Why this Frenchman regrets buying an electric car

Mayday! Mayday!!  A Miller’s tale from La Belle France !!  Allez le diesel !!!

Here’s a guy who bought an electric car! (Article from the Spectator).

He starts out really enjoying his new car, but then…

Why I regret buying an electric car

I bought an electric car and wish I hadn’t. It seemed a good idea at the time, albeit a costly way of proclaiming my environmental virtuousness. The car cost 44,000 Euros, less a 6,000 Euro subsidy courtesy of French taxpayers, the overwhelming majority poorer than me. Fellow villagers are driving those 20-year-old diesel vans that look like garden sheds on wheels.

I order the car in May 2018. It’s promised in April 2019. No later, promises the salesman at the local Hyundai dealer. April comes and goes. No car. I phone the dealership. No explanation. The car finally arrives two months late, with no effort by Hyundai to apologise. But I Iove it. It’s quiet, quick and with the back seats down, practical with plenty of room for the dogs. It does insist on sharply reminding me to keep my hands on the steering wheel, even when they’re on it. And once alarmingly slamming on the brakes for no discernible reason.

I’ve installed a charger in my driveway so I plug the car in. It works first time! Then the boss turns on the kettle and every fuse in the house trips. The car is chargeable, but only if you don’t cook, wash clothes or turn on the dishwasher at the same time.

First road trip. Off to the centre of France with the horse-obsessed boss to watch a three-day equestrian event. I consult an app that promises an high-speed charger half way to my destination. We arrive and hunt and ultimately find the charger. It doesn’t work. Range anxiety? More like a panic attack.

We make it to the next charger on the motorway with the battery practically empty and my marriage in peril. It works! But subsequently, EDF, the French electric utility, simply shuts down its entire motorway network after discovering the chargers are not just unreliable but dangerous. In Britain, meanwhile, the Department for Transport has, I read, granted an exclusive contract to install rapid chargers at motorway service areas to a company glorying in the name Ecotricity. These turn out to be equally unreliable and very costly to use. Social networks are rapidly bombarded with complaints.

Back in France, after a two-month wait, EDF upgrades my home electricity supply. Rejoice! We can finally cook dinner and charge the car simultaneously. The little Kona is still mostly performing well. It’s fast. I could beat a sports car from a traffic light, except we have none in my corner of La France Profonde. It’s eerily quiet. But much as I attempt to defend my choice, I’m having doubts.

I meet a British couple in the supermarket car park, down for the summer, loading groceries into their electric Nissan. How was the trip down? I ask. “A nightmare” of broken charging points, they reply, bitterly. A 10-hour trip took 18 hours, with lengthy stops at low-speed chargers, often miles off the highway.

The Hyundai Kona Electric

Given the impossibility of driving much farther than the airport with the motorway charging network still shut down, I resign myself to renting cars for trips beyond a limited radius from the house.

Next, a story appears that a Kona Electric identical to mine has spontaneously combusted in a garage in Montreal, totally destroying the car and the garage itself. The battery, made of lithium, burns for hours. Still no communication from Hyundai, which is said to be investigating, according to Canadian media.

Soon, Konas are bursting into flames all over the world. Continuing silence from Hyundai other than a disingenuous recall notice for a software update. A morning at the dealership waiting for an update to the battery management software. This consists of reducing the range of the car, although that isn’t explained. But it doesn’t work since recalled Konas are continuing to explode. Meanwhile, a second recall. The cars are not just auto-carbonising but the brakes are apparently susceptible to unpredictable total failure.

New press reports from Korea say Hyundai finally admits there is a hardware problem with the Kona and it is going to replace the batteries in 80,000 of them. But continuing silence from Hyundai France and it’s the same story across Europe. I read that owners in North America are being warned not to park in the garage. Hundreds have filed a class action demanding compensation.

Complaining to Hyundai on Twitter provokes a predictable response. Please direct message us so we can assist you. Translation: please stop posting messages in public so we can try to appease you quietly. I decline to play that game.

