What’s Next?

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Now that I am in the final year of my lease, I am starting to think about what to get next and I am especially interested in EV alternatives. This will be the first of several posts as I test drive some of the EVs available in my area.

I drove the e-Golf today at Trend Motors in Rockaway, NJ. The sales person who helped me was Eryn – she said she had specific training for the e-Golf and seemed more knowledgeable about their electric car than most people I’ve talked to at dealerships. After our test drive, I offered her a drive in my Fit EV.

Apart from the power train, I understand that the differences between the e-Golf and the other variants are minimal. The Golf family of cars is now in its 7th generation, according to Wikipedia. In the short drive I took around town and on the highway, I found the car to feel much more solid and refined than the Fit EV. The doors close with a deeper “thunk” than I am accustomed to in the Honda.

It is clear that the engineers took more pains than at Honda to create a better all-around package. For example, the VW has LED headlamps, which I expect are brighter and more energy efficient than the halogen lamps on the Fit. The VW uses its heat pump for heat as well as AC, whereas the Honda generates heat only through resistive electric coils which are more expensive in terms of range. The VW has 4-wheel disc brakes whereas the Fit has drums in the rear, contributing to disappointing braking performance. The VW seems to carry the extra weight of the batteries better than the Fit does. The fit and finish of the VW interior was much nicer than the Honda (this was the nicer of the 2 trim levels that are available.)

An area where I think the Honda is better is in the EV instrumentation: its state-of-charge is much easier to read and its instantaneous charging display is more intuitive. On the VW, the SoC was stuffed into a tiny gauge the same as their fuel level, which was difficult to read. The VW also had a “power” gauge which I could not figure out and was also in a very small display. Finally, the instantaneous power display was disguised to look like a tachometer, which added nothing but confusion. Overall, the engineers and designers seemed to value creating the same experience for the “e” driver as the ICE driver and this esthetic was carried too far into the instrumentation. I would prefer the EV’s gauges celebrate the fact that the car is electric and be easier to use.

Both cars have similar features for selecting economy levels including degree of regenerative braking, although I did not have enough time in the VW to have an opinion about the calibration of the choices. The “user interface” is better in the VW, the options being selected through the “gear selector” whereas the FIT has 3 buttons in an awkward location on the dash for Economy/Normal/Sport.

The current lease deal with $2,350 down and $299/month seems reasonable…it will be interesting to see what what they will be offering in a year. Overall, despite the disappointing instrumentation, this seems like a car that would be easy to live with and enjoyable to drive. I’ll keep it on the “definite maybe” list.

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