The Next Chapter in Our EV Journey

We’ve had a rather interesting 3 months in our Electric Car journey.

  • We said goodbye to the BMW i3
  • We said hello to the new Smart Electric Drive
  • We said hello to the Tesla Model 3
  • We almost said goodbye to the silver Smart ED.

Let’s go back to November 2017…

After three and a half years with the BMW i3 it was time to go our separate ways. We had thought about buying it but the price from BMW Financial was too high (far more than it was actually worth), and they were not prepared to negotiate. There was no option to continue leasing it, so our only option left was to return it at the end of its lease.

We returned it to the place where we picked it up – the same place that we drove away from at the beginning of May 2014 thinking WHAT have we just done?

My i3 was returned in its original state. I removed all the stickers, including the Electronaut ones as they were just for us – the ones who drove the ActiveE. The suspension was raised back up again and the wheels put back to where they were originally. The car was in perfect condition, there was very little wear and tear and I guess that was all down to me and how well I looked after it, but I didn’t like how it looked back in its original state. When I drove it back to the dealer, I really noticed the difference in how it drove, and know why, for me, it was important to lower the suspension and push the wheels out a bit. The car looked naked without its stickers, but they had to be removed as they made it my own personal car, I do not like the thought of someone driving my car, so by removing all the stickers I have depersonalised it. I returned it with only 27,349 miles on it, having taken it out on a 12,000 miles per year lease – so we are way under milage. Back in May 2014 I couldn’t have predicted how my travelling would have reduce so much, I guess that’s what happens when both of us work from home.

Over the last three and a half years there have been lots of thoughts about the i3 – some of them good and some not so good, although I do have to say that my car has been reliable and for the most part I have really enjoyed driving the car, it’s certainly unique in its looks and it draws attention. The car became even better to drive when BMW finally admitted that our ‘wub wub’ tyres were actually faulty – that took 2 long years. The silence, once the tyres were changed was dramatic, making for a lovely quiet driving experience. It hasn’t suffered any of the common issues that a lot of others have experienced except for one, I had the seatbelt restraint light come on which seemed important enough to get it checked out. That turned out to be a sensor issue, nothing related to it being an Electric Car just a BMW!

I have lost count of how many times I have washed the car, I still do not like driving a dirty car and some may say that I am obsessed about cleaning the car once it has rained. I think I’d have to disagree, I just like driving a clean car. The interior is spotless as I keep that clean too and get quite frustrated when it rains and people get in with their muddy, wet shoes.

Once we’d decided that the only option was to return the BMW i3 we spent a long time trying to decide what to do in the interim while we waited for that exciting email from Tesla to say we could configure our Tesla Model 3. We had an sense that it would be sometime between November and February but apart from that, no idea. So what to do? Well, we could drive the Tesla Roadster but as winter was fast approaching we didn’t care for that as that would mean the Roadster would be subjected to all that grotty weather and all that salt! Judging by the amount of salt on the roads there must be a serious shortage somewhere. The Roadster is so unique and as the kickstarter for Tesla we want to keep it as pristine as possible.

With that option not happening, we thought long and hard about what to do, we went through all the many options of available Electric Cars on the road today. Nothing really suited our interim need, or put another way, we couldn’t agree on any of the EV options out there. Then, in a lightbulb moment, we realised that our current Smart Electric Drive expired at the end of January (3 months away), and we thought, “shall we get a new Smart Electric Drive?” We would drive it until the Tesla Model 3 arrived and if there was a delay then we do know that with Mercedes Benz we can extend the lease on the current one if needs be. Hmm, with a decision partially made, and I say partially as we hadn’t even looked at the new model yet, we went to look at one up North somewhere. We were pleasantly surprised by the facelift that the new Smart ED has had, it certainly looks a lot better, like it has much more presence on the road. It is a little bit bigger all around but inside it really is quite Tardis like. I am quite surprised by the space available, it’s not cramped at all. The battery size hasn’t increased, still 17.5kWh, and still no DC fast charging option, which is disappointing but then we don’t really need DC fast charging on this car. Deciding that it would cover our needs in the 3 month interim, we asked what cars they had coming in, as it appears you can’t spec out your own car, they just get whatever Smart Europe sends them. They did had a silver one coming in but that was just a little bit on the sparse side for us, they also had one coming in that had everything we would like – but it was red – hmm, not sure as it’s totally off brand!

We thought for a little bit and seeing as the red one was due in about the right time, we decided to go for it. There was no guarantee that one in silver with the right specs would be available anytime soon. We weren’t entirely sure about going off brand and if we’d be able to cope! We did, however, manage to get a good deal on the car, getting it reduced quite significantly – something to do with it being the month end and them needing to meet the numbers – all sounds good to me. We opted to take out a three year lease, apparently 3 months isn’t an option, as we figured that with the silver Smart being due back at the end of January, our son would take over using the red one when we got the Model 3. All good then. Apparently so!

