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RickG
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Hello to you all. I have just signed up to the forum as I am doing some research for a project I am working on that is looking at the future of EV's and in particular the charging methods available in the UK.

I do not own an EV myself (yet) and would be very interested to hear what your overall experience of EV ownership is, how you use your EV i.e. for short, local trips or for longer journeys, and if you think EV ownership will continue to grow and become more mainstream?

In particular I would be interested to hear what your experience is with charging. Do you think the present network of charging posts is efficient and convenient, are they in the right places and how would you like to see the charging network develop in future?

Also, what do you consider are the main limitations or inconveniences with EV ownership and what needs to change to make ownership more appealing.

I appreciate any comments and thank you for your input.

Richard Gordon
 

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It takes too long to charge and there are too many single points of failure. I just did a 320 mile round trip and it took an extra five hours compared with a petrol car. I had to make five stops, each for 35-45 minutes. If I had had workplace charging I could have skipped two of those stops (I charged on the way in and way out of work at an Ecotricity point - I had to do it both ways to ensure I could get back to where I started).

You can't change the laws of physics, so you can't make en-route charging any quicker. But you can put more points in so I can choose when to stop. Look at the M6 where there are chargers every 10-20 miles. That takes out a lot of worry and means I can leave it until I am down to 20-25% battery before I stop, as if the charger is down then I can still make the next services

But I shouldn't have to worry about the charger being down, or blocked by someone else. More rapid chargers at each en-route location and more locations are both needed equally. Take the rapids away from the park-and-rides and other silly places and put them on the trunk network. Replace with destination chargers and ensure all new offices/residential builds include destination charging.
 

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Hello to you all. I have just signed up to the forum as I am doing some research for a project I am working on that is looking at the future of EV's and in particular the charging methods available in the UK.

I do not own an EV myself (yet) and would be very interested to hear what your overall experience of EV ownership is, how you use your EV i.e. for short, local trips or for longer journeys, and if you think EV ownership will continue to grow and become more mainstream?

In particular I would be interested to hear what your experience is with charging. Do you think the present network of charging posts is efficient and convenient, are they in the right places and how would you like to see the charging network develop in future?

Also, what do you consider are the main limitations or inconveniences with EV ownership and what needs to change to make ownership more appealing.

I appreciate any comments and thank you for your input.

Richard Gordon
There is a lot to say but most of it has been said before in various threads on this Forum. Everyone's experience will be different but the majority of cars are used primarily for local journeys and for this a BEV is a fine vehicle and can be charged at home. If you cannot charge at home then that is an issue. For occasional longer journeys the Electric Highway run by Ecotricity is useful but it will take longer than in an ICE.

The BEV has the fundamental drawback of not being ready to use if not charged, this happened to me this evening when I was asked if I could work and had to say no the car is not charged. I had plugged in on getting home but the car was waiting for the Economy 7 hours so had not taken charge. I suspect it would be better not to bother with Economy 7 as the pricing structure makes daytime power more expensive.

One of the best features of BEV is the pre-heat which means the car is always frost free before I leave for work in the morning and also comfy immediately.
 

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Overall experience of EV ownership

Excellent on the whole but you have to become a bit of an anorak when planning long journeys. When driving within about 30-40 miles of Glasgow, I am now totally anxiety-free because I always have enough charge, a good idea of how much charge I need, and I know where the main local rapid charge points are in the west of Scotland, plus I have a sense of what to do if the one I arrive at fails. But for longer distances you need, at a minimum:


1 to plan where the public charge posts are in every place you are driving to if there is a chance you won’t have enough charge to get back to where you started, and to have a back up plan (usually enough charge to cope if the first post you arrive at is broken).


2 a smartphone and several different apps if you are relying on public charging (Zap Map, Plugshare, Open Charge Map, some would say also Chargebump, plus the network providers themselves which depending on your location in the UK may include CYC, Ecotricity, Polar, Pod Point). Oh, and a well-charged handset.


3 to have a good idea of upcoming road conditions, especially off the motorway network, ie is it hilly, a good trunk road where you can do 50-60mph, or a slower, bendier route?


How I use my EV

Weekday use of 30-40 miles in and around Glasgow for work and personal use. It’s no problem at all and saves a fortune on fuel. My weekend use is variable but journeys of more than about 80 miles return (which I make less than monthly) take a lot of planning, as above.


Continued growth

On short journeys, most people sharing my car are really interested in the concept of EVs and are impressed with what they see, even in my wee Leaf. All those images of Renault Twizys and other concept toys have been bad for EV perception, in my opinion – for almost all of us, a car is not a novelty item and it should function similar to (or better than) any other car. Most people are really impressed when they see a normal car being driven in a normal way, only it’s electric. On longer journeys, I’ve seen this perception change over the course of half an hour when you pull off the road after an hour to recharge on state of the art “rapid” infrastructure that still lags far behind the petrol equivalent in speed and reliability. This is all the worse when no one is hungry or you’re not near a cafe. I have had quite a few people say they will consider an electric car for their next purchase; I think that longer range and far more rapid charge points - outside cities, on long distance routes - will see things really take off, plus the ever greater availability of used cars of reasonable quality, ie 2013-14 models that have depreciated in price.


