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How I almost bought an EV, but bought en electric bike instead

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Renewables International

Germany is implementing a 4,000 euro bonus on the purchase price of an electric vehicle. That would bring the price of a Renault Twizy down from 7,700 and 3,700. Who wouldn’t buy that? Me.

Today, the German government announced 1.2 billion euros in funding for electric vehicles, half of which will come from the federal government and the other half from the automotive sector itself. 300 million euros will be devoted to building charging stations; 100 million, to tax incentives. The rest is devoted to the rebate.

 So I thought I would take a look at which EV I would buy.

On a German car website, there was a nifty little overview of all the EVs currently on sale in Germany with their current purchase price with and without a 4,000 euro rebate. The first one was the two-seater Twizy for less than 4,000 euros. Man, was I ready to buy…

Honestly, I'd love to have one of these things. But at the end of the day, a rebate for electric vehicles is industry policy, not environmental policy. If it were the latter, we would simply ban gas and diesel cars (maybe starting with cities in 2025) and allow citizens to react in whatever way they want: public transportation, cycling/walking, or electric vehicles. Out of that list, EVs are the worst environmental option. Renault

Honestly, I’d love to have one of these things. But at the end of the day, a rebate for electric vehicles is industry policy, not environmental policy. If it were the latter, we would simply ban gas and diesel cars (maybe starting with cities in 2025) and allow citizens to react in whatever way they want: public transportation, cycling/walking, or electric vehicles. Out of that list, EVs are the worst environmental option. Renault

I headed straight on over to the Renault website, where I wanted to see what my new vehicle looked like. Okay, you can’t really close any windows, so in Berlin (where I’m working until October) I’m likely to have to clean out some vandalism once or twice a week if I park on the street (which I have to); essentially, the Twizy is a speedy golf cart. And there isn’t anywhere to charge around home – but I’m sure I’ll figure that out later.

The car has a range of 100 kilometers and a top speed of 80 kilometers. That’s fine for Berlin.

And then, I notice that the purchase price does not include a battery, though one can be leased. For the next six months of a fellowship at an institute, I will drive 30 kilometers to work and 30 kilometers back every day. That’s 60 kilometers a day, 300 a week, 1,200 a month.

Renault does not offer a lease to cover that much. The limit is 10,000 kilometers a year, putting me at just over 800 kilometers a month – two thirds of what I need just to get to work and back. And that lease costs 70 euros a month for one year or 60 euros a month for four years.

The specs also indicate that 6.3 kilowatt-hours of electricity will be needed for 100 kilometers. At the retail rate, that’s going to cost me around two euros. At present, I drive (gasp) a diesel and consume around 3.8 liters per 100 km for the commute. Diesel now costs just under a euro, so I am paying less than four euros per 100 kilometers – two euros more than the Twizy will cost.

I would thus save two euros per 100 km or around 24 euros for the 1,200 a month I drive. In return, I would need to spend at least 60 euros on a battery lease, producing a loss of 36 euros – and I’m still going to have to find some way to get to work a third of the time – and charge.

In short, there is no business case for electric vehicles yet. Or a convenience case.

Don’t get me wrong – I want electric mobility to work. But every few years, I look into this, and we are not there yet.

A week ago, I had the opportunity to ride in a Tesla S, and it is a fine car. It also costs nearly half as much as the apartment I am currently buying.

So I will be doing something else. The weather is getting nice here, and more than half of my commute is along a forest with no stop signs or traffic lights at all. It’s time to get on the racing bike. Until my e-bike gets here in a few weeks.

My new bicycle. E-bikes still receive absolutely no support under the German government's new plan. Instead of supporting electric vehicles, they could give everyone the option of an EV rebate or a free electric bike.

My new bicycle. E-bikes still receive absolutely no support under the German government’s new plan. Instead of supporting electric vehicles, they could give everyone the option of an EV rebate or a free electric bike. Riese und Müller

60 kilometers a day, 300 a week, 1,200 a month – until September, when my fellowship ends. The other day, I cycled 45 minutes through town and back home again, and I wished the trip had been longer. Berlin seems really dry compared to rainy Freiburg. And while some people say that jogging is meditation, for me it’s just pain. But cycling – I can do that all day. Who needs an EV, much less a car?

Germany is implementing a 4,000 euro bonus on the purchase price of an electric vehicle. That would bring the price of a Renault Twizy down from 7,700 and 3,700. Who wouldn’t buy that? Me.

Update: After a meeting yesterday with the automotive sector, the rebate will be 4.000 euros for all-electric vehicles and 3.000 euros for hybrids.

Source: Renewables International. Reproduced with permission.  

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  • It is beyond me why more people don’t ride electric bikes. They are soooooo much fun and put a smile on your face instead of the grimace most car drivers have.

    • blackandwhiteohana

      Until you get run over by a 4 wheeled vehicle…

      • To him who is in fear everything rustles. As Sophocles once said.

  • Bruce Parmenter

    The above piece is highly opinionated, and the statements are not fact but are applicable to the writer’s driving and life needs.

    Electric bicycles are a good mode of transportation, but if the writer is concerned with vandals and thieft, a bicycle is far more vunerable than a Twizy. BTW the Twizy EVs used in the UK can have doors (it gets cold there in winter too). True, just about any vehicle can be opened up (even with doors) by vandals or thieves, but the Twizy is far more less of a target than a bicycle.

    The Twizy has four wheels, the bicycle has two. Thus, the Twizy is more stable on icy roads, and you likely only slip and fall getting to or from the Twizy (just like with a fuel car).

    If a $35,000 200 mile Tesla model 3 is out of your budget, there are several other EVs of various capabilities and prices. An example is a 2014 used Leaf EV, where you could put your cycle on a rack in the back, drive to a point where you could e-bicycle around. The possibilites are endless.

    Your e-options are wide open. Just drop the dis-informational opinions, and open your mind to learning a lot more about EVs. From an Electric skateboard, to an Electric air or water craft, there are many type of EVs.

    And for those that find an EV does not work for their driving needs, perhaps a plug-in-hybrid, or just stay with your high mpg fuel vehicle. It is your choice, but go out and learn what your options are (an informed buyer makes wiser choices).

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    For EVLN EV-newswire posts use:
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  • passerby

    Really makes you wonder why there are no e-bike subsidies.