Saturday, November 27, 2021
Cars

Affordable electric cars are out there. But when will they be here?


Working out on my cross trainer this morning, rain pouring down outside, I was getting excited watching the latest Fully Charged report from China.

Elliot was talking about the Leap TO 3 – a very cheap car built for narrow city streets. The price quoted was equivalent to $A16,000. I am sure the landed cost in Australia would be much higher. The point is; it would still be far cheaper than any electric car we have here at the moment.

The Leap TO 3 is marketed as luxury super mini. It certainly is a small car and has some great tech features, although I am not so sure about the super or the luxury.

Inside, there is lots of plastic in and around the simplified dash.  You are surrounded by glass – windscreen and sunroof. The Leap only has one windscreen wiper, like a racing car, but it is more like a go-kart with a top speed of 100 km/hour. However, it is a long-range go-kart with 400km driving range.

There are some surprisingly good features for the money, including the cute headlights, but the fact that the Leap comes with a 150,000km or 8 year warranty is pretty significant for a car at this price, and made possible by the fact that it has a liquid-cooled battery.

The Leap has fast charging capabilities, OTA updates, and Level 2 driving assist. Opening the boot you find that there is 210 litres of shopping holding capacity, even more if you fold down the back seats.

The Leap even has a camera to make sure you are not falling asleep. Look out Wuling – there’s competition on the block.

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However, if you prefer a car from Europe … spring has arrived courtesy of Dacia. Jack Scarlett reviewed the Dacia Spring in Paris.

It is Europe’s cheapest EV.  Made in Romania, Dacia is part of the Renault group. They specialize in producing affordable, simple, easily fixed cars. It retails in Europe for roughly $A20,000 after government subsidies.  It is an SUV-like city car with 290 litres of boot space.

However, you can’t really fit 4 adults inside and it is approximately the same size as a Fiat 500. Despite only having a hand full of horsepower it can get up to city speeds quickly. It is the slowest EV Jack has ever driven with a top speed of 100km and it took 19 seconds to get there.

Range is reasonable at 300 km. Next year Dacia is planning to bring out a Business version for car sharing and a Cargo version with 700 L of load space for urban last mile deliveries.

For those who love nostalgia, it comes with a hand brake lever, chunky buttons and a petrol pump symbol on the battery charge indicator. This car is Eastern European sturdy. It is a simple, utilitarian grocery getter.

One of the reviews watchers wrote: “I actually own one (I’m from Romania). Here it was dirt cheap – 8000 EURO after all incentives. I agree with the review –  it is very good for city driving. Minor drawbacks are: cannot charge from 3phase A/C, can use only one phase.

“Thus, if you’re connected to a 20Kw AC charging station it charges with only 6.6 kwh which means long charging times (3hrs from 20% to 80%). Real range is around 170 km winter – 200 km summer, city driving. Other minor negative aspects: driver cannot control rear electric windows, no light in the trunk nor glovebox, no armrest. Apart from this, it is an excellent workhorse for daily driving.”



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