The world we live in is changing, and it looks like it may not be for the best. It's sad to say, but come one day, the internal combustion engine would've come to its end, giving way to the cars of the future. This is a welcome change though, the petrol engine in its time with us has been responsible for many of the problems we face today when it comes to climate change. Now it's our chance to save a piece of this Earth for our kids, we can really be the hero they look up to.
I caught up with Jo Edgehill who works with MegaPower, the company spearheading this change here in Barbados. They are the official dealers of the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3 and a host of other electric and hybrid cars we see here on our roads today.
When was MegaPower Founded?
It was Founded in July of 2013, so this July the company will officially be 5 years old. Having the Company hasn't been without its ups and downs though. In Barbados, our road tax laws are based on vehicle weight. This somewhat made it difficult for owners of Electric Vehicles because by nature they are heavier than normal cars, they contend with the weight of the batteries inside of them. Times are looking up though as this law is soon to change, which would put the Electric Vehicle in the same bracket as your run of the mill Toyota Corolla.
How Many Vehicles are on the road to date?
MegaPower currently has more than 250 vehicles and 10 plugin hybrids making daily commutes on the roads of our small island. Outside of Barbados though, we do work with other countries, helping with their Electric Vehicle Infrastructure. Costa Rica has recently placed an order for 20+ quick charging systems which we are glad to help with as it encourages the use of the vehicles in that country.
What's it like owning a Nissan Leaf?
The 2018 Nissan Leaf is a joy to own. It's sporty looking, its more beefed up in its shape and lines cosmetically. Nissan really hit the nail on the head when it comes to styling on the new Nissan Leaf. What really makes it a joy is the amount of room on the inside. There's no want for space in front, and in the rear, it feels like a real people carrier with leg room for days. The rear seats drop all the way down, and gives more space even for an entire bicycle! The Nissan Leaf is a testament to the fact that Electric Cars are here not only to stay but have the looks like a car for everyday use.
Its battery pack has been increased in size and can deliver an estimated range of about 240 km. This means, for the average commuter, it can last almost an entire week, before needing to be recharged. It's redesigned battery pack offers a 67% increase over its 2010 counterpart. With new it's new power output the Leaf was equipped with a tougher chassis for stability and it's heavier components have been moved more to the center of the vehicle, this is where Nissan's experience building race cars come through.
The Nissan Leaf is pretty much like owning another high-end family sedan, which is a good thing to know. A person can enjoy comfort and convenience without any compromises.
Solving the Challenges of Charging
The issues in the past which really hindered electric Cars were its batteries. I'm sure we all are becoming familiar with this common sign, a green box in the parking lot, reserved for electric cars. I hope those of you with petrol engines didn't park in them, that wouldn't be cool. Advances in technology have allowed batteries to keep a charge for a longer time, but it also helped with the ability to charge the car at a faster rate.
Charging a car is as simple as plugging in a giant phone. Plug it in using the cables in the rear, and swipe your card to start your charging process. Charging stands vary, but there are 2 quick charging stations here in Barbados, which can bring your battery up from 0 - 80% in 20 - 30 minutes. Charging an electric car is different to filling up at the gas station, for one thing, there's no gas, but also, parking your car at either a mall or other place of business allows you to charge more conveniently, your charging station is where you want to go. Normal charging can take between 8 - 9 hours at home, using a 220v plug, like a washing machine or fridge outlet.
Some brands have realized adding flair and style to an electric car can help change the image of the way it is perceived. BMW, for example, has been building it's "I" line with this in view. When I was much younger, I recalled seeing concept car molds being crafted, maybe concept cars showing up in magazines in different car shows around the world, they were always limited by technology.
The day has finally come when all those sci-fi wallpapers of cars on your computer become reality! The BMW i3 is a pretty nifty creation, targeting persons who still love cars and style, BMW was able to cram a motor making 170 hp and 184 NM of torque from this compact EV, and it being an electric car, the torque is instant it's 0 - 100kph is within the 7-second range.
Innovation and Technology just ooze from this car though. Its interior design gives a feeling of intuition and sensibility, and it feels more like a computer with a steering wheel than a car. Similar to the Nissan Leaf, leg room isn't lacking one bit. What I really loved about this car though, where it's front opening rear doors, this allows the length of the car to be dramatically reduced making the car lighter and more efficient.
The range on the BMW is a bit less than the Nissan Leaf at 182 km, but it's charge time is also less too, a normal charge will take 5 hours. Its efficiency may be a bit less than the Nissan but it more than makes up for it in smiles per kilowatt.
Looking toward a Green Future
It's bittersweet at the moment to see the combustion engine go, but it's important to start investing in what is to come. I am overjoyed with the work that MegaPower is spearheading here in Barbados. There's no reason why our small island Barbados cannot be more eco-friendly. Electric Cars are still new to the market, but the trends show they will soon have a majority share in the market. So next time you see a charging station remember those green parking spots point the way to a greener tomorrow!
Happy Motoring - Alex