By Sandy Myhre
Electric car technology is improving and the Hyundai Ioniq EV is a fine example. For starters, consider the name. It’s a nice play on a word that defines its purpose unlike the Nissan Leaf which means what, exactly?
There are two Ioniq models – the completely and utterly all-electric EV (the flagship model) and the hybrid. For a week we had the up-market EV, front-wheel-drive.
Make no mistake, this is a beautiful car. It’s very quiet, of course, but if you’ve harboured any thoughts that an electric car can’t perform as well as your standard petrol model, then forget it. The Ioniq EV is dripping with every driver-assist acronym you can muster and that save us all from maladroit driving. Think VSM, ESC, TCS, SCC, you get the picture.
Then there’s side, roof and knee airbags, electronic park brake (EPB) which means, in summing up briefly, that on the road the EV displays the impeccable road manners we wish everyone had.
Top speed is around 165 k/ph and acceleration 0-100 is a sliver under 10 seconds. Trying to beat those figures is to reduce the available driving range because it consumes power. It’s better to drive economically to maintain current (pardon the pun) range accessibility. A tell-tale on the dash screen gives you huge clues as to how and it’s interesting to note that around town driving can be rather more economical than motor way driving.
Interior creature specifications are no less impressive starting with leather seats which in terms of sheer comfort would rival Peugeot – often considered the best car-seat-maker in the world. And in the EV they’re heated too. And legroom in what is considered a mid-size sedan is generous as well.
There are rain sensing front wipers (put to fairly good use recently) park assist and rear sensors, a reversing camera, Bluetooth voice recognition, USB and auxillary i-Pod input, keyless entry and anti-theft alarm. What’s not to love?
Arguably the very kindly proportioned ( 20cm or 8 inch) dashboard touch screen is one of the best interior features. Why? Because you can read it. For years car manufacturers have assumed every driver in the world has Kryptonian vision and that a small interior display unit is perfectly formed. It’s not. Try deciphering pale cream lettering or numbers on a light grey background and you’ll see (or not) what we mean. Literally full marks to whoever made that decision in the Hyundai hierarchy.
And so to the electric side of things. The range is quite good – up to about 200 ks on (one assumes) fairly flat roads. If you don’t live in a city, however, care and calculation must be observed. There is only one public rapid-charging station north of Whangarei so from there, you won’t get to Cape Reinga without trickle charging somewhere.
The Kawakawa station was installed by Chargenet, a new player in the electrical ‘refuelling’ market. But be warned. Before you can charge up, you need to go online, register, and receive a fob – in the mail. That’s perfect for electric car owners but what if it’s a rental? There is no information on the charging unit to say this. The problem was circumvented by phoning Chargenet and registering a credit card. That was after we discovered we couldn’t rapid charge in Kawakawa.
Chargenet are planning to install more units further north but, not yet. It’s an expensive exercise and they’re a start-up company. That brings up the question – is this a chicken-and-egg situation? Should more public charging units be installed before EVs are made readily available or, the other way around?
In the end we charged up at home because it was raining and the charging unit in Kawakawa doesn’t have overhead protection. It’s a long process. From scratch it would take about 14 hours to fully charge the Ioniq so with careful driving we conserved power. Mercury Energy (our supplier) says the cheaper kilowatt rates kick in from 11pm – 7am so it can be done more economically overnight. But not, be warned again, with an extension lead.
Having said that, Northland tends to be a forgotten part of the country, we know that and make allowances. The public charging unit infrastructure will catch up so the other question is, is the Ioniq EV a good investment?
Absolutely. It’s a stunning motor vehicle just a tad ahead of its time in certain areas of New Zealand but well worth the $50,000 investment because you will save on petrol costs over time and the electricity costs to top up are far less than a full tank of fossil fuel.
The entire raison d’etre of the Ioniq is, of course, to help save the planet by not polluting the pristine environment the Bay of Islands is noted for. There will be considerable interest in the car north of Whangarei for that reason alone.