Sorry for the delay but works been somewhat manic over the past week and trying to find time to do the write up has been a little tricky anyway here goes .......
Test Drive report on the Citroen EVie
First impressions were good, the vehicle looked just like any regular 2 door small car, I wont go into details of the car or quality of the fittings as they can all be found if you search any of the normal car review web sites, at the end of the day its a normal C1 that’s just had an electric motor and batteries popped into it, which is what I am interested in and I’m sure you.
To start with I unplugged it and was somewhat disappointed in the fact the charge plug has no cover or locking device on it, this means anyone could unplug the vehicle after you leave it. Basically they have reused the old petrol filler cap (in fact it still had the sticker saying unleaded) and then fitted a standard caravan type 3pin blue plug into it but as its not recessed enough you can not close the door to secure it, but then if it was recessed that far its doubtful if you would be able to grip it to remove it. Moving on to the cable it looked to be a Elektromotive yellow spiral cable which I find very good, robust, highly visible, looks attractive and is unlikely to cause any problems.
Having unplugged it I hopped in to look around the interior, the only thing that looked slightly out of place was what looked like a small aftermarket Curtis style energy meter on the side of the speedo pod giving energy left in a % and a row of 5 LED lights, 3 green, 1 yellow, 1 red and 1 other red one with a spanner symbol. Otherwise all looked normal it even had a regular gear stick but no sign of a clutch pedal which was confusing to start with, was it manual without a clutch or automatic ?
A quick read of the somewhat sparce instruction book reveiled that to go forward you pushed the gear stick to the left and forward, neutral was in the middle, and reverse was to the right and back. Now while it didn’t take a great deal of time to work it out I really don’t understand why they didn’t remove the gear stick all together and just have a switch on the dash. The shifting feels awkward and clunky and for a normal driver just having a regular gear stick in their peripheral vision I would think keeps nagging them that they could be in a regular car with gears, even the use of a automatic PRND type stick would have been better I feel.
So I turned on the ignition and the dash lights up like normal as did the energy meter, although this only read 97% which after what I thought was a day or so charging didn’t seem good (after contacting the company they are sending an engineer to check the BDI unit). As most EV’s all you could hear was just various motors whizzing away in the front but overall it was very quiet.
So after negotiating the whole gear forward reverse neutral thing with the gear shift lever I selected forwards, this did seem odd but I suppose you would get use to it like anything else.
I applied the throttle and away I went just like a regular car. Being an AC drive it does make it exceptionally quiet and smooth, as with all EV’s the take off speed is very good and performance to 30mph is very spritely and certainly for regular town driving and pulling onto a busy roundabout presented little problems although it did appear to run out of puff beyond 30mph. However after 40mph it seemed to get a second wind and pushed on very well to 55mph and eagerly wanted to press on to 60mph, although without any form actual instant output meter you have no way really of judging how much of a drain your putting on the Li-PO batteries, a really big oversight I feel.
Our vehicle at the time didn’t appear to have any regen braking which for myself coming from a Berlingo, which has good regen braking did seem tricky, but it did coast very well, possibley due to the extra weight, although the lack of regen did seem to reduce the range as overall we only managed to get 45miles range out of it on this run but then we didn’t appear to start at 100% charge?
On contacting the company I was informed that the regen braking is very subtle and had been turned down due to complaints of it being too agressive, personally I felt it wasn’t actually working.
As I drove around I watched the energy meter carefully as it did seem to take a bit of a dive rather quickly and very soon the digits where going down to 75% and then 65% but we hadn’t travelled that far just 10 or so miles but then appeared to level out and was more uniformed there after, this may be normal or due to it not starting off at 100%.
One thing that must be mentioned is the fact that once you get to 25% capacity it then goes into limit mode, this reduces the speed to a maximum of 30mph, however performance is not limited and while you are unable to exceed this speed (even downhill ) pulling away performance is not reduced.
At 15% it then apparently reduces to 15mph, I never got to that point as I was back at base by then so cannot verify what this is like or if pulling away performance is limited as well.
Upon my return because I was below 25% you MUST put the vehicle back on charge within 20mins or according to the user manual this can damage the batteries, presumably normal procedure with Li-PO batteries as in your not allowed the voltage to drop off too much or they just die.
I tried a few what I would classify as small hill climbs and found the performance to be somewhat disappointing considering its suppose to have a 30kw motor, it almost felt like the BMS was limiting the output from the batteries and thus holding it back, which in theory is quite likely but I had hoped for a bit more from it, but without any form of actual instant power usage its hard to know whats going on.
To be honest I really need to go back to the same hill a few times and try it in the Berlingo to see how that performs to get a real feel of its performance but it didn’t seem to want to do much more than 25mph up it ?
The conversion itself has been done nice and neatly with nothing really looking out of place apart from the charge door not being able to close when its on charge. The charger seems to be located in the spare wheel area which does of course mean you have no spare wheel and have to carry a bottle of tyre inflator with sealer in it and hope this will get you back. The top areas under the bonnet are covered by what looks like Carbon Fibre sheeting giving it a high tech look and there is a nice sprinkling of high voltage stickers around and about. I did find when going over bumps there was a sort of noise from something under/in the car, it felt as though something was just not quite as tight as it should have been, be that a battery pack or just cabling but looking around I couldn’t see anything obvious.
This is the motor at the front .....
View from under the passenger side showing what looks like a battery box under the rear seats
Rear veiw showing the spare wheel holder which I think now contains the charger and possibley more batteries
The boot area where the spare wheel would normally be there is a metal plate now secured over this under which I think is the charger, there is some carpet that covers this which I removed to see what was there.
Rounding things up I think its a very able little electric car and certainly the best you can actually go out and buy now in the new car stakes, yes there are a few issues I found, lack or low of regen does make it a little un-nerving to start with, not getting to 100% charge but I think this is a fault on this one, having no actual output meter I think is a huge oversight and could mean people will try to drive it beyond its limits which in turn will result in lower range etc. The fact the charge door cannot be secured shut when its on charge is a shame, the aftermarket Curtis style energy meter does look a little like an after thought on the dash, a better owners instruction manual wouldn’t go a miss but apart from these minor issues its definitely a vehicle I would buy, and for £18k I think its good value when you think the recharge costs are so small, and don’t forget the grant that will be available which could see a £5k rebate on the car.
As this is a pool vehicle I’m hoping to be able to make this a long term test and will be able to report on reliability and general ownership, and how others find the vehicle, so far it has got the thumbs up from all that have driven it.
Finally we have a what I would say is a proper 4 seater electric car you can buy now and drives at decent speed which doesn’t look out of place on the road and is a reasonable price.
If anyone has any questions fire away and I'll do my best to answer them.