn’t support CarPlay, people will use their phones for every single thing that’s on their phones but not in GM’s built-in system. “If drivers were to do everything through the vehicle’s built-in systems” is as much a fantasy as, say, “If drivers always obeyed all posted speed limits.” It’s not going to happen. There is no plausible scenario where the drivers of future GM vehicles without CarPlay support check their iPhones less frequently than they do in vehicles that support CarPlay.

As GM continues to try to dig their way out of this idiotic hole, Ford CEO Jim Farley continues to laugh:

We’re committed to keeping Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. @Ford customers love the features because they help keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. We work closely with Apple & Google to create a very high-quality experience for customers. And I think we have the best experience out there with SYNC 4A. 

It’s enough to make you think that GM’s decision to drop CarPlay was made by moles in the company planted by Ford.

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Here are a few good websites that focus on EVs.

https://insideevs.com/

https://www.greencarreports.com/

https://electrek.co/

by Phil Baker