I would like to replace my car with an EV (electric vehicle), or more precisely a battery electric vehicle (BEV). My problem is mostly twofold: I don’t want to move backwards in terms of comfort/convenience/features versus my current ICE (internal combustion engine) car, and the market is evolving at a pace which makes something significantly better “just around the corner”. What I don’t know is how much this is a just-me thing, and how much of it is shared in the wider techthusiast community, so I thought I’d share my thoughts and see if anyone wanted to jump in here, or privately.
I guess the first question worth answering is “why get an EV” at all? Well it’s not all positive, I do like the way my ICE car sounds both when it starts up, and winds out. It’s also really hard to argue with the way that established infrastructure has made ICE so convenient, especially in rural areas; where charging stations can thin on the ground. But there are considerations that I think outweigh my personal preferences there; mostly around how I think those who can afford to be an early adopter should behave, to both act responsibility now, and for future generations in our society.
- Home charging convenience, no more filling up the gas tank in the cold/rain/nasty weather
- Generally cheaper both from a fueling and maintenance perspective
- I won’t feel bad pre-warming the car on especially cold days
- Greenshaming my friends and neighbors (this is mostly meant as a joke… mostly)
- I like gadgets. BEVs are the ultimate cool gadget, or at least some of them are. Who wants to play the efficiency game?
We currently have two ICE cars that could be on the table for replacement. I haven’t had a detailed conversation with my wife about her preferences there, so it’s quite possible that the one that is “hers” could make the most sense to replace (we both prefer to drive “my” car). So maybe I wouldn’t have to give up the happy-noise thing; her car doesn’t sound as nice :). That said, “her” car is the workhorse in the family, so the list of must-haves will be longer for a BEV that gets the nod for that car, than mine.
Also, because we have two ICE cars now, it’s not absolutely critical that I nail every, single, requirement in whatever vehicle we end up with. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to get it right, or am willing to compromise too much in the selection process.
We have pretty nice cars, so this might come off as a white-whine, but TBH I don’t really care because I have a really hard time seeing this as just a “me” problem. If you want people to change behavior you need to entice them. Hoping for White Knights is not a winning strategy at the macro level. Yes, there are lots of people out there who value EV over everything else, and those people will probably have a hard time understanding my prattle, but hey, this post is not for them :).
Breaking down one of my “moving backwards” concerns: I’m just shy of 6’2″ (187cm) tall, which means that quite a few cars just don’t fit right. Here’s an example of what I mean.
This is a screenshot of a 186cm reviewer sitting in a Tesla Model Y. First off, we can see that the seating position isn’t great, that could be how he has it set up, so we’ll ignore it. The more critical issue is the total lack of thigh support. This will not be a comfortable car for me on long journeys; not that I would buy a Tesla in the first place, because of their overwhelming hostility towards their users. This is a very common problem in a lot of cars, and frankly, it doesn’t make sense to me to buy a car that I know I will need to suffer to own. Unfortunately, it is a problem in the car I was really hoping would be the one.
Other considerations include: drivability (aka decent handling and performance), affordability, no uglies, a tow hitch, and seating for five.
Convenience also plays a role here as well because it removes most of the BEVs with less than 300 miles of range. I work from home, cycle a lot, live in a fairly walk-able community, so I don’t tend to drive that much; only ~5,000 miles a year. BEVs are awesome around town, especially in the winter. The problem is that many of the miles I drive come from road trips, which is were the BEV vs ICE convenience problem comes into play. I am willing to suffer a little, don’t really have a choice, when it comes to charging, but there are quite a few trips where anything less than 300 miles of claimed range would make the trip very inconvenient (~2x the trip time), or potentially impossible.
Another factor here, and this is more a “new player” problem. Quite a few of the more interesting fresh entrants in the BEV market (not that I could swing a Lucid) don’t support Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. The why they don’t support them doesn’t really matter, that they don’t does, because while flawed, they are just so convenient. I could make it work, for the right car, but that could mean changing my streaming music provider (the horror), and quite possibly taking a huge step backwards in telephony convenience in the car; which is a safety issue as well.
This isn’t just a BEV problem, but it’s especially pointed in the BEV market right now. Traditional car OEMs are finally getting their Titanics turned towards the EV market, so there are some really interesting cars coming in late 2022, 2023, and beyond.