Hyundai’s latest stunt is to announce that it’s joined the new Ionity rapid recharge network and will offer a discount to owners. I call Ionity to find out how. They tell me to call my Hyundai dealer. I talk to someone who knows nothing but promises to call me back. I’m still waiting.

The problem with electric cars is that one must suffer to be a pioneer. It’s possibly like buying a petrol car at the beginning of the 20th century except instead of a man walking in front with a red flag, you need a fire marshal in a diesel with a tow rope.

Written by Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller is the author of France, a Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Gibson Square). Twitter: @lefoudubaron


Thanks to Lyn Jenkins for this link

42 thoughts on “Why this Frenchman regrets buying an electric car”

  1. Interesting account.
    In the very early days of cars, the Detroit Electric was ideal for the downtown part of big cities. Most were sold to wealthy townies.
    Many women drove them.
    Then the the internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline was discovered to be better.

  2. LOL. That’s just brilliant.

    I can’t see long distance journey times reducing much even with more charging points as that might drive more sales so you can then spend the time waiting for the charger – then waiting to charge.

    • I see the science is settled for you. Keep paying through the nose to be late , while the rest of us continue to get there on time.

      • Sad,

        You missed the sarcasm

        Notice I said “any” Climate Change. Duh. The Climate is changing ALL THE TIME. I am sorry you missed that “clue”.

        This stupid French idiot, trying to save the planet, bought a piece of cr*ap to stop “Climate Change”. But this is the same “culture” that would do anything to kick out the Germans, and then 40 years latter welcome in a barbarian, alien, psycho culture.

        See my point?

    • I can’t wait until Climate Change Cultists finally get their way and can foist (legislate) these expensive bricks onto the general public.

      Speaking of Climate Change. We had a nearly 12 degree shift in temperature yesterday in just one day. Is there any reason to worry.

      And, tomorrow they’re predicting the same sequence of events. A rapid swing of temperature from one extreme to the other over a 12 hour period. Almost as if night follows day.

      I guess old Klaus and friends will be getting hyper rich selling rubes new electric vehicles, upgrades to the electrical infrastructure, and charging stations. But, they deserve it. Cause they’re so much better than the rest of us.

      I wonder, do aerosols from burning lithium ion batteries deplete the ozone? Not to worry. Funding for those studies don’t come until after the sheep have been sheared by those making a fortune off the Climate Crises.

      Talley Ho!

    • You should buy this electric car and let this person buy another car. Small price to pay to prevent climate change.

  3. Now think about the people like Me who live on Farms and need BIG diesel engines for POWER !!! .. now when they make an Electric Tractor that will plow the lower Forty and not cost ten x as much as diesel I may buy one.
    Until than … DIESEL POWER !

    • Electrics are waaaaaayyyyy more powerful than diesel.
      And yes.
      They do make an electric tractor that will plow the lower forty.
      John Deere makes all kinds of components and tractors that do just that.
      They can even convert your old one to electric.

    • You might want to worry more about the war on small farmers
      and ranchers. You may want to hold off on that new tractor.

  4. Its going to take decades for the infrastructure and charging points to catch up. Also electric bikes are very susceptible to the cold and will not charge properly in cold climates. Still a very very long way to go.

  5. I’m unashamedly a technologist at heart. I do believe that the way of the future is electromagnetic, in every aspect. But it has to happen when we have refined the technologies that are used. This is way off as far as I can see. I’ll be continuing with my ICE cars, possibly hybrids, until the day when electrics can actually deliver the goods.

  6. Sounds like a problem with the crummy wiring in France and a lazy dealer.

    Here in California Teslas are everywhere. Saw a 5 ton electric box van this am on the freeway.
    Bolts, Volts, Sparks, hybrids of every make and model.
    All doing great.

  7. Teslas have fried dozens of their owners, the fire happens so fast you can’t get out of the car in time!

    Who in the hell would buy a car that does that?

