Electric Cars

GreenCars Reader’s Ride: Volkswagen e-Golf

January 27, 2022

Interview with Oleh Hankivsky

Before going electric, Oleh Hankivsky was a diesel devotee. A sales and leasing professional in Etobicoke, Ontario Canada, his work for the past 12 years has involved dashing all over town for frequent client meetings. Outside of work, with two kids in hockey, he and his wife spend many hours in the car with the family driving all over the region. Oleh loved his first diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf wagon so much he bought a second one. “It wasn’t so much the fuel economy that I cared about,” he says, “but the range that I got out of every tank. The diesels went so long between fill-ups, which made them very convenient to own.”

Going from a diesel wagon to an electric-powered hatchback with significantly less range may seem counter-intuitive, but in 2017, Oleh decided to be one of the first people to lease a Volkswagen E-Golf, which had just hit the market.

Why Did You Choose This Particular EV?

This being my third VW, I’d say I’ve had positive experiences with the Golf in general. It’s compact and easy to maneuver in the city, but has enough space for the family and all of our gear. It’s a great car.

When Volkswagen announced that there was an electric version coming, I was one of the first ones to sign up for one. Really, I wanted to discover what owning and driving an electric vehicle was like. I leased the E-Golf for three years, thinking if I didn’t like it, I could just give it back at the end of the lease. I ended up loving it so much I extended the lease, and now I have the new Volkswagen ID.4 on order.

What Kind of Deal Did You Get?

Back in 2017, it was a great time to be purchasing an electric car. At the time, there was a regional government incentive of $7,500 if you purchased, financed, or leased, contingent on keeping the car for three years. Volkswagen finance had an attractive rate, as well. That $7,500 incentive has since gone away, which means it’s important to pay attention to what the incentives are at the time you’re shopping for an EV. In hindsight, even without it, I would still have made the decision to go electric because of what I’ve saved on fuel and maintenance, not something I thought about at the time.

I chose to lease my E-Golf because of the unknown – whether I would really like living with it or not, as well as uncertainty about resale value. I’d still be somewhat cautious about purchasing outright because the technology is evolving so fast, and each generation of car seems to be an exponential leap forward in tech and range. That said, I did re-lease my E-Golf because I liked driving it so much and there was no equivalent. As more and more electric vehicles hit the roads, there will be more data about resale value to better calculate rates and residuals, as well as better charging infrastructure, all of which should make EV ownership more affordable over time.

Are You Pleased with Your EV?

I’m very happy with the E-Golf, which is why I chose to keep it far beyond my original three-year lease. It’s totally fit for our purposes: I make a lot of short trips around the city, and driving electric has had a noticeable impact on how much I’m spending on transportation. It’s perfect for driving to work and back, seeing clients, and shuttling the kids around on the weekends. Most days, I drive about 40 or 50 miles, which still leaves me plenty of range to make unplanned side trips. If you have a commute of 50 miles or so each way, I’d be seeking out a car with more range than the E-Golf.

The E-Golf isn’t the perfect car if you want to do long trips. It’s EPA estimated driving range is 125 miles. The charging infrastructure across North America has improved significantly, but you still have to plan ahead. We also have a Volkswagen Atlas in our garage that we use for trips up to the cottage with the whole family – but even then sometimes we’ll use the E-Golf, charge along the way, and plug it in while we’re at the cottage, because of how much we save on fuel.

What’s Your Favorite Thing About Your EV?

There are so many great things about driving an all-electric car. The instantaneous power and torque means the E-Golf is a lot of fun to drive; people are always surprised at how quickly it will scoot away from a traffic light. But more important is the convenience. This sounds sort of like a first-world problem solved, but I love not having to freeze my hands while pumping gas during the winter, and I love never having to stop at gas stations. My previous two Golfs were diesels because they had the longest range, which meant fewer stops – now I have no stops at all!