Also the solid state battery thing, which could dramatically change the charging speed problem, are “just around the corner”. I would imagine solid state batteries could have a impact on the value of cars using current battery tech, it will definitely have a convenience impact. How much value impact? Really hard to say. This is much further down the level of concern scale, but I’m throwing it in here to be thorough.
Joining the Queue?
Where does that leave me? Well, the closest BEV to what I want is a Rivian R1S. It’s not perfect in a lot of ways (poor relative efficiency and no Android Auto being the main problems), but I think I could live with it. So why haven’t I joined the queue? Let me share some questions (Q)/answers (A) from an email exchange I had with one of their reps a couple days ago. I have made some formatting changes, and added some thoughts (T) that I did not send back to them:
Q: If I pre-order one within the next couple of weeks, roughly when would it be scheduled for delivery?
A: To start, if you preordered today, we would not be able to give you a delivery window right away. However, in early 2022 we are introducing a new feature on your Rivian Account Page that will display your current delivery timing estimate.
T: Based on what I’ve found from various aggregates of people sharing their order/delivery data on the Internet, the answer is roughly two years. Yeah, two years. Given what’s happening in the EV market now, there will be massive change in the number, and quality of options available in the next two years. Does it makes sense for me to hand Rivian $1,000 for the maybe, could be, quite possible chance to buy a car from them in two years that unless they make a bunch of upgrades will be outdated/legacy tech on the day I hand them $75,000? Hmm… that’s a hard one… well, not really, the answer is “no”… It does not make sense in any way, shape, or form to join the queue for a Rivian. Acknowledging that it’s not a hard commitment, the $1,000 should be fully refundable, just don’t see the point. This is a problem I would like to fix before two years from now.
Q: Is there a “dog mode” for the temperature control? Are there plans to add a top view to the cameras when backing up (if it hasn’t already been added)? Early reviewers noted this is not present, and it’s very handy :). Are there plans to add support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto? (I didn’t lump these together in my email, but the response did so…)
A: We do not have dog mode at this time, but this could be added through over-the-air updates. This is the same for Apple Carplay and Android Auto, we do not currently offer them, but this could be offered through over-the-air updates.
T: So… “no”. No plans, but please sign up, and hope.
Q: If not, what streaming services are supported by the infotainment system?
A: You’ll have access to audio streaming with Spotify, TuneIn, and Alexa-powered Amazon Music + Audible.
T: That sucks. Remind me again why you don’t have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, cause, you know that removes the need for me to ask this question…
Q: Is there a subscription fee to keep the mobile data service that the streaming services use working? If so, how much is it?
T: Did they forget to answer this one, or is it off-script to talk about how they are going to charge, but don’t disclose the way this works, or the fee anywhere I could find?
Q: I’ve seen some mention of a larger battery available “later”. What is the anticipated release date?
A: I apologize but we do not have a time frame that the longer-range R1S will be available but if you put in a configuration now, you can change it when it becomes available.
T: This is the “400 mile” battery. I don’t think I’d opt for it, the reported cost is $10k, and I don’t really need 400 miles of range, but I thought it would be interesting to ask the question.
Q: If I have a 240v outlet in my garage already, what are the advantages of the Rivian Charger (is this mainly for outdoor installations)?
A: The advantage you would have from getting a Rivian Wall Charger would be it connects to Wi-Fi and makes over-the-air updates seamless. Also, the Wall Charger can charge up to 25 miles of range per hour and the portable charger will deliver up to 16 miles of range using a 240v outlet.
T: Did somebody say Wi-Fi!?! More, faster, range is nice, but I’m not sure that would matter very much at home.
Q: If opting for the 5 seat layout, is there additional underfloor storage where the seats would have gone?
A: If you opt for the 5-seater R1S you will have cargo storage.
T: Umm… that didn’t really answer the question…
Q: If not-opting for the compact spare, is there a full size spare? Where is the spare tire located?
A: The R1S would only come with the compact spare tire that would be in an underfloor storage area at the rear of the R1S. If you do not choose to get the compact spare this area can be used as extra storage.
T: It sounds like they said that if you don’t opt for the $450 compact spare, there is no spare tire.
So I’m stuck in a place where I can’t get the car I want, and I don’t want anything I could get in a reasonable time frame. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem that needs solving with any urgency, because I own my car, but it is something that would be nice to sort out instead of revisiting every few months to end up back in the same place. EV paralysis.