    BTW the hybrids like the Toyota Prius have a resell problem, they sell thousands below a gas Toyota Corrolla because most people don’t want to be faced with buying an expensive battery replacement, and if the starter goes out, the engine has to be removed and it costs $5000 as the start is also the electric motor.

    I have never bought a new car, and many of the cars I have driven are 20-30 years old, and it has made me a fair mechanic to keep my cars in running order, and it also has made me very skeptical of these hybrids and electrics which can not be worked on by a backyard mechanic – parts which may not be available.

    My favorite little econo car is the Geo Metro, which is the easiest car ever to work on, parts are dirt cheap and you can get any part on Amazon, and the car averages 52 mpg (3 cylinder/ 5 spd). If I drive it real gently it gets 75 mpg in 5th gear if I keep the speed low around 40 mph.

  8. I mean I get it – software update to get rid of some danger of spontaneously combusting batteries etc…

    Nevertheless – I still don’t want a car that needs software updates at all! My 1990’s Honda bike never needed any software update, and still rides like new. My 1990’s car also never needed any software update, doesn’t ride like new anymore – but ride it does.

    I hate where they are going with “our” machines – software updates, ffs…

  9. The major challenge will occur when ev will become a mass product.

    EV would increase the electricity consumption in most countries by 40 – 50% if all motor vehicles would be replaced 1:1. But none of the western – actually ruled by green communists – countries is investing in the grid which would require upgrades on all levels. It would require plenty additional coal, nuclear and gas power plants. It needs decades to built that many of them. The only countries prepared are China building hundreds of new coal plants and Norway with its surplus in hydropower.

    I assume it is the green vision of a poor, feudalistic society in which only a few selected will enjoy todays wealth.

  10. what will be the most fun – electric airplanes. who wants to the the first to get onboard with 250 other folks… no worries it’s only dangerous during takeoffs and landing when the solar panels on top may be obscured… lol

  11. During WW1, the French had to move troops to the front-line since the Germans had planned ahead for a quick, massive motorized assault

    This was known by all the European Powers since they kept track of military factors on each other. How hard is it to see 1 Million German troops at your border and not ask ? “C’est quoi ce bordel?…. (WFT is this all about?)

    But, the French being French, didn’t plan.

    My point? They had to use Taxis to take troops to the border. Gasoline powered Taxis. I believe this was in late Fall, Winter (1917) or Early Spring (1918). I wonder how this would have worked out if they owned goofy, stupid, Electric Taxi Cabs.

    Let us hope, today, the Wermacht doesn’t decide to invade France again. Or maybe, such an act may the best thing for France. I can imagine today they would prefer to speak German rather than Arabic.

    • And since most of the backup power for all those non-rotating windmills, most of the time, is in France, I can see why the Wermacht would invade. Would the Tigers have electric power too?

      • They were working on an Electric Messerschmitt, I assume.

        They wanted to do their part to make WW2 more Green.

  12. It seems as tho every corporation/company/government/etc… Is just trying to rip people off:

    I call the dentist to ask how much for a cleaning. They say $170, but could be $1000 if deep cleaning needed (which imagine is often)

    I buy two pairs of glasses in the year 2000 for $81. Now its $1000.

    The plumber comes out to fix my toilet flange, and says we might have to do some concrete work and that will make it over $1000 dollars.

    Same thing with the yawn sprinkler people. They say that they will have to replace a whole line, and it will cost over $1000.

    Everybody is trying to get a $1000 or more for any job. Maybe it is always been this way, but it sure seems much more prevalent these days.

    • I thought about this and “studied” this phenomena.

      Why are prices, overall, always going up, but there will be a few products that do go down in price and up in features? Like TVs and Computers. What is going on?

      Also, why expand a product line, or create better manufacturing techniques if prices still go up? Shouldn’t overall, ALL prices decrease? Should not the price of cars go down, as they did in the early FORD years when efficiency brought the price down from $850 to $250?

