Very few personal car users drive more than 100km per day, within city limits. There’s mathematics to support the case. Suppose you live in Gurgaon, and even if you drive across a state, to your office in Noida, the return journey won’t be more than 100km. Throw in a meeting in Delhi and a dinner, and the maximum you might drive is 130km. In an electric car that travels 340km on a full charge, it shouldn’t be a problem.
This real-world range is what MG Motor is banking on for the ZS EV, the electric car it’ll launch in January 2020. We drive it from Gurgaon to Greater Noida, and are left with enough charge to take it for a spin for a couple of hours more.
The ZS is not a born-electric car; it’s an internal combustion engine car—sold in the UK—that is turned electric. So, it looks like any other compact SUV—similar in size to Hyundai Creta. Under its body is a 44.5 kWh battery pack (for comparison, Hyundai Kona has a 39.5 kWh battery pack), and the electric motor under the hood. It produces 141bhp power and 353Nm torque. Initial acceleration is intense—from 0-100kph in just 8.5 seconds.
Cabin space is decent, even though the rear seat bench is small and there’s little thigh support. As you’d expect from electric cars, the cabin is loaded with technology. For example, it’s got i-SMART EV 2.0 interface with an embedded machine-to-machine eSIM that provides on-board internet. It can also be connected to external Wi-Fi. Interesting features include voice commands such as “Open the sunroof” or “Take me to the nearest charging station”, and the system responds by talking back. To make the most of these features, one must download i-SMART EV 2.0 app on your smartphone, which mirrors what you experience inside the cabin, and lets you control car features remotely.
To get over range anxiety, when the remaining range is less than 50km, a spider-web kind of map opens on the screen, and shows you nearest charging points with navigation support. If you buy the car, the company will install, free of cost, a 7.4kW AC charger at either your home or office—it can charge the car in 6 hours. In addition, at MG dealerships, 50kW DC fast chargers have been set up—80% charge in 50 minutes—which can be accessed 24x7. The car can also be charged using three-pin socket, but it takes 16-18 hours.
True range: If driven at moderate speeds, without unnecessary acceleration and braking, the ZS EV can be driven Monday to Friday on a full charge—provided your commute is less than 50 km per day. At the same time, its electric motor is very responsive, and nudges you to push it hard, and if you constantly do so, the range drops substantially. So you have to find a middle ground. As far as price is concerned, we expect MG Motor will keep it less than the Kona (`23.7 lakh), and won’t be surprised if the ZS EV is priced a shade under `20 lakh.