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From the Citroën CX to the Aiways U5, testimony from a car lover who has gone electric

At 52, Olivier Delpierre has had more than 25 cars in his life. After a first unfortunate passage by electric mobility in 2008, followed by a desert of 6 years, it would no longer return to gasoline or diesel models. Especially to carry out its 4,000 monthly kilometers.

A car enthusiast

Citroën CX or Aiways U5: Olivier Delpierre is the style to want to discover a bit of everything that is original in terms of automobiles. He is one of the drivers who came to electric early, nurturing a passion for cars. It was not an isolated case in 2008, when he acquired a Citroën Berlingo with nickel-cadmium batteries for 2,000 euros.

Trained as an electronics engineer, I had just established myself as an electrician. I came across this utility which suited my new professional life well. However, it was with a slightly avant-garde technician’s approach that I bought this vehicle. », comments our interlocutor.

However, I experienced many miseries with the electric Berlingo whose autonomy on a recharge allowed me at best to go from Val-d’Oise to Essonne “, he admits.

8,000 km in 10 months

My first big problem with this utility happened very quickly, with the explosion of the battery tray under the tunnel of the A14. The professional who sold me the car, probably obtained in a lot of areas, obviously knew nothing about electric vehicles. The machine a priori came out of the park of a town hall, for the maintenance of green spaces “says Olivier Delpierre.

Fortunately, I then came across the Citroën dealership in Colombes, for whom this technology held no secrets. He helped me break the deadlock. Already by reintegrating the Berlingo into the official circuit which imposed the rental of batteries, against 150 euros per month. He was then able to replace the defective tray “, he still appreciates.

Some time later, an engine light came on on the dashboard. The Berlingo suddenly stopped, surprising the motorists following me. I was then in the left lane of the A86 near Gennevilliers. This time, it was the motor brushes that needed to be replaced. “, he reports.

Oil barrels in front of the eyes

Then there was a fan failure which again ruined the carbons, and yet another problem soon after. In short, from September 2008 to June 2009, I was only able to cover 8,000 km. Citroën Colombes put me in touch with Accus Service, near Bordeaux, which bought this type of vehicle at the time. It was done for 500 euros. Both establishments handled my problem really well at the time. “, thanks Olivier Delpierre.

From 2009 to 2015, I took over thermal vehicles. And then I had a realization. I drove a lot. I calculated what that could do in number of barrels of oil. I could even visualize them. And there, I said to myself that it was no longer possible, that I had to try an electric car again “, he confides to us.

I then bought a second-hand Renault Kangoo ZE 5-seater for 4,700 euros, which I kept for 2 years, for 20,000 km. It was a practical vehicle, without any pleasure. It accepted 35 bags of 35 kg each, loaded on pallets. I was sliding this into the trunk directly with a forklift. I was able to pour thanks to this vehicle 8 to 10 tons of concrete “, he explains.

Holidays 250 km from home

In 2019, I bought a Peugeot Partner Tepee Galicia Electric for 16,000 euros. It had 500 km on the odometer. It was superb, very comfortable, and well equipped with its air conditioning and rear shelves for the children. I also kept it for 2 years, but I traveled 30,000 km with it “, figure Olivier Delpierre.

Peugeot Partner Tepee Electric

We used it several times to go on summer vacation. With our two children, there were four of us on board, in addition to the 18 kg Creole shepherd dog. We all really liked this MPV. For big departures, two bikes were installed on the roof, and two others on the tailgate “, he recalls.

The electric Partner only had a range of around 120 km. But it had the CHAdeMO recharge. To reach Fort-Mahon in the Baie de Somme from the Paris region, we took the secondary roads and stopped 3 times to connect the vehicle: Auchan Beauvais, Amiens, then not far from the finish. It took us 5 to 6 hours to complete the 250 km “, he testifies.

40,000 km in one year with the Hyundai Kona

Today, I am an electrical engineering teacher with young people aged 15 to 18 in a pro section, in Touraine. I like having them program automatons. I am looking for a house there. In the meantime, I do about 1,000 km a week to get home. I now travel with an electric Hyundai Kona that I bought new for 29,000 euros “explains Olivier Delpierre.

I got a nice 10% discount on an entry-level model. With him, the electric went from the role of second car to that of main vehicle by dethroning a Ford Grand C-max. He is a little small, but, until now, the big family trips have been made with him: Brittany, Cap-Ferret, Salzburg in Austria, Europa-Park in Germany, etc. And always four, with the dog, the four bikes and a box on a hitch ball “, he details.

Tow ball box - Hyundai Kona Electric

It is a real pleasure to drive it on mountain roads. When we can, we use Ionity terminals. There, the electric Kona is a little disappointing in terms of recharging power. Which doesn’t really make it cheaper to use than a thermal car “, he compares.

