On The Road - Driving Experiences

Well, what can I say?

Put the key in the 'ignition' lock, turn it on, put the 'gear lever' into Drive, press the accelerator and you silently and swiftly zoom away!

My first experience with this technology was a little embarrassing. The transporter driver reversed it off the ramp and left it at the side of the road outside the house. I jumped in, turned the key, heard the power steering pump start up (it runs all the time), snicked it into Drive, pressed the 'go pedal' and ........ nothing!
My immediate thought was "Oh, heck. Have I been sold a lemon?"
It didn't help that there was no handbook with the car. How was I to know that you actually had to 'start the motor'? After turning the key against the spring (as though you were starting an engine) I heard a 'clunk' as the actuators operated, and everything after that was great  :o)

It is just like driving an automatic. The 'gear lever' has 4 positions; Park (which, just like an automatic, will lock the transmission), Reverse (it will actually go quite fast in reverse and is electronically limited), Neutral and Drive.
You can only 'start the motor' if the lever is in Park or Neutral.

On the instrument panel are two large, circular dials and an Econometer (see Driving Tips). 

One dial is the speedometer (up to 70mph!), the other is an Energy Meter. On a full charge the Energy Meter shows just over 100%. It seems to be fairly linear; if you have covered 25 miles and the meter shows 50%, continue driving with the same style and you should get another 25 miles.

The acceleration from standstill is impressive - up to about 40mph it keeps up with most traffic. It is very easy to spin the wheels on a loose surface as there is so much torque available at low speed.

Out of town, on a level road, it will accelerate quite acceptably up to 55mph (on a level road), and will reach 65mph fairly easy. It certainly won't embarrass you!  If you wanted to compare performance with a fossil fuelled vehicle, it feels similar to a sub-1 litre car. That's not really surprising as the 28kW motor is equivalent to about 37bhp.
It will actually beat some cars away from lights etc. as there are no gear changes to make. When other drivers are changing up into 2nd gear, the Electrique just keeps on accelerating.

Where it can be a problem is accelerating up a long incline if you are not already at speed. On a long hill near us there is a roundabout at the bottom. Driving off the roundabout at 20mph means a long haul up the hill, eventually reaching about 50mph in probably a quarter of a mile. Luckily there is an overtaking lane for the length of the hill.
On a similar hill with no roundabout, starting off at 55mph I can maintain that speed for a good distance, eventually slowing to 45-50mph and then holding at that speed.

Hill starts are no problem either. There is a 20% hill out of our village, which is on a bus route, but is too narrow for a bus and car to pass! If a bus appears around a corner halfway up the hill, the cars have to stop, usually on the steepest part of the hill. I have to do this regularly, and even with 5 on board and a heavy Diesel generator in the back, it sets off again with no fuss at all.

Slowing down is an experience! Taking your foot off the accelerator completely is just like applying the brakes (much more so than in 'normal' cars) as the regenerative braking starts charging the batteries. You can drive around without touching the brakes for most of the time once you get used to it. By adjusting the accelerator you can slow down for most bends and corners by recharging the batteries instead of using up your friction material!

If you drive to within 5% of zero charge, it still accelerates up to about 30mph, but slows right down for any inclines. The 'reserve light' comes on at about 10%, at which point it still feels lively, but hit a hill and the Energy Meter drops quite quickly. You need to be within a few miles of home unless you have other alternatives (charge it up at a pub, or beg a tow).
Another Berlingo-E driver has told me that he runs his right down to 0% and still reckons on getting another few miles (a bit like running on fumes!).

The Berlingo Electrique runs on fairly narrow tyres which are (or should be) 6ply commercial rating, which makes them a little stiffer than standard 4ply car tyres. Saying that, the ride is very 'car like' as it is based on the excellent Citroen ZX & Xsara floorpan and suspension.
There is very little body roll for such a tall vehicle as the centre of gravity is much lower than other vehicles, with the batteries slung under the floor, so when cornering it stays very flat.
The weight distribution is good as well, as two of the three battery packs are under the rear floor, one in front and one behind the rear wheels.



If you have reached this page via a search engine, you may not see the whole site.
Click here to go to the main site

web hit counter