Charging experiences - convenient, efficient, location, future

There are a couple of blackspots across the UK (parts of Wales, the Peak District, Lincolnshire) but most of the country now has a basic EV infrastructure, stretching to most towns and all cities, and the main barriers are reliability and capacity (number of cars that can be accommodated at one time).


A major annoyance (and barrier to journey times) is when you arrive and all the chargers are in use, especially at rapids. It is true that most Ecotricity motorway services now have two rapid chargers rather than one, and that is a big help, but in the seven months I have had an electric car, I have noticed more and more people using public charging infrastructure, including both urban 7kw posts and out of town rapids. The answer is continued development of new charge points and multiple charge points at key locations (motorway services, retail parks near major routes, and petrol garages), and the question will be who pays, particularly when government funding starts to dry up. I personally would happily pay £40-50 per month for a totally reliable network that ironed out all of the issues, even if we are stuck with 50kwh rapid charging as the best available technology.


Some folk will tell you that charger blockage is partly because other drivers are “selfish” in charging at public chargepoints when they could easily drive home to charge, but on the whole they have no proof that this is happening.


A related annoyance, which is worse, is when you arrive and charging spots are parked-in but not in use. At most sites (except city streets) there is virtually no enforcement of whether the vehicle parked in the charging space is actively using the charger, whether it is even an electric car at all, or whether it has been charging but its charging session has now ended because it has attained a full battery. I don’t know what the answer is but probably a mixture of public awareness/perception, parking enforcement (ticket wardens etc), and some technological fixes, eg a way of physically preventing non charging cars from malingering for hours, might help.
 

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Hello to you all. I have just signed up to the forum as I am doing some research for a project I am working on that is looking at the future of EV's and in particular the charging methods available in the UK.

I do not own an EV myself (yet) and would be very interested to hear what your overall experience of EV ownership is, how you use your EV i.e. for short, local trips or for longer journeys, and if you think EV ownership will continue to grow and become more mainstream?

In particular I would be interested to hear what your experience is with charging. Do you think the present network of charging posts is efficient and convenient, are they in the right places and how would you like to see the charging network develop in future?

Also, what do you consider are the main limitations or inconveniences with EV ownership and what needs to change to make ownership more appealing.

I appreciate any comments and thank you for your input.

Richard Gordon
Perhaps unsurprisingly you are likely to hear positive opinions about EV ownership from the members of this forum.

There are many, many threads, covering this topic so please read around.

My 2p:
  • In terms of pure electric vehicles the reality is that today there's a 2-tier hierarchy comprising a) Tesla and b) Everything Else
  • The only real downside with Tesla is that the cars are expensive. In every other respect I'd say my Model S is a more convenient, capable, better car, than the Audi it replaced. It does everything from the school run to 2000 mile European journeys, I've never had a problem charging, the superchargers are great, etc etc etc.
  • And the only real downside with Everything Else is that the range is too low to be used for long distance travel. Our second car is a Zoe and we never take it more than 25 miles from home. For this use case, it's pretty much the perfect car.
  • The only charging points I use are either a) at someone's house or b) superchargers. These are both wonderfully convenient, and highly reliable.
What needs to change in order to make ownership more appealing to the mass market is that batteries need to get cheaper, so that affordable BEVs can have larger ranges. It will, over time.
 

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RickG
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for the replies so far. It is all very useful information.

I am based in Cambridgeshire and I am doing some market research for a business that is planning to enter the EV market. I cannot give too many details as I am under a confidentiality agreement with them, not that it is anything particularly 'top secret' or anything, but I have to respect the agreement.

I am trying to get a feel for EV's owners experiences and how they would like to see the market develop. From my research so far, it would appear that charging is something of an issue at the moment, particularly for longer journeys, but I wanted to get the first hand experience and opinions of those that actually use the system and see how that compares with various press and EV manufacturers and suppliers reports.

Thanks again and keep the replies coming!!
 

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We have a 'short range' Leaf and a 'long range' Tesla coming soon.

We have had a great experience with the Leaf. It's used mostly for local commuting by my wife and is the *only* car we use for day trips, shopping, any kind of leisure trips out. We still have a diesel and a small petrol car which we are keeping until the Tesla arrives but these are never used for family trips, only by me for long distance work-related stuff. The Leaf is mostly charged at home, probably 75% of it's mileage.

We have no hesitation taking the Leaf out for long journeys (it is the car of choice as far as the family is concerned) but as said before it does require a bit of forethought and planning. In general our experience with the Ecotricity and CYC rapids has been very good, including 500mile+ round trips to north Wales (twice) and several 100-200 mile day trips to the south coast. We find the planning is all part of the fun.

