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Can you live with an electric car? We are going to find out!
I love the noise of a sweet petrol engine revving its nuts off. I like the gurgling torque of a diesel engine that ebbs and flows with your right foot as you hammer down a fast road. I like shifting gears, even if nowadays it is just paddles operating an automatic gearbox. Engines give cars life; a distinct character; soul even. And I write all this having spent the past two months commuting around Pune in an electric car.
Welcome to the world of EVs — something I have been very vocal in expressing my absolute hatred towards. I don’t want to be driving a washing machine, I remember myself hollering. And now I’m hunting for that tweet, in a desperate attempt to delete it. Electric cars are not bad at all! In fact, for city use, they’re actually rather good. Silence is a given but the thing that I’ve noticed is electric cars are easier to drive than their IC-engined equivalents. I’m not sure why, after all, the other cars I drive are also automatics, but the Kona Electric takes that wee bit less effort. You’re a little more relaxed, you get a little less worked up by traffic. And the thing moves! I drive it in Eco mode with regeneration at Level 2 most of the time and even then when you floor it, the front wheels squirm with torque steer. In Sport mode the Kona is a Traffic Light Grand Prix champion. Nothing can keep up with it. Yes, there’s no emotional response when gunning it but there’s enough speed to keep your mind focused.
In terms of charging infrastructure, we’ve done nothing apart from calling a chap from Urban Company and fitting a 15-Amp plug point in our office parking lot. This is the slowest way to charge the Kona but it works fine for me — when I’m in office I spend at least 7 or 8 hours and plugging it in two days in a row tops up the batteries from near-empty. The range? The car now knows my driving style (and Pune’s traffic) so on a full charge I get just over 300km. The office is just 5km from home but even if I were working at one of the car factories in Chakan with a daily round trip of 60km, that would still mean the Kona Electric would only have to be charged twice in a week.
There’s another plus point — you don’t waste time going to the pumps. Park the car in the office, a minute to plug it in with the supplied cable that sits in a box in the boot, and I’m done. And the running costs are next to nothing — Rs 370 for 300km, which is cheaper than a scooter, a rickshaw; heck it’s half the cost of taking a bus! As for the Kona itself, it is a smallish SUV so you don’t have an abundance of space, some of the interior bits and pieces could have had better quality to justify its price, and the stereo needs more bass.
But then again the car draws plenty of attention, particularly with the green number plates. Even my neighbour, who never talks to me, actually stopped me for a 5-minute conversation on cars! Keeping the environment and the neighbours happy. That’s what the Kona Electric is doing.