Daily Driving an e-Rod? We tried.
We like to test cars that are weird, interesting and fun. In February 2021 we got to test the Kyburz e-Rod for the day. That experience was so amazing, that we had to get our hands on it for another time, and this time for a longer time. Unfortunately, we had to test it in October. So that meant thick gloves, jacket, boots and beanie. We knew it was going to be cold!
But let's first tell you why the e-Rod is such an extreme car to drive, especially in late October. The e-Rod is a fully electric and super light toy for your local B-Roads. There's no real way to explain it in words, you just have to see it in pictures or for yourself to comprehend what it is. Its purpose is pure fun. It's powered by a single electric motor at the rear axle producing 60ps and with a weight of 600kg, the e-Rod accelerates from 0 - 100km/h in just under 10 seconds. The added weight of the battery might be something good, otherwise, it would fly away in a breeze because it's so light. Due to the lack of weight and a purpose-built chassis (developed in-house), the e-Rod is the best handling car we've tested yet. Of course the Caterham we tested in August is quite a bit faster, the e-Rod focuses more on pure driving enjoyment and fun. Since there is no combustion engine roaring away, you hear every little thing happening in the suspension, steering and tires. Although the electric motor is very noticeable, it is not the main occasion of the experience.
Built by Kyburz themselves in Embrach, Switzerland, the e-Rod is one of the few cars today that are made in Switzerland. But this car is so undeniably Swiss-made. No other country would be mad enough to mass-produce such an absurd car. Atom has tried but it's too expensive to ever be mass-produced. Kyburz produces the e-Rods to order and takes a couple of months to be manufactured.
We wanted our second e-Rod experience to be more about how it would be to actually own the car. Our first outing with it was all about the drive; twisty roads, sunshine and fun. Our first experience with the e-Rod was brief, but now we had time to do the stuff which an owner would do with their e-Rod.
First of all was charging. We knew this was going to be a challenge because the drive from Kyburz' Headquarters to our home was a healthy 2-hour drive. We wanted to avoid the motorway because the roads were wet, it was 5 pm on a Friday and the e-Rod's top speed is 120km/h. Since the e-Rod's battery only allows for a range of 180km, planning your trip is crucial. The range itself isn't really the problem, it's the 7kw charging speed. If you want to charge your e-Rod, it'll take more than two hours to charge from empty. This poses a real problem when you want to drive to a nice mountain pass that's relatively far away. You'll use a lot of energy if you go via the motorway and use even more energy when you drive up the nice roads. So you really have to plan ahead of your trip. Thus long road trips are nearly impossible. A bigger battery wouldn't really be necessary, but a faster-charging speed would be very helpful. This means the e-Rod is mainly made for the occasional Sunday drive on the local windy roads. If you plan on doing longer journeys, a support car would be very helpful or you'll have to have a really long lunch so that your e-Rod has enough juice to continue if there's a suitable charging station!
And now to practicality. The e-Rod is a strict two-seater with buckets and harnesses. No conventional seatbelts here. You need to strap in and get comfortable before you drive it, and comfort is an overstatement. We still tried to make it work in the real world. There is a small luggage compartment in the back for your cables, maybe a jacket and our camera gear. You won't need more space because this car isn't made for road trips. In terms of in-car storage, it's pretty limited. We highly suggest you store everything in the back and in your pockets.
Driving around town in the e-Rod is surprisingly easy. The lack of power-steering does make it difficult to maneuver at low speeds, but when you're just navigating the city it's easy since the car is very small and you have very good visibility all around. We took it through a drive-through and there you really feel the lack of power steering, plus the turning radius isn't great. You do need some glasses to protect yourself from the wind and debris being shot up from the front tires because the e-Rod does not have a windshield. It does have some small wind deflectors, so at lower speeds, you can communicate with your passenger. At higher speeds though, you really need to shout to hear anything.
While testing this car in October, the temperatures were less than ideal. Luckily we didn't have any rain, but imagine that! You need some warm clothes to drive this car in the winter.
Our long-term conclusion of the e-Rod is that it's very good. But only at certain things. It's the perfect car for a casual summer's drive. It can be other things, but then you're testing its limits. We hope we can take the e-Rod for a summer drive once, stay tuned for that review!