«As a hybrid car, the Passat GTE was my “gateway” to electric mobility. Actually it was a completely normal Passat, but I could switch to fully electric for a good 50 kilometres – more in summer, less in winter. That was just about enough to get to work, and then I charged the battery at home overnight or while at work.»
Silvia, you get a new company car every three months. Right now it’s a VW ID.3. What do you think of it?
I like it! It’s great to drive, easy to handle and very dynamic. Although it’s not really that big, there’s plenty of room inside, and the cockpit is very well organised.
Before this, you had an Audi e-tron and a VW Passat GTE, a hybrid car. What did you make of those two?
As a hybrid car, the Passat GTE was my “gateway” to electric mobility. Actually it was a completely normal Passat, but I could switch to fully electric for a good 50 kilometres – more in summer, less in winter. That was just about enough to get to work, and then I charged the battery at home overnight or while at work. By now I’m really motivated to use as little petrol as possible. It always annoyed me a little when the engine suddenly kicked in. And for long trips to Germany, Italy or Austria, the petrol engine is great of course.
The Audi e-tron was my first fully electric car, and it set the bar pretty high! It’s still very similar to a conventional Audi to operate, so getting used to it was no problem. The equipment and fittings are fantastic – with a load of bits and bobs where you first think: “I don’t need that!” But once you have it, you wouldn’t want to be without it – the 360-degree cameras, for example.
With its 400 hp, the Audi e-tron was the most powerful car I’d ever had. You can clearly feel this power, and I really enjoyed driving it. Due to coronavirus restrictions, it was unfortunately also the first car I didn’t drive on a German motorway. I would have liked to try it out at higher speeds.
What surprised you most about these cars?
When you switch from an automatic petrol or diesel to an electric car, the first surprise is how it takes off straight away and very quickly when you accelerate. That’s really great, and lets you nip into a little gap in heavy traffic.
The second big surprise is how quiet and smooth the cars are. Especially with the hybrid, you really felt the difference between the electric and the petrol engines.
What do you find most fascinating about electric mobility?
Apart from the many benefits in terms of the driving experience, the environmental aspect is hugely important to me. There are various discussions about whether electric cars are actually more environmentally friendly than those with combustion engines. But for me it also depends a great deal on how the electricity for the car is produced, and this is why I try to “fill up” with electricity from renewable sources wherever possible. And at home, the electricity comes from our own solar energy system. I like the idea of self-sufficiency, and this wouldn’t be possible with petrol, diesel, gas or hydrogen.
Are there any negative aspects?
Range is always an issue of course. Due to coronavirus restrictions, we drove much less than usual last year, so this wasn’t a problem so far. But I’m already a little concerned about travelling to Italy for my next holiday.
And what also bothers me are the constant software updates – usually while driving. This was extreme with the VW Passat GTE, but also with the Audi e-tron a few functions just suddenly disappeared from time to time. Once, for example, the automatic traffic sign assist was suddenly gone. Another time, the radio didn’t work for three days, and that was particularly annoying. At one point we even had a black screen showing “Engineering” and a range of technical options. This is really scary if it happens while driving. I hope this gets better.
Lots of buyers who are undecided are concerned about the charging situation and the range. What do you think?
It’s important to be able to charge at home, and this already goes a long way to meet needs. The range of the VW ID.3 and Audi e-tron is between 300 and 400 kilometres. That’s plenty for Switzerland. And there are lots of fast charging stations available here. Germany and Austria are also doing well, but I understand the concerns when it comes to other countries. You need to plan well, and make sure there are charging options at your destination. The big question, though, is how often do I really travel routes like that? If it’s only once a year for a holiday, then you can rent a car if you need to.
Would you go back to a car with a conventional combustion engine?
The driving experience first and foremost – I wouldn’t like to give that up. And then there’s the quiet and the environmental aspect. I’ll definitely be sticking with electric cars.