|12-22-19, 12:31 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Sunny Florida
Thanked 83 Times in 73 Posts
2019 VW e-Golf (BEV)
Back in the summer, I ran across a thread on one of the forums I frequent about the deals people were getting buying 2019 VW e-Golfs. At first, I was a bit skeptical that these deals really existed for ordinary humans in America. However, I did some research, and determined that the deals really did exist.
A bit of back story, there are Ford guys, Chevy guys, Dodge guys, Toyota guys, Jeep guys, myself I've always been a VW guy. Mainly because I have never been able to justify owning a Porsche. Years ago, a good friend of mine (and electrical engineer) had a first gen Nissan Leaf. She loved that car, until the day the hail storm totaled it! In her words, you never put gas in it, you never have to change the oil, you just drive it, and plug it in at the house. She did describe a time or two when the last adult to park it, forgot to plug it in, and left the next one hanging looking for a charger or outlet. But for the most part, she had no negatives to share about owning a car that never needed fuel.
Since 2006, my wife and I have had VW's powered by diesels. Our cars got 38mpg city and 45+mpg highway (when not dragging a trailer). These weren't the cheating ones. The ones we had were built before ULSD (Ultra Low Surfur Diesel) hit American fuel pumps, and before VW began gaming the system. If you'd been driving like grandma in our cars for 20 or 30 miles, and tromped on them, they'd spit a cloud of carbon soot like a good old Mercedes 300D did back in the 1980's. Early last spring, my wife's 2006 was totaled in an accident, and was replaced by a 2013 VW TDI with the revised engine programming for their now "Clean Diesels". Her car was bought back by VW from it's original Texas owner, and sat in some parking lot for years before the scandal was over. Then, because it had just 52k miles on it, it was reflashed with their latest fuel mapping programs, and resold to us as a used certified pre-owned VW. I was amazed when we bought it that the tail pipe is shiny and clean on the inside. Ten thousand miles later, her tailpipe is still that way, which amazes me. After having her TDI, my TDI, and a company car that was also a 2006 TDI, you couldn't drive any of them gently enough, long enough to keep the inside of the tailpipe as clean as they are on my wife's 2013 with 52k miles on it. That left me driving the last sooty diesel in the driveway. When I changed jobs last spring, I shortened my commute down to 1.5 miles each way. My commute was so short, my little diesel was never getting up to operating temperature, or getting past the worst emissions an engine can make.
I'd looked at alternative transport options: electric bikes, things like segways, One-wheels, electric skateboards and other electric mobility devices capable of zipping the 1.5 miles to my office without breaking a sweat. Most were not technically "legal" to operate on a sidewalk, since it's a motorized device. Also keep in mind, my weather climate is on the fringe of being in the tropics. It's December 21st and my home A/C is still set to COOL, not Heat. Our forecast high for tomorrow December 22nd is 77°F, and that's "normal". It's presently 74° and 66% relative humidity outside at 11PM. Where I live is Hot and Humid, 10 months out of the year. In the summer, it frequently stays above 80°F at night, and frequently rains in the afternoon. As a result, most of the open air electric mobility options were difficult to justify given the climate I'd be commuting in.
