The children of today will see more technology in their lives than we ever will, but what do they make of high-tech electrified cars of the now?
An important aspect about electrified vehicles is preserving the environment and helping to ensure there’s a future for the next generation.
While conscientious parents are now beginning to enjoy the performance and utility of such cars, it’s really the children who are the main beneficiaries.
Which is why we wanted to ask them what they thought about electrified cars – which include electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – since this is very likely the technology they’ll be using when they get their driver’s licenses.
Kids say the darndest things and often with a big heaping of truth, so what better way to cut to the heart of the matter than with kids’ fresh, unfiltered, and honest opinions?
Electrified cars are still an unknown quantity to most of the public, not least to kids who haven’t taken their PSLEs yet, let alone their driving tests. That’s why the BMW i3s and BMW i8 are the perfect introductions to the world of electric motoring. The BMW i3 was the first EV to go on sale here, while the i8 was one of the first PHEVs to enter the Singapore market; and both of them look sufficiently daring and different to turn heads and enthrall minds out on the road.
This is especially true of the BMW i8. What low-slung, brightly-coloured and flamboyantly-styled sports car doesn’t attract attention? A big part of that is down to the BMW i8’s dramatic butterfly doors, which was one of the first things the kids twigged on. Seven-year old Abel (below) immediately recognised it from one of the most iconic sports cars of all time, exclaiming, “It’s just like a McLaren!” Very cool indeed.
Even though the BMW i3s is a more practical city runabout, it too is distinctive in its own right. Its carbon-fibre reinforced plastic body is stiff enough that the rear doors can be backwards-hinged (which eases ingress and egress for passengers), while the packaging flexibility of the electric drivetrain allows for tiny dimensions without compromising on space.
Abel and six-year old Joel (below) found the BMW i3s perfect as a family car as there’s plenty of space for four. “Daddy and mummy will sit in front while mei mei and I sit behind, and I can keep my toy cars in there too!” said Joel, pointing to the rear cupholders.
The i3s has a 260-litre boot that’s quite practical as well. Eleven-year old Callum (below) reckoned it’s big enough for all his soccer gear: “I can fit quite a few soccer balls, cones, and if we fold down the rear seat, even the goal posts can go in too,” he beamed. Meanwhile for parents of toddlers, the lack of a B-pillar also makes access to their child seats in the back a significantly less back-straining affair.
The BMW i8 on the other hand, may be a slinky supercar, but that doesn’t mean it’s totally impractical. 1.3-metre-tall Abel loves the amount of space in the back of his mum’s seven-seater SUV (which he calls his “fortress”), but he still enjoyed climbing into the i8’s sizeable boot, and wouldn’t mind riding back there if the regular seats are full – not that we’d ever condone doing that of course…
Another thing that sets EVs apart from conventional cars is their performance. A 0-100km/h time of under seven seconds makes the BMW i3s as fast as a red-blooded hot hatch, but it’s the immediate response of the electric motor, followed by its sustained, unrelenting surge, that really amplifies the sensation of speed. It certainly left five-year old Nicole (below), who thought the BMW i3s looked cute rather than quick, giggling with delight and demanding more, which shows that torque addiction could be something close to a fundamental human characteristic.
Only Joel was slightly less impressed, but that’s only because his dad drives an old-school Japanese sports saloon. “It’s fast enough, but my daddy’s car is faster!” he said with obvious pride, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to point out that silence doesn’t mean a lack of speed.
Which brings us to the fact that the kids all agreed on two points – the appeal of an electrified car’s silent running, as well as the convenience of charging one at home. For them, the biggest benefit of not having a running engine is being able to sleep better or listen to music more clearly; and while they recognise that cars need a power source (Nicole: “Cars need to drink petrol like we need to drink water!), the smells at a petrol station are generally off-putting. And besides, plugging in an EV at home like a phone or tablet instead of heading out to the petrol station means more play time for them.
For now, electrified vehicles may still be a novelty to most, but children growing up in the digital age apparently feel right at home with them. Checking out new cars – especially those as interesting and exciting as BMW i offers – was always fun for our astute mini-car reviewers, but for the rest of us, the staying power of EVs is anything but child’s play.
It’s good to know that they’re already accepting of a whole new type of motoring, which is just as well, because cars like the BMW i3 and BMW i8 are made with them in mind, after all.