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Discussion Starter #1
Hello,
I am a reporter on the business desk at the Daily Mail newspaper. I am working on a piece about the UK's EV charging infrastructure and how easy it is to use. I'm keen to hear from as many EV drivers as possible on their experiences to make sure I get across the real picture. For example, is it a problem that networks are owned / run by so many different companies? Do you find yourself having to have several subscription / RFID cards / apps? Does this deter you from taking journeys / buying a car?
Hugely grateful for a quick chat on phone / by email with any drivers on these forums.
My deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday.
With thanks and regards,
Rachel Millard
City reporter, Daily Mail
Tel 07899 096 602 / 020 3615 4973
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hello,
I am a reporter on the business desk at the Daily Mail newspaper. I am working on a piece about the UK's EV charging infrastructure and how easy it is to use. I'm keen to hear from as many EV drivers as possible on their experiences to make sure I get across the real picture. For example, is it a problem that networks are owned / run by so many different companies? Do you find yourself having to have several subscription / RFID cards / apps? Does this deter you from taking journeys / buying a car?
Hugely grateful for a quick chat on phone / by email with any drivers on these forums.
My deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday.
With thanks and regards,
Rachel Millard
City reporter, Daily Mail
Tel 07899 096 602 / 020 3615 4973
 

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Hello,
I am a reporter on the business desk at the Daily Mail newspaper. I am working on a piece about the UK's EV charging infrastructure and how easy it is to use. I'm keen to hear from as many EV drivers as possible on their experiences to make sure I get across the real picture. For example, is it a problem that networks are owned / run by so many different companies? Do you find yourself having to have several subscription / RFID cards / apps? Does this deter you from taking journeys / buying a car?
Hugely grateful for a quick chat on phone / by email with any drivers on these forums.
My deadline is tomorrow, Wednesday.
With thanks and regards,
Rachel Millard
City reporter, Daily Mail
Tel 07899 096 602 / 020 3615 4973
Reading this forum reveals loads of info on this. BEVs rely on rapid charging to make any journey beyond normal range and the present situation where Ecotricity have a virtual monopoly of Motorway Service Area chargers is now holding things back, several years ago they started the whole thing off but now seem to have lost interest. A staggering number of their chargers are on free vend due to lack of mobile connection.

Yes I have several cards and aps on my phone, you need that.

I my opinion the general public have no idea how good EVs are and most of the motor dealers have little interest in Promoting them. Having your car pre heated and defrosted when you set off on a winters morning is fabulous. They seem much faster than the figures would suggest. Silent when stopped and so quiet and smooth. Cost very little to run.
 

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I'm not crazy, the attack has begun.
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There are threads and threads of anecdotes that are now made public by their authors. You can sit here until midnight still reading them all. You are not going to get a coherent conversation in just a day, but if you read past threads you will.

What you need to include;-

Ecotricity have monopolising motorway service stations and are sitting on contracts preventing others from expanding there. Highways England are refusing to exercise any power over their licencees at these sites to dent this. Ecotricity have been market leads and have really made things possible in the first couple of years, but the scant few chargers that are there now are unreliable and badly supported. So their 'Electric Highway' is now preventing EV growth not helping it. They used to have a connection charge which helped discourage 'PHEV' hoggers who block chargers for battery electric vehicles (BEVs). PHEV charge slowly and have poor electric range, they are better on motorways just to keep driving on petrol and not stop to prevent BEVs using the points.

BP Chargemaster Polar have been developing a network and buying up others. Some of the sites for these are terrible, for example a funded project for 5 sites in Worcestershire put half of them behind locked gates for most of 24hours, and many of the others were put in locations of such poor electricity supply that they were only allowed to charge at half the possible rate. Polar have been installing more chargers recently and they run a subscription service that works for some users but others think the £8 a month charge is too much to run their £30k cars.

New entrants such as instavolt are doing good things by introducing 'ad hoc' chargers where anyone can charge without making subscription payments, but at a high cost per kWh. Considering the service offered, the price is not too bad.

The most feared problems for charging you EV are not necessarily the mix of different companies, it is whether the charge points are working, because reliability has been shocking (especially Ecotricity) and no-one like OLEV are holding them to account. The next fear is being blocked by an ICE (internal combusion car) by idiots that often wilfully block the chargers. The next problem is with PHEVs that charge so slowly that it is virtually the same, and lastly is other BEV drivers themselves who don't actually need to charge, they are just getting a free charge at a local supermarket when other people passing by might really actually need to charge.