Newcomer: Aiways U5

When the Grand C-max’s automatic gearbox broke, we started looking for a spacious electric vehicle. I had read quite positive testimonials from the Aiways U5. The main defect noted by journalists was then the interference of the driving system “, goes back Olivier Delpierre.

In December, the brand’s sales representatives had not made their figures. I was able to benefit, in addition to the 6,000 euros from the government bonus, from a 5,000 euros discount, and from an unexpected recovery of the Grand C-max for 4,700 euros, despite the gearbox problem. Thus, our new model in a very well-equipped limited series cost us 27,000 euros. “, he calculates.

The AIways electric SUV

Not very tall, my wife appreciates having a high position behind the wheel. She was immediately thrilled by the Aiways U5. We received our copy on February 7th. To date, it has 5,000 km on the odometer. It is a very pleasant vehicle to drive on a daily basis, very spacious and very quiet. There is just a little wind noise from the windows. “, he judges.

With it, I disconnect the sign recognition. Adaptive cruise control works relatively well, but it does slow the U5 whether there are people ahead or not “, he completes.

Hyundai Kona vs Aiways U5

My wife and I had to reach Cap-Ferret from Vouvray; her in U5 and me in Kona. This allowed us to make some comparisons. Already at the level of consumption. Driving at 110-120 km/h, the Hyundai needed just under 15 kWh/100 km. That’s what I usually get with him. On the other hand, with the Aiways, it takes 5 kWh more, or 20 kWh / 100 km », aligns our reader.

The Korean SUV allows me to do a Paris-Vouvray without stopping. On the other hand, with Chinese, I have to recharge in Blois “, he underlines.

Even at Level 3, the U5’s regenerative braking is too light. The Kona’s steering wheel paddle system is much more efficient, even stopping the vehicle without pressing the brake pedal. It really allows to obtain tight consumptions “, he believes.

Charging power that divides

On the DC charging power side, the Aiways is much better. Both cars benefit from a similar energy capacity of 63-64 kWh. With a Tesla supercharger in Angoulême, the energy level went from 35 to 95% on the U5, while it evolved between 50 and 85% on the Kona’s dashboard “, observed Olivier Delpierre.

Beyond 80% energy, the first has a higher recharge power than the Korean at 60%. Unless there is a preferential rate, and for the same quantity of energy received, the Aiways will cost less than the Hyundai when switching to Ionity, which bills by the minute », warns our interlocutor.

A little penchant for…

Of all the electric vehicles that have come to the house, the Hyundai Kona is my favorite. It’s a very playful and fun car to drive. It is however with the Aiways that I like to travel far, staying at 110-120 km/h on the motorway “, acknowledges Olivier Delpierre.

I would love to try the Tesla Model Y and Model X. But these cars are expensive. I would be quite tempted by a used Mercedes EQV. And by an electric motorcycle too, a Zero, for example he reflects.

I absolutely do not regret switching to the electric car, and I would not go back. I used to love tinkering with my V6, LPG, diesel etc. cars. But I must have been on it too often. Today, even my lawn mower is electric. And if I had to buy a mowing tractor, it would be too “, he imagines.

When we are in our new house, in Touraine, I will equip it with a large photovoltaic installation, in particular on carports. I have the skills to do it, and I know a good supplier near Nantes “, he concludes.

Automobile Propre and I warmly thank Olivier Delpierre for his excellent welcome and his infectious enthusiasm.

Author’s opinion

I quite found myself in the testimony of Olivier Delpierre. Already its passage by an electric vehicle with nickel-cadmium battery. I had taken the plunge a year earlier, with however the chance of being very well surrounded to make the Renault Clio work as well as possible in 1996, then the Kangoo Elect’Road in 2002. Without that, I would never have been able to travel about 80,000 km in total with these vehicles, in almost 9 years. They demanded a filling of the batteries every 3,000 km, were sensitive to everything. Humidity, heat, cold, salty roads, particulate air, etc. : so many reasons for breakdowns and lights on the dashboard.

Also for holidays not far from home. With the Clio, my son and I slept in a hotel 70 km from our home to reach Créhange from Bar-le-Duc (130 km) where I had previously lived. No sadness. On the contrary, we took the opportunity to discover the restaurant menu and the surrounding area. With the Kangoo, the four of us went further, in Alsace, 250 km. Also in Épinal and Mirecourt in the Vosges. And always with great satisfaction. This MPV was fitted with a gasoline-powered range extender, which usually broke down because it was not used very often. No fast charging. We took advantage of visits, time spent in an amusement park or in a restaurant to plug in the Kangoo.

Like Olivier Delpierre, I enjoyed spending time on my thermal cars that I maintained myself as much as possible. This would no longer be the case today. If the electric NiCd battery were also very demanding on this subject, it is quite the opposite with those equipped with lithium-ion pack. What peace since!

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