Auto123 puts the Kia Niro EV to the long-term test. Today, part 8.
With the holiday season approaching and me absconding to sunny southern climes for a vacation (double-vaxxed and masked in public, I say to heck with any and all variants of the virus!), I tucked "my" Kia Niro EV away for a couple of weeks. Which gave me time for a moment of reflection...
That revealed to me the following: I love daily life with an electric vehicle!
It's been more than four months now that I've been introducing myself in depth to the world of gasoline-free personal transportation – thank you Kia – and frankly I’m won over. Seduced, you might say. Convinced. A convert.
There are the advantages common to all EVs, whether they are American-made, Asian-made, European-made or whatever. Here is the universal language of EVs:
1. On board it’s very quiet. And the peacefulness inevitably rubs off on the way I drive and interact with other motorists. I am more patient. Well, not all the time, but the Niro is part of my therapy.
Now, I never minded a backfiring engine, but there's also the fact that I'm now, um, more mature. Is it a crime to now prefer quiet to a cacophony of sound? I don't mean I'll never attend a rock concert again. On the contrary, they keep me young. Like my comic books (I'm currently re-reading the classic Franco-Belgian comics series The Adventures of Lieutenant Blueberry).
Rarely a day goes by without me seeing and hearing some hothead tearing off from an intersection, squealing their tires and roaring their engine. And just as I'm about to judge them, I remember that I've done that. More than once. Imagine the number of cars a car reviewer can test drive in their career. How many times have I made a point of doubling back and driving through a tunnel again just for the pleasure of hearing the triumphant roar of a 911 Turbo bounce against its walls? (Answer: a few.)
2. The Kia Niro EV, like most EVs, provides excellent acceleration. Nothing like a Porsche, mind you, but more than enough to hit the highway like a bullet, to weave through traffic with the agility of a trout and even to - yes, I must confess - make its 17-inch Toyo tires squeal.
But it was out of pure professional curiosity, I swear! To test the car, scientifically.
3. Cost, and conscience. Not having to enrich massive oil companies is another plus when you drive an EV, of course. Yes, it's more expensive to buy than its internal combustion-engine sibling, but subsidies soften the blow to start with, and detailed calculations by knowledgeable colleagues show that EVs end up being a bargain over the long term (more than five years) versus their gas-fed equivalents.
Moreover, these financial considerations will inevitably shift in favour of electrics as the cost of batteries drops and manufacturers assemble ever-better EVs that are ever-cheaper to produce.
The cost issue is just one of the many questions that have fascinated me since I started learning about the world of EVs. Those queries include learning about charging stations, about maintaining an EV, about manufacturing and about retiring/recycling batteries, and of course about the different EVs on the market. I feel like I've stepped into Ali Baba's cave, but for journalists. So many answers to discover!
I can, do and will continue to count on die-hard EV fans, their clubs and their well-organized groups such as the Association des véhicules électriques du Québec (AVÉQ) or on blogs such as Branchez-vous to understand everything because these people are very practiced on how to get information out there.
And let's not forget my neighborhood expert, 11-year-old Emiliano, that car enthusiast I introduced you to earlier. He came to visit me while I was trying to de-ice the Niro's windshield with a scraper that wasn't doing its job.
"It's good that it's cold," he said by way of a greeting.
"Oh yeah! Because you think it's fun to scrape ice?"
"That's not important. What's important is that you'll finally be able to check to see if it's true what they say about the drop in range when it's cold."
My, but the little bugger knows his stuff! Tucked away in that Ali Baba’s cave, among all the questions about EVs, there is indeed one about the effects of winter on the battery and on range.
"You're right," I replied as I finally won a battle against a particularly stubborn section of ice (thanks mainly to the Niro blasting hot air against the glass). "That will be interesting to test."
"At least, it might be more interesting than your columns about your trip to Ontario."
"What, nothing! You’re not really teaching us much! We're parked in Kingston or outside a Tim Hortons while you go on and on about the Electric Circuit!
"Yes, but it's very interesting, the Elec..."
"Maybe, but you just have to tell people to go to their website. They have a Q&A section that answers all kinds of questions, even the kind you wouldn't expect, Mr. Journalist."
"Don't tell me you didn't go look!"
"Well, yes. But I thought people would prefer my way of making it easy to understand," I muttered defensively, the scraper hanging in mid-air above the windshield as I struggled to keep my composure.
"Bah! No need to repeat what’s already explained there. You’d be better off going deeper into some of the answers there that don't seem complete to you."
"Yes, boss!" I stood at attention and saluted him. Anyway, the Niro was done defrosting the windshield mostly on its own. It was its way of telling me it was time to go test the winter.
OK. But that’s for later. Before measuring the effects of winter temperatures on the 64-kWh battery of the Kia Niro EV, I had to go to recharge my own battery in the shade of a coconut tree first.