My off-grid weekend in an EV proved that my friends are idiots

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s like to live with an EV recently. Doing what I do, I often get friends asking me what car they should buy. I always give stellar advice that would save my friends money, time, and get them a great car for their needs. Do they ever follow my advice? No, no they don’t.

With the ever present climate doom, I try to make as many people as I can consider an electric car, so they can make an impact and be ahead of the adoption curve. Soon they won’t have a choice, as going electric will be the only option. None of this seems to motivate them right now, though.

Let me put you in my shoes. The conversation I have with my never ending stream of help-seekers usually goes something like this:

  • Them: “Hey Matt, I’m going to buy a new car. What should I get?”
  • Me: “What do you need the car for? How much do you drive? And what’s your budget?”
  • Them: “I drive 10 miles to work every day, to the shops at weekends, and to Scotland a couple of times a year. We just had a child, so we want something safe, and spacious. We’ve got about $500 a month.”
  • Me: “Have you considered something electric?”
  • Them: “Oh I would love electric! But they’re just no good right now, there are no chargers, we won’t be able to drive to Scotland, and they’re just too expensive.”
  • Me: “So what were you going to buy before you asked me?”
  • Them: “<insert something generic, and probably German>
  • Me: Heavy sigh “Ok… But hear me out…”

And so it goes on.

I proceed to bestow the benefits of electricity, how it will save them money in the long run. I then remind them that renting a large comfortable car for those long but very infrequent drives is an option, one that will still be cheaper than owning a petrol SUV long term. Likewise, I laud them for how they’d be making an investment in their child’s future by being slightly kinder to the environment. Rarely have I been able to get through to them. The people are still stuck in their ways.

But do my friends have a point? Are they (the EVs, not my friends) a pain to live with? Or are my friends more stubborn than I care to admit?

In this long read we’ll find out if they do have a point. We’ll also see what it’s like to drive and charge an EV, whether range anxiety is real, and what’s up with Android Automotive.

Seeing for myself

I’ve been lucky to drive quite a few electric cars over the past 8 years, and yet I’ve never actually lived with one. It seems the only way to find out what that is like is to do it for real for a week, take it on a road trip, put as many miles on it as I can, and see for myself: the truth.

Naturally, I gave our friends over at Polestar a call, and after a bit of prodding, they finally caved and agreed to lend me a Polestar 2 for a week. What a lucky boy I am. There were no restrictions or expectations, they simply gave me the official owner’s handover at their Amsterdam store, helped me set up my Google account with Android Automotive, left me with the keys, and pointed me to the open road.

Polestar 2 picture
Credit: M Beedham