Many regions, including where I live, offer EV drivers the benefit of driving in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes even when driving alone, which has saved me tons of time over the years, on top of all the money I have saved on fuel. Many downtown parking garages offer dedicated electric vehicle parking with chargers right near the exits. You feel like a VIP, especially if you’re going to a concert, hockey game, or other event where finding parking is usually a challenge. And, when you’re often driving a car full of screaming kids, the silence that you get in an electric car when you’re by yourself is fantastic!

What Surprised You About Driving an EV?

On the plus side, I didn’t realize how much I would be saving on maintenance. Even if you make a trip to the dealer every few months for a simple oil change, the cost can quickly add up. I figure I’m ahead hundreds of dollars every year. Plus, not having to go to the dealership for service is a time savings added convenience.

I wasn’t quite prepared for how different the E-Golf’s range would be in the winter versus in the summer. I guess the same is true for gasoline cars, we just don’t notice it as much. Depending on the temperature, my range can drop by about 40 miles on a cold day versus on a perfect summer day. Lower range in cold weather comes from a few factors; the winter tires have more rolling resistance, and the heater, defroster, and seat heaters all put a greater electrical load on the battery. That said, even in the winter, the E-Golf still has more than enough range for my daily routine.

How Often Do You Charge It? Do You Charge It at Home?

I have a relatively new home, and it already had a 220-volt outlet in the garage when I got the e-Golf. So, installing a charger at home was the easiest thing in the world. Volkswagen recommended a universal Flo charger; it’s simple and effective, without an app or any additional features, but it does the job. I plug in every night when I get home, and based on my normal routine, the car is fully charged in about three hours.

When we go to my mom and dad’s cottage in the e-Golf, we charge the car on a regular 120-volt outlet, using a level one charger. That takes 24 hours for a full charge, but when we’re at the cottage, the car is parked for that long anyway, so it’s not a big deal. Even though I’ve said the e-Golf isn’t the best car for long trips, we actually do a fair number of them, because of the savings versus using our gasoline SUV. At a high-power DC charging station, half an hour is enough to pump up the range to complete the journey. And you have to stop anyway for a snack at to have a rest stop.

How Has Owning an EV Changed How You View Personal Transportation?

It may sound funny to say this, but I never thought about the environment when I decided to go with an electric car. It was more about my curiosity about the new technology, the cool factor, and also about reduced costs. The more you drive, the more you save compared to gasoline, to the point where we’re using the E-Golf for trips we never thought we’d use it for. Gas prices are going through the roof at the moment, so the savings are real. And you’re not just saving on gas, you’re saving on maintenance costs too.

Owning an EV has made driving just so much more convenient than before. Really, all you do is drive. You don’t need to go to gas stations, you don’t need to go for oil changes. Really, the only time you need to go to the dealer is when you want your next car. Plus, there are so many perks right now that come with EV ownership, including reserved parking, access to HOV lanes, and even free high-speed charging in some places. Our local IKEA has high-speed DC chargers that you can use at no cost. Some of these benefits may go away over time as electric cars become more common, but they make the experience special now, and I take advantage of them whenever I can.

It took a while to get used to driving an electric car. I was nervous about the shorter range, finding public charging, and other factors. But you soon get over the range anxiety because you’re charging at home every day, and leaving with a full “tank” every morning, while the public charging infrastructure continues to improve.

I still worry a bit about the life of the battery in the car. There’s an eight-year warranty, but what happens after 10 years, or 15 years? Will it still have the same range? Will it have any issues? And will our grid be able to keep up with the demand as more people switch to electric driving?

Are You Likely to Buy Another EV in the Future?

I’ve already got another electric Volkswagen on order. The ID.4 I’m waiting on has a range of about 260 miles on a charge, and it’s an SUV body shape, which will be great as the kids keep growing, with plenty of space for hockey bags in the back. The ID.4 will replace our VW Atlas but I think I’ll keep the E-Golf as my commuter car. It still runs great, it meets all of my daily needs, it hasn’t needed maintenance, and I really like driving it.

Thanks Oleh! If you’d like to share your EV adventures, we’d love to hear from you. Just send an email to info@greencars.com. We’d love to see a photo of you with your electric car, too!