Well, Volkswagen is currently having that dream where you’re standing butt naked in the middle of a stage and suddenly the walls drop away and the whole world can see you. With the revelation that the 2-liter TDI diesel engine was beating emissions tests with software chicanery rather than actually running clean, literally millions of automobiles from the Volkswagen Automotive Group (which includes Porsche, Audi, Seat and Skoda, and for crying out loud could you come up with a better collective acronym) are suddenly out of compliance with government regulation – the repair of which will cost billions of dollars and almost certainly result in compromised performance both in power and fuel efficiency.
I have multiple friends who have recently bought TDI VWs and they are Frisbee pissed about it. And this almost certainly lops off the Golf SportWagen from the list; if its mileage suffers even a little it’ll drop below the financially viable point. We’re basically down to the Prius V and the Chevy Volt, and the last right now is only a semi-serious concern of mine until I can actually sit in the 2016 model and see what’s going on. But as with the phones I’ve so heavily discussed, the best car is the one you’ve already got, and despite its erratic performance, the VW Rabbit is going to remain the car for the foreseeable future. After all, all our travel plans now call for trains and planes through the end of January at least, and I don’t think we have to drive anyplace further than a BART station until then.
The thing is, for an all-electric vehicle to be viable, it’s got to have a range of a legit 100 miles. And right now that’s not out there unless you splash out on a Tesla S, and I don’t want to spend $80K for a mid-to-full-sized car. I don’t need anything much bigger than the Rabbit myself, and the family consensus is that the Prius V is as big as we need – because it’s a hatch. A non-hatch sport sedan is asking too much, and Tesla doesn’t play in the non-Eloi marketplace yet. (The notional Tesla 3 is being forecast for 2018, which makes it as nearly vaporware as makes no difference. Both our cars aren’t going to last three more years in normal use.)
More to the point, it’s starting to look like a legit range of 75 miles would be plenty for most of our purposes, especially if charging is available there (electric charging at Daly City BART would be a game-changer). At that point, if you can charge in SF or Berkeley, those are viable destinations, and even if you can’t, you can get to the BART or Caltrain that takes you there. Work, groceries, the San Jose Giants, collecting folks from the airport (long as you fly through SJC), or even the ever-rarer trip to the mall or for a Victory Slice – all doable with a range of about 75 miles. And at that point, as the wife has pointed out, long-haul trips to Disneyland, or the Central Coast, or Tahoe, just mean renting a car for less than the cost of a monthly payment. Which means you could get by with, say…an e-Golf.
Electric is coming. Might be time to jump on board.