      I am leaving off tech improvements, but why make an improvement if it raises the price? (I am intentionally leaving out this aspect of the discussion).

      To make a very long answer short, the constant, intentional, inflation of paper money is the reason. In the late 1880’s, the wealth and bankers realized that innovation and efficiency and new technology was lowering the prices of everything, thus bankrupting the Creditor Class and value of Bonds. The rich and the bankers had to stop prices decreasing.

      It is why Morgan consolidated the rail-roads. Same with Coal, Steel and Oil, etc.. Prices in money (gold and silver) would always go down as tech and efficiency and economy of scale increased in this novel economic concept called Free Enterprise Capitalism. It was new and shocking and something had to STOP prices decreasing, (in gold and silver coin).

      Trade agreements and Associations were tried, but failed. Consolidation or Partnerships were tried, but failed, until Monopoly of an entire industry succeeded in stopping price drops. The Robber Barons had no choice but to form a Monopoly or all would go bankrupt eventually.

      So, your dentist and lawn guy HAVE TO RAISE prices to offset the intentional rampant paper money inflation. There is no efficiency left in fixing your sprinklers…..We are soon going to see increases in your big screen TV and computers since they are now a mature product and have little left of production costs to squeeze out.

  13. Probably should not adopt most new technologies until they have been in general use for 5 or 10 or maybe more years. It takes that long to work out bugs or to see if the technology is really viable. Never be a first adopter.
    It’s just the same as something sold only on TV – wait until Walmart offers it, then you can be pretty sure that it is OK.

  14. Charlie is right on! Back in ’79 I built a large pool in Westwood, Los Angeles. I was the very first person to install solar panels replacing gas heat. The cost was prohibitive, even given the tax breaks. In ’83 I finally decided to install a regular gas heater, since solar heating was incredibly inefficient. The amount of $$ I spent was off the charts. NEVER try to be a pioneer with new technology, never.

    • How did we get cars without Government subsidies, back around 1900?

      The rich bought them. They were toys. They were status symbols. The Vanderbilt Family bought them to drive around on their Estates.

      1895 George Vanderbilt finished Biltmore. It had refrigeration. Did he get any Income Tax Credits? No. He paid for it.

      Same with:
      Air Conditioning
      Air Line Travel (but heavily subsidized by Air Mail)
      Movies, “talkies” and air conditioning.
      Telephones (Yes, the Gov did consolidate the Utilities, but even in the beginning they were all privately owned.)

      If the people want it, Rich and Poor, they will pay for it just fine without forcing money out of those who don’t want it.

      Everything was subsidized by the Rich and then, with mass production, filtered down to the rest of us. That is how it was done.

  15. I like to hedge my bets, in the market and in life.
    I just bought a 2021 Prius Prime. I think the Prime is the sweet-spot vehicle for the next decade or so. Enough electric range for around town, and just keeps on going on gas when that runs out.

    I had a bumper sticker made for a buck online that says “It’s not a statement, it’s just my car.” I hope that might dissipate a bit of the rage here in my southern community against any Prius in general. I see quite a few “I’m burning the gas your Prius saves” type stickers on the back of F250s with one person in them, and I think great, go for it, release all of that lovely CO2 plant food. At their expense of course. My 2 cents per mile electricity cost equals gas at $1.20 / gal. That figures in my 60+ MPG in hybrid mode. It would equal 60 cents a gallon vs most cars. And yes, I will get a few thousand dollars “incentive” off of my taxes next year. It’s nice to get my little share of government malinvestment, but it’s not why I bought it.

    I bought it because I am old enough to remember “The Gas Crisis”, the artificially engineered “shortage” almost 50 years ago to allow a price bump. With the crazy supply line disruptions that are working their way through our economy now, I like knowing that I have 30 miles of driving available as long as I have electricity to my home. That’s enough for my typical shopping run to town and back with a few miles to spare. 5 hours later I can do it again.

    I read that there may be spot shortages of gas this summer due to the lack of tanker drivers of all things. No problemo…

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