#AD – This post is sponsored by Go Ultra Low NE
Last weekend we were given the chance to take an Ultra Low Emissions Electric vehicle on an urban adventure. Our car for the weekend was a Kia E-Niro which was kindly provided to us by Lookers in Newcastle city centre. We have previously toyed with buying an electric vehicle in the past so we were excited to give it a proper try & weigh up the pros and cons. The girls have a real interest in the environment and had a lot of questions themselves which the test drive would hopefully answer.
Picking up our Kia E-Niro
We arrived at the Kia garage bright and early ready to start our weekend of fun.
Staff at the garage were super helpful running through all of the features of the Kia E-Niro (priced from £39K) & giving Alan a demonstration of the features. Straight away we noticed the increased space from our Nissan Note including the impressive boot which we popped our weekend cases in!
Electric Car worries
Alan was a little worried about charging up the vehicle overnight and staff reassured him that is was straightforward using a three-pin plug. Myth number one busted! We had assumed that you must install an electric charging point in your home which isn’t the case! Although quicker with a charging point. We were amazed that a full charge with a range of 280 miles would cost between £3 – £4 of electricity. Although the car is relatively pricey it was easy to see where family savings could be made!
As we started our adventure I spotted that the range on the car was “only” 120 miles of charge. I won’t lie to you as I genuinely started to stress about charging points! So instantly asked the sales staff about the Kia Niro Changing Cable. This is something that I think a lot of people think is the downside of an electric car. Instead of dragging out the drama to the end of this adventure, I’ll quickly stop it. After driving for 46 miles the dashboard range read 90 miles. You see this car regenerates power as you slow down or go downhills. And simply plugging it in “at home”, topped the car up, even though the second day we did 34 miles. Which would have left 40 miles in the car. (I’ve left less than that in our normal car without thinking twice about it!)
Our Weekend Electric Car Adventure
As most of our family travel is in the urban environment, we thought about what would be a real test drive for our family lifestyle. We decided that we would set off on the Elmer the Elephant Trail taking the car up and down the North East coast. If you haven’t heard of Elmer, where have you been? They are a series of 50 painted sculptures placed around the North East. The trail syncs with a phone app, which allows you to “collect” them as you find them. The Parade lasts for 11 weeks, after this they are auctioned off to raise money for St Oswald’s Hospice in Gosforth. Not only are they a great way of exploring the area it is part of fundraising for a great North East Charity.
We started off from our home in Great Park, heading directly to Gosforth High Street to find the first Elmer the elephant.
An electric car drives a little like an automatic car, but with even less hassle. The motor that drives the car doesn’t use gears, which makes the motion very smooth. Also with the lack of combustion in an engine and venting off exhaust, the Kia E-Niro is nearly silent. Which brings me to another quirky point.
With the much quieter drive inside the car, we decided to put the radio on. Turning the volume up to the 5th bar (of about 40 bars). The kids quickly asked for us to turn it down. As the music wasn’t competing with the car noise there was no need to turn it up to hear it (unless you really wanted to).
We continued our journey to the Ouseburn to find an Elephant at the Seven Stories, which highlighted our next interesting point. As we drove down Byker Bank, the downhill motion added 0.6 Miles or range back into the battery. Which would later explain why our milage and range limit didn’t add up.
From the Ouseburn we headed to the Spanish City in Whitley Bay, to continue the trail and grab a bite to eat. Abigail insisted on trying a nearby ice cream parlour and as the cost of the travel was so small, technically we’d save enough money to treat her.
Along the road to North Shields Fish Quay for the next one. This time we also found a public sculpture by popular artist Ray Lonsdale.
Ray’s sculptures can be found across the region, including Seaham, Morpeth and Scarborough.
Before setting off to the next location we spotted a cool gadgetry feature in the Kia E-Niro. Wireless Charging! OMG! This is a game-changer in our household. We always break charging wires for phones and this is so tidy and simple. I simply rested her iPhone X in the dashboard bay and it was charging. Imogen, on the other hand, trailed a standard charging cable through to the back of the car from the USB socket.
Off towards the Tyne Tunnel for Elenora the Explorer. This one was in between the newly reopened Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel and the car Tunnel.
It seemed a shame not to take the opportunity of testing out the pedestrian Tunnel, so Abigail and I took the 10-minute walk under the tyne, while Alan took the car journey and paid the £1.80.
Although we weren’t racing, we all arrived at the other end in the same amount of time, even though the car travelled a lot further. And as we’d arrived in South Tyneside, we decided to call it a day as we’d got theatre plans for the evening. So headed to my parents for the night.
Charging the Kia E-Niro
It really couldn’t have been any easier topping up the battery. Bear in mind that there were 90 miles left in the battery, I thought we had to do some charging to see what it was all about.
From an outdoor socket, we unwound the Kia E-Niro charging cable (Type 2 Charging Cable) and plugged it in the front of the car, connected it to the mains. Being curious I checked the dashboard and it said that to charge up to 100% from the socket would take 21 hours. Also, remember that a dedicated charging unit would be quicker. Even so, we weren’t in a rush to be out in the car until tomorrow.
We locked it up and left it for the night.
In the morning we, unplugged and bundled up the cables, storing them back in the boot. We’d charged overnight for about 16 hours, which took the car from 90 miles to a range of 202 miles. More than enough for our return journey via Sunderland.
The Revelation Moment!
It was at this point that I realised that all my fears of electric charging aren’t really a problem. As the ability to trickle in electricity from a 3 pin plug can top up the battery from home. Our usual fuel tank lasts us 480 miles over 2 and a half weeks. So on this basis, we would need to charge the car probably once a week. It would soon become part of the normal routine, simply plugging in after the weekly shop.
The longer journeys aren’t necessarily an issue either. We have friends in Great Yarmouth. To get there is a 6-hour journey covering exactly 280 miles. However, we always stop at a service station at least once for a break and a drink. There is a network of rapid charging points that can do an 80% charge in 1 hour at most services. An 80% charge would add over 200 miles to the battery range. So you would be more than covered in distance.
I asked why only 80% charge and the answer is to protect the battery. Rapidly charging to more than this can damage the capacity of the battery. So the technology and the car are set up to preventing any charging damage.
We also just happened to fiddle with the onboard navigation at around 80% charge (total coincidence). The Navigation system tells you where you could reach in distance from your current location. So, Newcastle to Glasgow? No problem.
Our thoughts on Electric Cars
We had a great time on our urban adventure with the Kia E-Niro. The car was comfortable, spacious, & economical. All of our fears such as charging (and range anxiety) were completely unnecessary ones. Although the vehicles are expensive at the initial outlay the charging costs are low which makes perfect sense for a family on a budget who like to travel a lot by car.
I do think as the popularity of electric vehicles grows in the future the price will lower which will make the choice an easier one to make. We all want to help lower emissions & know that where we live in Gosforth is a black spot for high levels of fumes so anything that can help with this problem is a huge bonus!
For more information on electric vehicles & the network see www.goultralow.com/news/.
If you would like to test drive a Kia E-Niro contact Lookers. #whynot give an electric car a go? You will be just as surprised as we were.