Next day we load the car and set off for our ‘staycation’. The battery range reads 70 miles but almost as soon as we pull away it drops down to 50.
‘Why is it dropping so fast?’ I ask.
We consult the handbook. ‘Pro’ is the best setting for battery economy and we’re on the default setting ‘Comfort.’ It’s 35 degrees but we try turning off the air con. The battery range begins to creep up. With a few adjustments and the air con set at a miserly 25, we eek out the mileage and make it to Cobham services.
The charger terminal here is owned by Ecotricity so we have to download another app. Apart from a message to say our car is not compatible and won’t charge quite as fast as it should, it seems to be working. We leave the car charging and go to find the loos and a coffee.
The charge takes 45 mins. We get 7.9 kWh for £2.37. Bargain!
As we pull away we note the battery range reads 53 miles. This is not enough to cover the remaining journey. We’ll have to stop again.
The battery economy seems quite good on the motorway. The battery self-charges whenever you take your foot off the accelerator. We stop again at Oxford Services. There’s a charge point but it’s in use and the man has only just started, so we drive on to Oxford Pear Tree. This is also in use but the lady says she’ll only be another 15 minutes. There’s nothing nearer our destination so we wait. The distance between Cobham and here was 60 miles and the battery range still shows 20 so we’ve done well.
We plug in but the Ecotricity app tells us the charger’s already in use. It doesn’t seem to have cleared when the lady finished. We fiddle with it for some time. It appears to be charging but I suspect only slowly and someone else is now queuing to use the charger.
We give up and limp on to Woodstock where we park up. The hotel doesn’t have a charger and the home charger is useless away from home – we can’t exactly knock on someone’s door. We’ve got two days before we have to go anywhere so we’ll worry about it then. Meanwhile, lead me to the gin bar…
After two days in Woodstock visiting Blenheim Palace and gardens, we head off on our journey home. We locate a charge point on the A44 at Yarnton. Zap-Map tells us it’s a Polar charger but luckily there’s an option to pay with a debit card. We have a successful charge of 11.90kWh in 55 minutes for £3.57.
We stop again at Runnymede Hotel on the M25. This is a BPChargemaster but it won’t work.
- It says it’s in use (it isn’t)
- It says I need to swipe the charger with my card, but it won’t accept my debit card.
We ring the help number on the charger and the man is very helpful. He tells us sometimes the chargers don’t clear but he can fix that remotely. The card is another issue. Apparently, this is a special card that will be sent to me. As I downloaded the app a few days before, he’s willing to check the status of my application. A few moments later he’s able to confirm I’m approved and he sets up the unit to charge.
We go into the hotel and enjoy lunch overlooking the canal. If we don’t have lunch, we’ll be charged £40 for parking to use the charger. I guess we have to get used to two-hour car drives taking four and a half hours, but there are worse ways of whiling away an hour.
We have another successful charge of 11.10kWh in 55 minutes for £3.56.
I’ve come to realise that saving the planet is not easy, but I’m reasonably confident that these charging issues are teething problems and once we know what we’re doing, life with our electric car will become easier.
Meanwhile here are my top tips:
- Be aware that not all filling stations have chargers.
- Be aware that not all chargers have leads.
- Download Zap-Map before taking delivery of your electric car and research which EV charging company apps you’re most likely to use. Download these apps and register in advance.
- The apps sometimes tell you a charger is free but if there are three types of charger lead on one terminal it won’t let you use it if someone’s already using one of the other leads. I’m unclear yet whether this is the case everywhere – or perhaps it’s a COVID restriction?
- If you’re going to charge your car ‘out and about’ purchase your own charging lead and carry it with you.
- Order a home charger. Decide in advance whether you want tethered or untethered -see pros and cons. Be aware they’ll take your money up-front and it might be several weeks before they supply and install your home charger.