This experience and entry is brought to you by EV Society member, Yee Tan.
During the start of the pandemic, back in March 2020, I coincidentally started to dive into the idea of an electric vehicle. Not needing to drive much for work even pre-pandemic, a car replacement hadn’t really been a priority; but my car was getting older and by then, really showing some ugly rust spots (it was 15 years old after all) and I had been toying with a replacement for a few years now. Also, I hadn’t given myself a mid-life crisis gift yet – an EV sounded like a great excuse to get something fun without being [overtly] wasteful.
The decision on whether to get an EV was pretty straightforward for me once advances in battery technology allowed for over 400kms of electric range (there could be whole debates on whether this 400kms is even relevant for my needs). I wanted an EV – and not having to debate EV vs gas car choices eliminated much of the cost comparison/justification rationale – all valid and worth discussing, but I just left it as the front-end cost will be more, and would be made up by lower costs in the future. But which EV? And as it turned out, even once that was decided, there was a whole new world of information to explore after the decision was made. Even to this day there is more information I am learning and trying to keep up to date on. But I am enjoying it all, and I am enjoying every aspect of driving my EV without the worry of gas costs or CO2 emissions.
Below is a list of some of the topics I explored during my EV purchase saga. To go in-depth into each of these topics would make this a very long post and expose you to the true depths of my obsession on the EV topic. In my defense, from what I have seen, many in the EV community have the same fascination. And if you haven’t already experienced it, the internet and social media can easily become one deep and vast rabbit hole of information.
This is a rough timeline of my purchase experience and the list of the things I learned along the way:
March 2020 to March 2021: Learned about specific EV models, Teslas, and honed in on the Hyundai Ioniq5
Endless YouTube videos and forums discussing Tesla vs other alternatives;
- I liked the innovative ideas behind the Tesla Cybertruck, but it wasn’t going to be built anytime soon (I still have a deposit in place from May 2020).
- Lots more choices are coming out, but the standard always came back to Tesla.
- Hyundai Ioniq5 checked virtually every box and looked competitive to the Tesla Model Y in almost every aspect, but it was not yet available in North America.
June 2021: Placed deposit with Hyundai Canada – 1st day available – the real research and obsession begins.
- Required daily monitoring of forums and talked with a friend also considering the car – upon reserving a car on the Hyundai website, was notified pricing TBD, and estimated delivery date: Fall 2021.
- Social media and hype around the Ioniq5 came out well before the pre-orders were available in Canada. This had a lot to do with the fact that the car was released first in South Korea, and also in Europe, where EV adoption is further ahead (among other reasons).
- Reservations for Ioniq5 in Canada opened up on June 1, 2021, and a $500 deposit was required and processing was needed to be done by a local dealership – a bit of a guessing game on whether my chosen trim level would be at the expected price.
- Federal EV rebate questions (needing to look at Federal rebate rules, interpretations, past examples from other cars/prices). Much debate and arguing on this point on the EV forums, especially with deposits already placed on specific trim levels.
Delivery date guesses:
- Dealership and Hyundai head-office emailed information on status of the order and built. Dates kept on being pushed out (production delays related to semi-conductor shortage, and railroad flooding in BC).
- Some forums had contributors compiling reservation #’s from various purchasers and comparing estimated build dates to extrapolate various build and receiving dates.
Reasons to 2nd-guess the EV choice:
- As the car entered the markets in Europe and around the world, YouTube in-depth reviews and internet chats were starting to pop up. Generally they were glowing reviews, but of course no car is perfect.
- Much of the YouTube videos and chat site topics also revolved around the inevitable comparisons to the Tesla 3/Y, but also other cars, particularly the VW ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach E, Kia EV6.
- Continued confusion with what features Ioniq5’s in Canada would include or exclude persisted due to trims being reported in international markets – battery pack size, sunroof, drawer glove compartment, frunk size etc.
Battery charging concerns:
- One of the main selling features of the Ioniq5 is the touted charging speed. There is so much more to charging than plugging and unplugging. Getting to optimal charging speed requires an understanding and education on factors for EV battery charging speeds. One of the biggest complaint on the forums from new ioniq5 owners in Europe were that they were getting slow charging times.
- There is the additional lesson of specific EV battery types having different chemistries and characteristics (charge the battery fully or not?).
- Thermodynamics handled by the specific EV model engineers to make sure the battery doesn’t overheat while charging also affects the charging speed – the Ioniq5 has a certain step-downs as it hits certain battery temperatures (‘cold gating”, battery preheating).
Nov 2021: Canada Ioniq5 pricing announced, updates indicating production delays.
- Pricing guesses – applicability of rebate still unclear for certain trims.
- Delivery date guesses – ongoing, skepticism and laments from the online community
Jan 2022: Received VIN from Hyundai head-office – car shipped from Korea.
- No Ioniq5’s were yet in Canada officially, but began to hear stories on YouTube that there were some sitting in the Hyundai Canada lot in Markham. I did sneak over there and learn that there were indeed a few sitting there, which allowed me to see the outside of the product in-person, and in the color I had ordered. Everything looked just as I had researched, and my EV choice was reaffirmed.
Feb 2022: Hyundai dealership contacted me to test drive and sign commitment documents.
- Test drive didn’t have the specific trim of car I ordered – materially different as the car was RWD vs AWD and lacked all the many upgraded features.
- No special attention was given to upsell any accessories, perhaps as many accessories were not yet available
- General consensus from my research on the different sites was that the overall dealership experience for all non-Tesla brands was/is lacking. Many chat site contributors gave feedback that dealerships were giving conflicting information on a whole host of items, much of which indicated a lack of EV knowledge from the dealership, or a lack of visibility on car features and delivery times.
March 2022: The car arrived at dealership! Now the hands-on experience begins, and so does the continuing EV learning process.
Things I learned and am continuing to learn even AFTER getting my EV:
- Lessons on remote car app functionality
- Costs of installing a home charger, level 1 or 2?
- V2L uses and possibilities
- Learning about EV charging station apps
- Apple CarPlay wireless adapter alternatives (and other accessories)
- Regen settings and efficiency comparisons
- Videos on road trip experiences
- Recall notifications
- Maintenance schedule
- EV-catered tire choices
- Software updates
- Updates on when software updates are expected
Buying my first EV was a vastly different experience than when I bought my last car. I can’t speculate yet if this is the ‘new normal’, but Tesla fans will support the notion that Tesla has changed the game not only for the electrification of cars, but also for how consumers buy cars.
I definitely would not have had to go through and learn and worry about nearly as many things if I had been looking for a new gas car (and note, I might have saved myself some time if I had discovered EV Society’s resources sooner). But I was really interested in learning each and every item and didn’t take it as a chore (especially as there were many information gaps on the car). Idle time during the pandemic, paired with the huge waiting time for delivery, gave me the time to research obsessively on YouTube and on EV related forums (including Facebook groups). With the way things played out in the world, if I had hesitated in any way in pre-ordering the car, I may still be daydreaming about the car instead of enjoying it right now.
Some of the things I did learn about EVs along the way will hopefully become part of the ‘regular’ knowledge that people will not have to scour the internet for as EV’s enter more into the mainstream. And some of the less-than-ideal EV purchasing experiences can hopefully be written off as growing pains of the auto companies as they transition to EVs.
Even now, as a new EV owner, I’m still learning about new EV offerings, and battery technologies, and none of it is making me regret the EV choice I made and am enjoying everyday. With supply constraints, gas costs, market disruptions, and current wait times for EVs, I know how lucky I got. For my part, the wait time was worth it and I won’t be going back to a gas car.