First impressions of the Smart Electric Drive – It is so much better than the old model, it is a little bit wider and a little bit longer, it drives so much better and it feels a lot more stable on the road and, just generally feels bigger. It has had a face lift which has improved its looks significantly, it has become curvy and more fun looking. All in all quite a huge improvement. The only improvement that it is missing is a bigger battery, however, it does now charge faster than the previous model. So far we are seeing more miles than with the old model, with the first drive returning 99 miles of estimated range, that is a huge improvement on the 70 miles we see regularly on our old version. It will be interesting to see how things go and now the weather is getting colder will that number go down? I expect it will as the heater will steal some miles.

Back to January 2018

Two and a half months into driving the new Smart ED and we’ve been enjoying every minute, who knew it could be so much fun? I mean you can make a 180 degree turn in a parking space, even in our driveway!! You can park it virtually anywhere and still have space for another Smart! It has plenty of power and just does everything you ask of it – it really is the little car that can. We have seen a bit of reduction in miles with the cold weather but then at -20℃ I am not surprised, but the heater in it is great and doesn’t actually use a lot of power. The best bit though  – it has a heated steering wheel!!! Oh my goodness, why did I not know about these before? I love it, my hands are lovely and toasty.

Having the amount of fun that we were with the Smart ED, we did actually start to wonder if we needed a Tesla Model 3, after all, for our daily driving needs, the Smart ED is more than sufficient. It takes a weeks worth of shopping with ease, I think other shoppers are surprised that we can get 6 bags of shopping in the boot without any problems. It has more than enough range for the daily driving we do, so… do we really need a bigger car with longer range? That is the question. Or it was until the email arrived to say we could now configure our Tesla Model 3 – we kind of just went ahead with the order, without too much thought. But, I think that is because we would like a Tesla, not because the Smart ED isn’t offering us enough, although the range of the Model 3 is somewhat appealing. Canada anyone?

I thought I was really going to miss the i3 but to be honest I haven’t. The only thing I was missing was the rear view camera and the auto dimming mirrors, oh, and the impressive regenerative braking. I still love the fact that it was so easy to pull up exactly to the white line using just the accelerator pedal. The Smart ED doesn’t have those three features but strangely enough this new Smart ED has quite changed my mind and I actually prefer it over the BMW i3! Did I really just say that out loud??

Anyway, with the Tesla Model 3 configured to our specifications, not that there are many choices however, we did go back on brand with silver!! We chose some rather snazzy wheels for it and we picked all the options that suited us. We then sat back and waited for a delivery date, which they had approximated at 4 weeks but who really knew at that time.

We waited and kept having fun driving the Smart ED, until we finally got our delivery date of 25th January, this meant everything fell nicely into place.

On Thursday 25th January when we arrived at Tesla in Springfield NJ to pick up our car, we were taken to see the car first – very important – just in case we didn’t like it – much better to change our minds before filling in all the paperwork. They had the car on its own in their showroom behind the velvet ropes, I mean, after all you wouldn’t want just any riff-raff getting too close. It was really nice to see actually, it made it seem rather special. We did rather like the look of the car and the decision to stay on brand with silver was definitely the right choice. With that decision made we went to sign the paperwork, the boring side of getting a car. Then it was back to the car for a quick instructional on how to use it. Although one’s sidekick only wanted the basic instructions as he wants to learn and figure it out on his own. That’ll be fun apparently! Basic instructions over with and it’s time to drive.

My first impressions of driving the car, which is to say I haven’t driven it very much yet so my impressions are a little limited, but, it’s brilliant. Just what I’ve always been looking for. It’s super quiet, sits nice and low down, it sticks to the road, and with the slightest turn of the steering wheel you can feel the car move, it has excellent regenerative braking, it’s all just brilliant! Lots of learning to do with the touch screen but so far it all seems pretty intuitive. Lots more driving to be done though to get a real feel for the car – but I think I can say I am going to like it, and like it a lot! The Tesla Model 3 has given me back a rear view camera, dimming mirrors and superior regenerative braking so I guess that means that I am not missing the BMW i3 at all.

The silver Smart ED expired on the 29th January and was almost dutifully returned. But, we changed our minds at the last minute and decided to keep it to use in the snow! February is always a bad month for the worst weather. I know, it might seem daft but do I really want to take out my lovely new car in the grottiest of weather? We currently have 4 Electric Cars, for a little while at least, but then having more EV’s than you need in your driveway is nothing new to us! I think 5 is the most we have had at any one time – all I can say is you can never have too many EV’s!

Our son is now happily driving the red Smart ED – of which he has been waiting 3 long months for! – and we are happily driving the Tesla Model 3, as long as it isn’t snowing!!

But for now – Do excuse me, it has stopped raining therefore I must go out and wash the car! And so it begins again…

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