The interest in and the offer of electrically powered vehicles have increased enormously in the past year. In 2020, one in five (20.5%) registered company cars was electrified (15.3% hybrid engines and 5.3% fully electric engines). The market share of fully electric vehicles grew from 1.6% to 3.4% in 2020, thanks mainly to companies and the self-employed. This trend will undoubtedly continue in 2021 and the years to come. Just look at the offerings at virtual motor shows and the accompanying advertisements.
Although many drivers are still uncertain and have questions about the quality and range of an electrically powered vehicle, we have launched an initiative at Alphabet to remove these doubts. We have namely set up a MINI electric car as a test vehicle within the company. This allowed our employees to take a few days to experience for themselves what electric driving actually means - and above all, to introduce them to the pleasure it brings.
Below are some of the reactions of Alphabet employees who took a few days to test the MINI-E.
Interview with Tamara V.L.
What sort of experience was electric driving for you?
“I was pleasantly surprised by electric driving, and after the weekend was over, I left the car in the car park with real regret. The brakes engaging when I took my foot off the accelerator took some getting used to, but you adapt quickly. The choice of driving mode makes driving even more enjoyable, and you can also adjust it depending on the route. I felt more peaceful in an electric car because I didn’t hear engine noises and the like in the background.”
How did you deal with the range of the car?
“Before the test drive, I thought that the limited range would cause me some stress, but on the contrary, I didn’t have to factor it in at all. To me, an electric car seems ideal for the short distances that I drive every day, taking into account the energy generated when braking.”
Did you ever feel that you didn’t have enough battery to cover the distance?
“Because of the short distances, I always had enough battery. I charged the car for short periods where possible.”
How did you charge the car?
“It was at a public charging station each time, since I’m not able to charge it at home.”
When you charged the car at a public charging station, how did it work? Did you plan it?
“Since there are no charging stations available within walking distance, I had to plan for any charge I made. Using the menu, it was very convenient to find the nearest available charging station. I combined charging with a morning walk in the park, and during our weekly long walk we also looked for a charging station in the area. I did notice that it’s easier to find an available charging station outside the city, even though there are fewer of them. You can tell that more and more people in the city are driving electric.”
Would you consider driving an electric car full-time? If so, why, and if not, why not?
“Because of the short distances I drive every day, an electric car is ideal for me. The only downside is that there is no charging station available within walking distance of my home, but it can be requested through the municipality (although this is currently on hold for Antwerp until 2021). Another solution could be a PHEV, but I’ve seen through my partner’s experience that the driving range of those vehicles is much shorter. So I would prefer an all-electric car.”
Anything else you’d like to say about your electric driving experience?
“I enjoy driving with good music in the background. Electric driving was even more peaceful for me and it was a pleasure to drive the car. A ride in the electric car is ideal for de-stressing after a busy, hectic day.”
Responses from other employees
“It was great fun to drive a fully electric car. Especially thanks to the smooth torque from the moment you switch it on - it’s a pleasure to drive. Passengers who rode with me were also impressed. At first it felt strange that it could only travel 175 km on a full charge, and this did give me some range anxiety, especially over longer distances. In any case, there would be less anxiety if I had a charging station at home. But since I live in the centre of Antwerp, there are enough charging points, and one was always immediately available. I’d prefer to use the MINI-E as a second car, rather than the only one, because as a family, we have to be able to make many long journeys to see relatives. But it’s the ideal car for driving short distances in the city.” - Antoni J.
“The car itself is great. You have to get used to the ‘sailing’, but you quickly get the hang of it. It’s really a shame that there are still not enough public charging points. According to the car’s GPS, there are many charging points in Antwerp, but unfortunately they are almost impossible to find. Fortunately, you do have the private car parks with charging points. Our country’s governments are promising to install a lot of charging points. It’s high time to put words into action! To me, the range was fine; even in sport mode I had enough range and no range anxiety. If you make sure that you always charge when the car is parked, the range is more than enough. I would definitely consider buying an electric car if I had a charging point at home and if there were more public charging points.” - Katelijne D.W.
“Electric driving was a great experience for me! The MINI-E is also a super eager and smooth car with no annoying noise. You have enough range as long as you don’t take the motorway too much, because then you will see your capacity drop - I got a bit stressed actually. I would definitely choose an electric car as a second car and when I know I’ll be able to recharge at work. Otherwise, commuting back and forth would be a bit tense...” - Linde V.W.
“Electric driving was very different for me than what I’m used to. The MINI-E also responds very quickly, which is nice if you’re trying it out, but if you can’t handle it properly, I think it’s a bit dangerous. I didn’t have to charge the car during my test period, which was a pleasant surprise. The battery proved to be more than enough for my daily use. Since we live in a terraced house with no driveway or garage, charging at home isn’t that easy for us. This is the biggest reason for our reluctance (and possibly for many others) to choose an EV as our next family car. If these restrictions did not exist, I’d be glad to opt for an electric car, since my partner and I were both impressed by the driving comfort of the car.” - Tinne V.