A new problem to emerge is that some cars are poorly designed and charge too slowly. The new Leaf will not charge at the advertised speed if it gets a bit warm, which it usually does after the first charge on the motorway.

Chargers themselves rarely deliver the advertised rate, in theory they should deliver 50kW but most don't go over 44kW. When they do, even without overheating, it will not charge at that rate for all of the battery charge, so it is not possible to charge up fully and repeat the same mileage, instead you have to stop and charge only half the battery at a time. Even cars that are supposed to be able to charge at 100kW can only manage 60kW or so on chargers that are supposed to be able to do that. This is like some hidden secret that the manufacturers don't want buyers to know, they need to come clean on exactly how fast their cars are going to charge at and not talk it off casually when the cars can't do that. If you bought a car to drive at 70mph you would rightly complain if it could only do that for a few miles and then it slowed down to 50mph on the motorway, so why are EV manufacturers getting away with this? (answer; it is still not understood properly by consumers, so they are getting away with it).

All these things are easily solvable but needs the Government to get organised. OLEV has been dishing out grants for cars and chargers, but has not held anyone to account for failing to deliver to the grant requirements. For example, they issue funding for 50kW chargers and only get 22kW or 44kW charge points. They give grants for cars on the condition they have warranty for 5 years on the high voltage parts of the car, yet companies like BMW only offer 3 year and are getting away with it. Vauxhall have been repeatedly denying owners of Amperas basic repairs on high voltage components for years. Renault have downgraded their warranty from 4 years to 3. Meanwhile the Government's OLEV looks on and refuses to intervene and get the tax payer's money worth out of these companies.
 

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Rachel, there are multiple issues but I think the biggest one at present is as said the Ecotricity pseudo monopoly on motorway service areas. That by itself wouldn't be an issue if EH had more chargers per location*, and more chargers that worked, if they had 24x7 phone service (sometimes stuck chargers can be fixed by a remote "reboot"), and if they were expanding their charging network to new locations. Of course as you may gather they are doing none of those and by dint of their monopoly aren't allowing anyone else to put a better solution in. It would also help if chargers were unde cover and not situated such that with any rain you are standing in the open ina puddle trying to charge (yes Membury eastbound that's you)

The situation by the way is even worse if you consider that the incoming European wide standard CCS is very badly catered for yet all new cars pretty much (AIUI) have to have a CCS plug. And EHs network is mostly the competing standard, chademo, very few CCS and no sign of CCS being rolled out.

First thing to do, hold EH to account for their dismal record and if they don't improve rapidly, kick them out and get someone else in who will perform to standards on reliability, maintenance, number of chargers, "policing" charging areas to make sure they aren't ICEd and expanding the network.

The other annoyance you'll find frequently mentioned here is the insistence on providers making you use a smartphone and app to pay rather than just a debit or credit card. That leads into issues with incompatible phones, no service in some areas, and basically a lot of complexity paying when there should be none.

* if there are only one or two chargers ata location, how high is your confidence that at least one will be working and won't be ICEd ? At membury services for example there are just two chargers for all cars, and in contrast a Tesla area with 8 chargers. Somehow Tesla have evaded the monopoly. At Southampton services there is a single charger. Imagine if a motorway services had just one petrol pump !
 

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Hi Rachel,

Such a short deadline doesn't give enough time to get a real feel of this debacle. Basically, the charging infrastructure is a mess. I note that you drive a V60 plug-in so it's possible that you are already aware of some of the issues. The best you will be able to do is touch on each of the various aspects that cause frustration to EV owners.

As a taster, here is a quick off the cuff list of the main topics contributing to the overall debacle. Not in any particular order and by no means a full list. Each heading will have many sub-divisions of aggravation as well. And each deserves a 'piece' in its own right.

#1 Ecotricity's monopoly on motorway chargers.
#2 Reliability of chargers.
#3 Gov't grants creating overkill in some small areas and deserts in others.
#4 Confusion over access with multiple subs/apps reliant on comms that are themselves unreliable.
#5 Poor to non-existent systems to prevent charge blocking by petrol cars.
#6 Absence of central direction over the entire subject.
#7 Parking regulations conflicting with charging requirements.
#8 Conflict over car charge plugs and systems.
#9 Accurate and up to date information on serviceability and availability of chargers en route.
#10 Proper arrangements for EV drivers without off-road drives to charge overnight in streets.

Perhaps you can angle your column to highlight the scale of the problem and then persuade your editor to let you do an in-depth investigation into each separate issue over 10 weeks. But the deeper that you research this subject the more you will uncover other problems that I have missed in the few minutes thought I have given to this list.

