Your AAA Network

Test Drive: Watts up, Doc?

In the future, cars with gasoline-powered engines will be replaced by those propelled by electric motors and battery packs. Here are two ways to get a feeling for that future today.

Test Drive: BMW I3

(Photo: BMW)

Some folks are naturally chatty. If you’re one of them and enjoy striking up conversations with complete strangers, it’s a safe bet you’ll like the BMW i3.

The reason is simple: This compact hatchback’s extraterrestrial golf cart styling is unique enough that even people who don’t know anything about cars are likely to comment on it.

BMW has poured some serious cutting-edge technology into it, starting with the body formed out of lightweight carbon fiber. Engine models include a choice between a battery-only powertrain and one with a tiny two-cylinder gasoline engine, referred to as a range-extender, that serves only to recharge the car’s batteries.

On the road, this combination of advanced materials and zippy electric drivetrain make the i3 more entertaining than you might expect.

While the BMW i3 is not a one-size-fits-all transportation solution, it makes a fine way to get around. Not to mention being a great icebreaker.

Test Drive: Chevrolet Bolt

Ask most people about buying an all-electric car and you’re likely to hear a list of excuses. Well, the Chevrolet Bolt takes those arguments and negates them one-by-one.

First of all, they are not slow. The electric motor propelling this compact hatchback delivers power instantaneously the moment you step on the accelerator. It’s not a stretch to say the Bolt feels quick.

Driving range is another common anxiety. The Environmental Protection Agency lists range on a full charge at 259 miles, which should get most anybody through their day. Recharging takes about nine hours from a normal 240-volt household-style outlet, and a fraction of that time from Level 2 or 3 chargers.

The final hurdle for most people is the price tag. While the Bolt isn’t cheap, dealer incentives and government rebates can bring the price down.

All of which makes the Chevrolet Bolt a lot more attractive than you might have thought.

Looking for a new ride? Check out more car reviews at AAA.com/TestDrive.

Comments
  • Michael S.

    Normal household current is 115 volts not 240. How much is it to bring a 240 volt line into your garage? Forget to plug in your car ? Then you’ll have range anxiety for sure. Unless you can take a day off while your batteries recharge. Going on a long trip??? Plan an extra day each way to charge your batteries. Long recharge times are a very real fact. That and the fact electric cars are more expensive.
    Electric cars, not for everyone

    Reply
  • stephanie l.

    i am up for a new car in 2 years and plan on buying the electric hyandai or kia suv versions. my father in law has a ford electric car and has a standard plug for it to use in anyones garage. I have solar panels on the house and might add more to account for the additional usage. i’m assuming the technology will be better by then also. I plan on only using my car around town. we use my husbands regular minivan for long haul trips to visit inlaws.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Comments are subject to moderation and may or may not be published at the editor’s discretion. Only comments that are relevant to the article and add value to the Your AAA community will be considered. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enter Your Log In Credentials
Larger version of the image
Send this to a friend