My first non local trip Driving Electric. SHOCK!
Electric Car Journey, Result - SHOCKING!
To make my position clear, I love my new electric Nissan Leaf. It performs extremely well and is saving me over three hundred pounds a month.
BUT, I now have concerns regarding the support out there on the highway, Why? Because I have just had a great day ruined due to the charging system dismally failing me, the public EV user.
Let me run through the days events with you. Last Saturday 7th December, I organised a trip to Ealing in the London region to celebrate my daughters birthday. With me, my wife and another daughter prepared for the trip, drink etc and with the car fully charged we set off from Gloucester. I knew that the Motorway services had a RAPID charger at each location and the mileage to each was well within the driving range of the car. The mileage from my house to my daughters house was 110 miles.
We passed Swindon and joined the M4 at junction 15. We travelled along the M5 and pulled in at the Membury Services for a coffee and a recharge so that we had enough for the remainder journey. All looking great at this point and feeling good. The trip in a normal car is 1 1/2 hours door to door and allowing one and maybe two electric top ups, we should get there in just over two hours.
We continued on towards London and I had a target of Heston Motorway Service a few miles inside the M25. With a charge up there, we would have enough to run around inner London with no issues, as I had also registered with SourceLondon, which is a network of charges all over London. But then the day started to go wrong. The charger was not working. Although it shows on the map, the charger is not yet operational. There it stands, just not working. Well this was an issue as I had 19 miles left to run. After speaking with the Electric Highway man on the phone, I was advised to 'cross over' the Motorway to the west Services as that was working. The cross over took us eight miles to reach the other side, wonderful! Very complicated route and the battery was draining.
My daughters house was 9 miles away so I dropped off my wife and daughter. I looked up SourceLondon charge points and found one half a mile away, Great! Along I went and found it, parked up and went to connect. OMG, NO LEADS. You have to have your own lead to connect. Oh, I have one in the boot that came with the car, NO GOOD! You need a seven pin plug, not the 3 pin with the car. I spoke with someone at Sourcelondon that had a heavy foreign accent who informed me that there are several DIFFERENT types of charger needing different plugs. Unbelievable Mr Boris Johnson, if you have a system, make sure it is all the same. 9 miles left!
Ok, I thought, off I went. I found the Services with nothing left on the dash. I charged up full load and returned to the daughters house. All of this has taken quite a long time and there was not enough time to visit Hyde Park for the Christmas markets. We went for a small lunch in a local cafe, Nice day this is.
After spending a short time back at the house, we decided it would be a good idea to set off home.
We left at 17.45 and topped again at the westbound Heston Services (just in case). Good job because at the next Motorway services Membury, the charger was defective with a grounding fault, 00.000030.
We spoke again with the Electric Highway man on the phone, who advised to proceed to the next services on the M4 which was the Leigh Delamare services. This was 24 miles away with us having 19 miles on the clock. Off went the heater, radio and we had to drive at 45 MPH to conserve battery.
We reached the services with nothing on the clock. OMG! I am getting it in the ear from my wife and daughter, she starts work at 22.30 and it's 21.30 now.
After being advised (again) to get over the other side of the motorway by the service bridge, we charged up to 70 miles. This should get us to the M5 Michaelwood services 35 miles away.
We set off and was then diverted off the motorway at junction 19 as motorway closed (small scream building) and continued in silence until the service area was approaching on the M5. Even though the meter said we had enough to reach home, I decided a ten minute top up was needed just in case.
We finally arrived home at 23.45, SIX HOURS after we had left on a maximum journey of two and a half hours. My daughter got to work an hour and a half late and my wife went straight to bed without a word.
The ELECTRIC HIGHWAY must be in better condition to support the public use of travellers with electric vehicles. Hopefully the faulty chargers have been repaired. Hopefully Electric Highway have a rapid response to getting them repaired.
SourceLondon are in need of a serious re-think. Universal plug sockets and Rapid chargers are needed. What use is a four hour charger to the traveller in the London regions when they are passing through?
What this experience has shown me is that there is no central organisation looking out for the Electric Car traveller. I would suggest that only one charger (RAPID) is installed anywhere. It must have leads fitted to fit all future models of vehicle. Manufacturers of cars, PLEASE SPEAK TO EACH OTHER and share the technology to share chargers.
I would suggest that recovery agents such as RAC, AA and GREEN FLAG collectively, are utilised to oversee and possibly maintain the Electric Highway Network Chargers along with London and every other area in the UK.
Until the system is stable, I shall be staying fairly locall.
Last edited by Londongeezer; 18-12-13 at 15:19.
I'm sorry you had such a bad day, Londongeezer, especially because it was a special occasion.
Regrettably, though, you have just illustrated one of my bugbears about electric vehicles. I agree they are good for short town/city running around but, as you found out, all sorts of issues can make longer journeys the stuff of nightmares. As at least half of my journeys are over long distances (usually just under 200 miles), having an EV would be both impractical and downright nonsensical. The business, too, about the different types of chargers needed. Case in point on the island. One local bought an EV but his charger won't fit the public charging points. As for London being so disorganised....!!
I don't know much about these vehicles, but reading this story - a nightmare then, but a good story now I think - I wondered if it would be possible to carry a generator for emergency use.
Excellent idea. Carry a small petrol engine. Er ...
Originally Posted by Santa
The issue with these electric cars on longer runs was well covered on an episode of Top Gear, where the issue of recharging was exposed as being the only major problem with them.
Not the only major problem. There was the small matter of the considerable cost of replacement batteries as well.
Originally Posted by smudger
I am surprised that such a simple matter of a connecting lead and plug should be so ridiculously structured. A friend of mine had an electric Transit Connect for a weekend, and he was given a lead with a standard 13A three-pin plug on the end, (The transformer was built into the van.) He called the people who run the London system and was told that they had no socket for his plug, and, at that time, no plans to fit them. The Ford dealer was most upset when he took it back and told them he didn't want it.
Sorry to hear about your spoiled day out. I assume that you bought an electric car with good intentions but who generates the electric to charge it, what happens to the finished time batteries and why do they cause more pollution in manufacture to the environment? James May had the best idea that is used in most railway diesel locomotives, consisting of a diesel engine to generate power for an electric motor. Not rocket science as English Electric were making such locos in the 1950's. The one downside with diesel locos is that at speed and fully laden (90-100mph) they can use up to 16 gallons per mile.
I think the best bet these days is either a fully diesel or petrol powered vehicle. Vauxhall have a 2.0ltr Insignia capable of over 70 mpg. My diesel Passat achieved nearly 70 mpg in the summer on a trip to Cornwall. Pretty cheap motoring with very light carbon emission.
Reading this electrifying saga has illuminated to me a major reason to stay on "gas", and apply firm resistance to being tempted to buy a car that would make me afraid to stray far from ohm!
Ho Ho Ho!
Originally Posted by Snowball
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