A few weeks back I had a very comfortable week in the new Mercedes fully electric EQA. Last week it was another Merc – the GLA 250e – a compact SUV which is related to the EQA as it shares the same chassis and interior, but rather than being fully electric, it’s a plug-in hybrid.
During my most recent test drive, there was a debate on Liveline on RTE about the merits and disadvantages of electric cars. The main issue up for debate was the lifetime of the batteries; where does the lithium comes from to make the batteries and can the batteries be recycled.
According to some of the callers there seems to be a worldwide issue about slave labour being used and forests being cut down in Africa and South America to mine the lithium.
As often happens on Liveline the debate started off on a rather negative note, but this time it ended with a few callers extoling the benefits of electric cars.
Maybe we do need to delve more into the whole electric debate. However, with the Greens in government, Ireland is pushing ahead with more charge points as witnessed by the recent opening of an eight-bay high-power electric charging hub at the Mayfield Service station near Monasterevin.
At the launch a few years back, Mercedes described the GLA as a sporty, lifestyle-oriented partner to the GLB, and a companion to the GLC and GLE within their wider family of SUV models.
Unlike the front of the EQA which was dull as there is no grille, the front of the GLA is much more attractive and typical Mercedes design.
Inside, the décor was very similar to the EQA, gorgeous cream leather seats and so comfortable. As usual with Mercedes, the controls on the dash are well laid out and user-friendly.
I think Mercedes cars are very safe and when you reverse the screen-grab on the dash holds the image of the area behind the car for approximately 10-15 seconds as you drive away.
This facility applies in most Mercedes cars and it sure will let you know if you have done any damage while reversing!
There is good boot space, but no spare wheel as the space underneath the boot is taken up with the electrics.
Prices for the 1.3-litre plug-in start at €48,690, but with a few extras included the price of my night black-coloured test car came to €50,388. As usual with plug-in hybrids you can get around 40k in pure electric mode if you charge the battery every night.
I attended at an engagement garden party in Straffan, Co Kildare and got a lot of attention from young partygoers, who were very impressed with the design of the car and the gorgeous cream leather seats.
The young mothers present told me that they would not be worried about children dirtying the seats, saying that they would be very easy to clean.
All the admirers wanted to know more about the benefits of a plug-in hybrids compared to fully electric. It’s obvious that potential new car buyers do want to know more about electric versus plug-in and the debate continues
We are told the future is electric, but for now I think Hybrid is probably the safer way to go. Everybody has enough stress in their daily life and can do with the ‘range anxiety’ that a fully electric car can bring.