In 2015, VW started selling an all-electric VW Golf in the US in ten select states. The 10 select states were seemingly not chosen at random, or chosen based on the median household income of those states. The 10 states appear to have been chosen based on their air quality standards. I've traveled to and worked in mainland China. I know the importance of air quality, and know it really should matter to all of us, not just the people who reside in those lucky 10 states, or the people who live down wind of them. This all-electric VW Golf rolls off the same assembly line as gasoline and diesel powered VW Golfs. It's just an "electric" model. (because America doesn't get their gas/electric Hybrid the Golf GTE). As I was cruising the internet one evening last winter, I stumbled upon the local "Off Lease" used car dealer offering used 2015 VW e-Golfs with anywhere from 16k to 35k miles on these three year old cars. As the year progressed, 2016 cars showed up. The prices they were asking weren't "too bad", when you figure you never have to put gas in these cars, or change the oil. However, being over a thousand miles from the nearest state where these cars were offered for sale or lease, left us with offerings of the basic "base model" cars with no frills that were obviously cheap at the off lease auctions. None of the half dozen or more cars the off lease dealer had as I watched their inventory came with the option of "DC Fast Charging". Being early cars (2015-2016 model year), they came with 24kWh (85 mile) battery. In 2017, VW utilized a different battery design, and managed to increase the vehicle's capacity to 35kWh (~125mi range). With the increased capacity, they also increased the output of the drive motor which increased the acceleration ability of the car. These aren't Tesla Dual Motor quick cars. An electric VW Golf is not even Chevy Bolt quick, nor does it have the range of a Bolt. These are niche cars built for commuters, and Europeans who pay crazy costs for fuel. With a 120 mile range, some Americans would have "Range Anxiety", and I totally understand that. Despite the number of Tesla's on the road in South Florida, there is not a great network of non-Tesla charging stations down here. About the time I was negotiating my deal on my car, the governor was making press statements saying the state of FL was going to use some of their VW Dieselgate settlement money to install EV chargers along the Florida Turnpike which runs up the middle of the state. My wife and I test drove a 2016 off lease vehicle with 16k miles, and less than 5 miles into the test drive, the woman I married looked at me and said "You should get one, this is really cool! I didn't think I'd like it, but this is the perfect car for your commute!"
The true concept and feeling of real range anxiety hit the weekend my car was delivered. I had it shipped 1000 miles via enclosed transport, and it arrived the weekend Hurricane Dorian was 70 miles away destroying the island of Abaco and Grand Bahama! Meanwhile, I just got handed the keys to a car that says on it's optimistic dashboard that it can drive 136 miles before it needs to be recharged?? Having refueled both of our diesel vehicles and refilled my four 5 gallon cans with diesel. I literally could have loaded those cans in the car, and my wife and I could have driven both of our diesels as far as eastern Tennessee without needing to stop to buy fuel! Range anxiety is not a thing when you drive a car that gets 45mpg on the highway. I usually need to stop and eat, or use a restroom, hours before the car is needing fuel. Yet the weekend a Category 5 hurricane is less than 100 miles from my house, I took delivery of a car that can't go 150 miles without needing to stop and recharge?? I couldn't even drive it 150 miles west of my house to the other coast of Florida to "evacuate" without having to abandon it in a random parking lot with no known way of recharging it!! What have I done!!
Fast forward three months: We're out of hurricane season (finally), The storm never came ashore here, thankfully! I've gotten more used to this battery gauge that never reads more than 150-160 miles of range remaining. Yet, most weeks I make my commute to work all week without having to recharge my car. I purchased a Level 2 7.2kW charger (the biggest capacity the car will handle, short of DC Fast Charging, which mine can do), and yet most weeks I get by using the little dinky 120V Level 1 charger that adds 4 miles of range per hour to the car, and that's fine!! I'm putting about 500 miles on it per month. I'm getting anywhere from 4.2mi/kW to 4.5mi/kW, but since our electric rates are crazy low ($0.13/kWh [all in]), its costing me about $16 per month in electricity to recharge the car. Refueling my diesel was running ~$44 per month (on average), and absolutely none of the diesel was "clean" for the environment. At least a fraction of what I use to power this car comes from sunshine falling on my house (with our existing 4.4kW PV array), or sunshine the grid provider is using with their numerous 75MW solar farms. My goal is to add another 5.6kW of grid tied solar in our backyard to offset the rest of the energy our little suburban all electric house consumes. That array upgrade should leave me with an excess 2MWh of PV generated energy per year, which equates to 8,400 miles at 4.2mi/kWh. That's technically more than I'm currently driving... So, if I upgrade my PV array, I get free fuel for the new car...
A picture is worth 1,000 words, and I'm already more than 1000 words into this essay. So, here's a photo:
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a local guy selling some Audi wheels which nicely set my little EV apart from it's siblings. Time will tell how much of a range drop these wheels cost. The tires are wider, the wheel and tire combo are heavier than the originals, and these are NOT low rolling resistance tires. For now, they were inexpensive, and came with tires included. So, testing them to see if I lose any significant range will only cost me if I can't sell the wheels for what I have invested in them, which isnt' much. I already touched up the curb rash on two of them, so they look better than when I bought them for a great price. So, that should help with resale, if I needed. Here's the new wheels I put on it today.