I gave up gas guzzlers and thought you might be interested in the views of an electric car owner. I changed to eco-friendly motoring about a year ago and I’ve not looked back. I’ve crisscrossed the country for work and pleasure with my children in my Zoe and more recently my new Leaf. There is much written and recorded about these sort of experiences and I won’t replicate them here other than to simply say you can easily adapt and live with an EV without any real compromise. They are also cost neutral / cheaper to run than the old world gas guzzlers.
There are a few things I didn’t know about EV’s when I bought mine and I wanted to share as it maybe of interest and were not widely covered elsewhere:
They are fun. Serious fun. If not a petrol head, skip to point 2 now… you get max torque at zero RPM. Imagine the sweet spot on you turbo diesel when overtaking, but across the whole speed range! Oh, and no noise and no tailpipe emissions! I drive sensibly (I promise), but if you floor the leaf at 30 mph, you may well spin your tyres in dry conditions. I keep mine in the green eco mode for that reason (otherwise about 150BHP). I see the 2019 ER version gives even more power at 200BHP. The petrol / diesel has a limited power band for max power… not so with the EV. That’s before you get into a Tesla…
They don’t just charge at the maximum charge rate quoted. If you are doing a long journey, run your battery down to 15-20% then rapid charge… you will easily add 50% of capacity in the time it takes to queue and drink a hot latte in Starbucks. If you are at 50% and want to charge to 100%, then you may have to have a three course dinner with your latte! Why is this? Put simply, consider it like it being quicker to half fill a bucket without spilling when the bucket is empty compared to half filling to full without spilling… you need to slow the flow rate!
There are a lot of charge points out there now… at hotels / garden centers all over… plan your route wisely and you find yourself in some very nice places. Glamping, but with chargers… need a new word here! Virtually every major service station has multiple rapid chargers.
Splash and Dash – or is that Spark and Drive? If you are calling in to a services for 10 mins, drive to the very front, park near the door, plug in (which takes < 1 min typically) and don’t be afraid to only do short charges. Bonus? You have less far to walk and less people bang into your car. Downside? My step count is lower! Even the 100 year old garage across the road from my kid’s primary school has two state of the art rapid chargers… I get about 20-30% charge in the time it takes to drop my kids at school and as a bonus… a guaranteed space on the school run!
My kids love it… ever since they learned of pollution they only want to go by EV. Also, because it’s completely smooth, they don’t get car sick. That is a bonus as any parent will attest!
No more scraping ice. Ever. No more getting into a hot cabin. Ever. Don’t underestimate how much you will miss this luxury once you have gotten used to it (which took me about 1 day!).
Don’t be afraid to use all the toys, A/C and heaters… yes, I could go 10 miles more on a charge, but seriously, there are so many chargers now the cost is so low and the machine so efficient, why would you not? Enjoy the luxury.
Bigger battery = bigger range… sure, but also a longer charging time. Assuming you are charging the empty bucket way (pt 2 above), your will likely see a similar charge time for a similar number of additional miles of range. Plug in your 60kWh on a 3 pin plug and you are going to be there all weekend… plan ahead! Yes the next generation of chargers are in the works and will be much faster…
You should be prepared to pay for the speed of charge, not the energy you add. Sure I can charge at home for c. 13p/kWh (all renewable of course) – motorway rapids typically charge around 30-35p/kWh. Remember though the amount of energy transfer is maybe 9 times more than at your home wall charger. My pattern? Charge overnight (or at work) where it’s cheap and you are not in a hurry, then use rapids to top up whilst you are out and about on the motorway network.
EV drivers are on the whole a nice relaxed bunch of ethical people. It doesn’t seem to matter if you drive a Zoe or a Tesla X. It seems universal. This is not always my experience with our oil fuelled friends! I am sure there is a grumpy EV driver out there… just have not met them yet.
People look at you confused when they see your silent future car glide in and plug in. Many ask questions… EV drivers please answer them! I have been both the confused onlooker and the guy giving the explanation in recent years. Thanks to the strangers who talked to me, they sparked me on my EV journey.
Watch for silly prices and rules. This falls into several categories:
Connection charges… anything form 0p to £1.00 are common before you pay for your energy. Be cautious where you Spark and Drive (splash and dash) or your money won’t give an economic top up when a charger has a high connection charge
Energy charges – certain oil companies put rapid chargers in then expect you to pay 50-60p/kWh… no thank you. I note these ripoffs are rare now… probably because EV drivers are a savvy bunch and they have lowered their prices!
Watch for parking restrictions – I used a hotel rapid charger, bought a coffee in the hotel and came back to a parking ticket. Yes they apologised and refunded the loss (no hard feelings), but watch for those nasty clamper companies!
Max connection time- in Dorset, I came across chargers where hour two starts charging at £10 per hour! I understand why (don’t block the charger all day please), but if you are a minute over and there is no queue, then it’s a bit harsh
Drive safely out there and if you’ve never tried an EV, just test one… you will never buy a petrol / diesel car again…