The following is a discussion with Aussie electric vehicle (EV) owner Russell Heaton about their purchase of a Cupra Born 2023 and experience driving, servicing, charging etc.
EDITOR: I’m publishing a regular series of articles with the views of Australian EV owners about their EV ownership experience.
This will help fill an information gap as the majority of electric car news articles are about new car launches and there’s relatively little published about the longer term Australian ownership experience after you’ve paid for your electric car. Hopefully this shared information helps other Aussies make their own EV purchase decision.
Was your electric car bought or leased?
Please describe your purchasing / lease process experience … Easy, Mediocre, Frustrating..?
What has the regular servicing / dealership experience been like?
Not serviced yet, dealer has been very attentive with minor warranty issue.
How do you regularly charge your car for day to day usage?
- plug in to specially installed faster EV charger at work
- plug into specially installed faster charger at home using solar only (off-grid), never uses house battery
What has your day to day normal charging experience been like?
No problems or anxiety. The Western Australia Government funded “EV Highway” is almost complete meaning that I could realistically travel from Eucla to the West Coast and up to Kununurra without having to travel more than 250km between chargers.
How do you charge your car for longer road trips on the weekend or during holidays? Do you prefer any particular brand of public fast charger during road trips eg Evie, Tesla, Chargefox and why?
Chargefox because I can use RFID card. That said, I am of the opinion that the price of their rapid charging (more than double the average statewide retail price/kWh) is robbery without violence.
What’s the farthest road trip you’ve done in your EV and what did you learn from this experience that would be useful for others to know?
500km. Stopped just once at approx. halfway. While fast-charging, took a toilet break and had some lunch. Nice and relaxing and good fatigue management. Charging was finished sooner than I was expecting it to be.
Does your EV have any special features like V2L reverse charging from the car to your portable/home appliances? If yes please share your experience using this special feature
Not equipped with V2L. Not required (was a part of the consideration when choosing the right vehicle) as already have more than enough home battery capacity.
If you have roadside assist included with the car purchase/lease and have had to use it, which company provided the service and what was that experience like?
Provided, but not used so far.
If you have had issues with your car and asked for these to be fixed under warranty, did the car brand do the right thing and fix it without causing you stress?
Minor issue with after-market window tint, sold as part of the package. Dealer organised for the window to be re-done at no charge. Very attentive, prompt service. No complaints.
What are the 3 strongest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
- Range very close to WLTP quoted figure.
- Stunning appearance.
- Flawless adaptive cruise-control.
What are the 3 weakest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
- Media centre is not intuitive.
- Haptic buttons on steering wheel take some getting used to, to avoid accidental operation.
- Only one dealership for the whole of Western Australia.
What is your view on car software updates? Some people prefer it be done by dealers, some don’t want updates, others want them regularly over the air
As a former IT guy I am ambivalent about software updates unless there is a serious issue that they correct. “If it ain’t broke, it doesn’t need fixin’” is my motto. I wasn’t particularly concerned about not having connectivity for the same reason.
To me connectivity represents a security issue. Every piece of IT stuff in our house is locked down tighter than a drum, completely under my control. I have no devices in the house that require direct Internet and third-party servers to function.
Those things that I choose to allow access to the Internet are suitably firewalled and kept at arm’s length from the important network stuff.
I don’t need a vehicle running someone else’s software, that I can’t control, to be a part of my network. I do have a direct link to a web page that I can instantly find out if my vehicle is subject to recall campaigns.
What questions would ask your car manufacturer HQ if you could?
As far as general questions go, I am somewhat troubled by the fact that I don’t have a spare tyre. I can live with it and, obviously, it didn’t deter me when choosing the Born but I was staggered when I found that there is no puncture repair kit or tyre inflation equipment provided with the vehicle.
The regular commute for our Cupra is a 100km round-trip from home to, and from, Geraldton. Plenty of places to pick up a tyre piercing object and a long way to walk if it happens.
Worse still, our next most regular trip is 489km from home to Perth with very long distances between towns and I suspect, a pretty long wait for the roadside assist to show up.
Why don’t they at least supply something that could get the vehicle to the next town?
Also what does the future hold for Cupra, given that the Volkswagen & Audi Group (VAG) is severely curtailing EV manufacture?
I did hear a whisper that the next full BEV Cupra is going to be produced in China because the parent company just can’t build them competitively in Europe.
Would you buy or lease this brand of electric car again and recommend it to others?
Yes, although the price would make me at least consider other makes, particularly MG.
Do you have any other comments about your electric car brand, experience etc?
The EV has lived up to expectations and has already saved us a lot of money. At the time of completing this review our total cost of running the vehicle for 6500km is $117.77
If you’re an Australian electric vehicle owner and would like to participate in this interview series by sharing your experience please contact me directly or add a comment below and let me know.