There are many forum members in here who would be more than willing to elaborate on each topic as each is a particular hobby horse for some. Please don't hesitate to ask as we are keen to shine a light on this thorny problem with a hope that eventually someone will take notice because it could be preventing many thousands of potential EV owners from making the change.

Without the various complications being sorted out there will be a tendency towards Plug-in hybrids so that the petrol engine can overcome the shortcomings of the charge infrastructure. That isn't the way to clean up our air.
 

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The writers above sum up the problems very well.
Until more multiple chargers are installed with the CCS plug, and are then maintained efficiently things can not improve. Ecotricity have turned from the charging company angel to the villain. We also need standard debit/credit card payments without multiple apps, RFID cards etc. We need to be able to charge as simply as refuelling a petrol car.
 

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Scotland CPS works well, now try to rely on Instavolt on my routes. Greatest problem though is fossil fuel climate change, so electric running off home solar and green energy on the road is an enormous improvement.
 

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My take is that it's a bit of a chicken and egg scenario - the charging folks can't go all out on a massive install, because there aren't enough EV's out there, and the EV manufacturers won't go all out because battery costs keep profits down, but also because they think the charging infrastructure can't cope !!
 

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Setting ‘sustainable’ pricing will also be critical. The charges should cover the electricity and maintenance costs - when the chargepoint is located in a popular spot. The ‘free’ charging has to stop... doesn’t make sense to give away electricity!
 

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Setting ‘sustainable’ pricing will also be critical. The charges should cover the electricity and maintenance costs - when the chargepoint is located in a popular spot. The ‘free’ charging has to stop... doesn’t make sense to give away electricity!
Not only that it encourages perverse behavior such as people drivings several miles away from their house (where they can charge but at their cost) to save two or three £, and meaning someone who actually needs to charge, either en route or no charger at home, cannot.
 

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I missed this but glad everyone made some good points, especially pointing out what a shower of s**t EH are. I may purchase a copy of the Daily Fail to see what gets used !.

Chargers themselves rarely deliver the advertised rate, in theory they should deliver 50kW but most don't go over 44kW. When they do, even without overheating, it will not charge at that rate for all of the battery charge, so it is not possible to charge up fully and repeat the same mileage, instead you have to stop and charge only half the battery at a time. Even cars that are supposed to be able to charge at 100kW can only manage 60kW or so on chargers that are supposed to be able to do that. This is like some hidden secret that the manufacturers don't want buyers to know, they need to come clean on exactly how fast their cars are going to charge at and not talk it off casually when the cars can't do that. If you bought a car to drive at 70mph you would rightly complain if it could only do that for a few miles and then it slowed down to 50mph on the motorway, so why are EV manufacturers getting away with this? (answer; it is still not understood properly by consumers, so they are getting away with it).
Mine goes like a bat out of hell (96kw peak) to (an indicated) 100% but then I am carting around an extra 15kWh of cells to make that happen !.

Somehow Tesla have evaded the monopoly.
They paid the piper to get access but we will never know the details. Another thread on here, someone who had borrowed the Polar MS commented that superchargers were in rubbish locations, yeah, that will be because of EH.
 

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They paid the piper to get access but we will never know the details. Another thread on here, someone who had borrowed the Polar MS commented that superchargers were in rubbish locations, yeah, that will be because of EH.
I dont think so, because the rubbish locations weren't at MSAs.
 

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^ The rubbish location are rubbish locations because they could not be at MSA's due to EH. Tesla are then limited to locations just off the motorway where there is a sufficient power supply. The MSA superchargers where I assume Tesla have paid EH for access are great, 8+ chargers and MSA facilities. It could all be like that, Polar, Instavolt, Pod Point etc at MSA's if EH had not put the boot in with its exclusivity agreement. Rapids should be at MSA's and A road services to allow for long distance travel. Instead we have a hotch potch of locations such as supermarkets, hotels, restaurant chains etc where they are more likely to be blocked and are generally in less convenient locations for long distance travel.
 

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Just to add my two pen'north, newspapers and car magazines seem to focus on the issues posted above, but ignore that most people actually do the large majority of their charging at home overnight. EV drivers can start every day with a full tank of electrons, so charging "on the go" is less of an issue than some think. Also, more and more hotels are providing some from of car charging facility, usually free of charge. Even if it is just a three pin plug outlet in the hotel car park, it is still very convenient.
 
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