Personal opinion on the charging infrastructure for this type of car:

1. Too many different, competing, incompatible charging network operators requiring a plethora of RFID cards, phone apps and subscriptions. Some are free (Ecotricity and some CYC) and some are charged (CYC, Poler etc). Ecotricity is an anomaly and we all expect them to charge eventually, but some networks are just ridiculously expensive - in energy terms several times the price of petrol and many times more expensive than the electricity from home. Such punitive charging is counter-productive. It's too reminiscent of bank cash machines when they started and the first mobile phone networks, which were all different - there needs to be interoperability between operators and for heaven's sake just accept debit/credit cards for PAYG, why is each one a private members club? We don't buy petrol like this, it's just not necessary.

2. The motorway rapid charging network is now very good (offline is now typically 5% which is much better than even a year ago) but again as has been said more chargers to provide additional capacity and more importantly redundancy are needed at many locations. This is happening and will no doubt improve in time.

3. Off motorway charging gets very patchy. Some local area initiatives just dumped a load of rapid chargers in town which is a bit of a nonsense, others thought a bit more about the problem and spread them along their trunk road network, which is the correct answer. Extending rapid charger coverage out along the A roads is urgent and critical as many of the areas poorly served with EV charging are in this position because there are not on the motorway network - East Anglia, Yorkshire, pretty much all of Wales which is shockingly under-served, Cornwall, Devon, most of Somerset off the M5 and Wessex. Scotland has improved a lot with the CYC operated rapid network and shows what could be done in the rest of the country. This should be the highest infrastructure investment in my opinion.

4. Many of the range restrictions of 'short range' EV's like the Leaf would be removed if there was a wholesale push on sensible destination charging provision, particularly at workplaces. This would effectively double the useable commute range of most EV's without having to clog up the rapid network with opportunistic charging. Supermarkets are not the place to do this, but cinemas, leisure centres, seaside destinations and most town and city centre car parks do fall into this category. Park and rides should have 7kW fast chargers, not rapids.

Tesla's are different issue, as they are 3-4x the range of most 'affordable' EV's and have a dedicated charging network, which is a bit thin in the UK but provides very fast charging and they're filling in the gaps. An adapter allows a Tesla to charge at any of the rapid chargers so improvements to the national charging infrastructure will benefit Tesla owners as well, since there are many areas of the UK which are off the Tesla supercharger network at this time.

Done.
 

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I am based in Cambridgeshire and I am doing some market research for a business that is planning to enter the EV market. I cannot give too many details as I am under a confidentiality agreement with them, not that it is anything particularly 'top secret' or anything, but I have to respect the agreement.
Ah, I was near you last night. In fact, yesterday is illustrative of the problems still faced when using short-range EVs. I went to a MeetUp in Cambridge last night at Redgate Software, due to start at 1900. In the petrol car it's about a 45 minute drive and I don't really have to think about the fuel used - maybe a gallon in a modern car. In the Leaf though:

  • I had done 25 miles earlier in the day so was down to 60% charge. No time to sip on the 16A chargepoint at home (would have needed at least three hours) so I left early at 1645 and drove to the Ecotricity Rapid in Peterborough which got me to 85% or so in half an hour - taper effects.
  • Drove to Cambridge Services to see if they really were down (marked as such on the map). One CHAdeMO handle smashed and the other unit reporting "Card In Error". Oh well, I only burned 1 mile of range on that diversion.
  • Took the wrong exit off the A14 so had to drive round the top of Cambridge - burned another mile or so of range
  • Looked all over for the Chargepoint in the Science Park - found it eventually (burned 3 miles range) but none of my RFID cards would work - and I have about £100 worth of RFIDs. The point was marked Source East but appears to have been handed over to ChargeMaster. Neither Source East nor ChargeMaster cards worked though! Nor did PiM and even my old faithful CYC failed me.
  • As a result I set off from Cambridge with just 51% - still enough to get home. But the good old Highways Agency had started roadworks and shut the A14 exit. A white knuckle trundle at 40mph along the A428 ensued. I had to draft a lorry on the A1 and rolled into Peterborough services with the range indicator flashing. Luckily those points worked.

Now, you may wonder why I didn't find another ChargePoint when leaving Cambridge. Well, all the non-motorway points are unreliable (which RFID? Broken? For example St Ives Cattlemarket has been down for Months; Bridge Place in Huntingdon is down more often than it is up). Diverting to a non-Ecotricity point would have guaranteed I could not make the Peterborough Services - it was only just possible as it was.

All in all, what should have been a nice evening taking 1h30 minutes travelling ended up using four hours and saw me get home at close to midnight.
 

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Zoe Devotee
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In short trips pretty much any Ev will suit you.

Long trips are much the same, bit dependent on the EV you choose you'll need to factor in charging stops.

I've got a Zoe so on a recent 500mile trip my aim was 60-70miles between stops, driven hard so the battery pack was hot meaning shorter recharge times. Never stopping with more than 20% remaining (often less) to give enough range to slowly get to another charger if my planned one was out of action but not sure h a high SOC that it would slow charging time.

Key is Plan B and C. Because if you hit 1 failed charger sods law will mean you hit more. I got 3 failed chargers on the trot, meaning a slower 22kw top up and slowing until I got to a working charger was the onoy way to go.
 
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