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Moving from a Prius Generation 2 to a Plugin due to be delivered in September.

I am joining a number of UK EV sites to 'keep my fingers on the pulse' of what is happening out there.

The whole EV field appears to be cooling off, public chargers appear to be expensive, few and far between and the dealers don't really want to talk about EV cars let alone sell them. There also seem to be a number of 'get rich quick' companies offering charging points and networks who, once the grant money is in, lose interest or go bust. This can't be good in the long term.
 

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Hi Ian and welcome,

To be honest I'm not sure its cooling off at all, public chargers have become a bit notorious for being expensive and in the wrong places but with non-EV owners in 'the driving seat' it was bound to go a little astray. However free residential chargers for all and more fast chargers in the right places are making a network that is only getting better. Companies like ZeroCarbonWorld and Ecotricity are achieving much better facilities than the official (and expensive) regional schemes were managing. Some of the poorly thought out schemes have already merged meaning less cards and memberships are required (Though I'll only be happy when they are all merged or all gone! 1 or NO scheme cards at all!)

But then does it really matter if the 'on street scheme' companies go bust? If I can charge at home, work, hotels, and all day venues (long stay car parks and attractions) then I'll be happy. In effect it's up to those hotels and venues to attract me with good charging facilities. And this is what we are seeing happening some independent and some via schemes. The short-stay on-street units have always been a poor offering for Pure EV's, though the PiP might be one of the few that can take a full charge from a chargemaster streetside unit (13Amp plug and 3hr limit!!!) so maybe you'll have a different experience to the rest of us.

As for dealers, I can't comment on the Toyota side, but we have heard of reluctance in general Vauxhall dealers who, it is thought, can only refer sales to the specialists EV dealers and as such won't earn full commission on a sale, and future services, so effectively an EV sale is a lost sale, so understandable reluctance.

Out of curiosity why did you opt for the PiP? Was it just brand loyalty, or did you not like the alternative Volt/Ampera, or waiting for the i3 Range Extender?


Mike.
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

Interesting that you say public charging is expensive. I have had a Nissan Leaf for 2 years and an Ampera for 1 year and I can't remember being charged anything for public charging yet!!! I have driven my Leaf all over the UK and the vast majority of public charging is, if not totally free, then almost free. The issue with public charging is currently not the price but availability and compatibility. It is still quite sparse except in a few government sponsored locations such as London, Milton Keynes, Newcastle and the NE etc.

I do not know of any "get rich quick" companies at all and as government grants are still available it is difficult to know what will happen. The problem has been that the government has offered grant incentives with little control on how it is spent or standardisation of what is installed and so it seems that the companies that have set up to take advantage of these grants have been pretty diverse in their operational parameters resulting in much of the grant money being spent rather unwisely. To suggest that these companies set up in business solely to take the grants I thin is rather far fetched. I believe that the majority set up hoping they would find a business model that would allow them to make money before the grants ran out. Some will, some won't. There will be some that get bought out by the bigger companies that seems certain.

Can't talk about the Toyota but certain dealers are very good and others not so. As for Nissan and Vauxhall noot all dealers are approved EV sales centres and so those dealers that aren't won't be interested anyway.

The Plug-in-Prius is a curious car because it has such a limited electric range. You would need to do almost no driving every day to make it a viable EV otherwise it is mainly a petrol car. I too am curious why you are interested in a PiP when there are now ER-EVs and PH-EV with the range of the Ampera or i3.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
OK
Get rich quick.
There appear to be a number of new companies who are installing charging points at inflated costs to claim the maximum OLEV grant to cover 75% of the cost but I suspect the real actual cost is much less. My unit took three men five hours for a simple garage install, does not work properly (It won't communicate but it charges OK) but the managing company say there is no money to cover after service, they have done their job, finished.

There is a fair amount of 'Greenwash' around. Today I have tried to find out if I will be able to charge at Little Chef. Their website does not address it. The company have not replied to telephone enquiries and the actual restaurants when I called them don't know how they work or what I need for access and don't know where to find out.

Many public charging points don't work, again lack of maintainance and management. Again when the money is there for the installation they are quick. After, minimal interest.

My council had just been given £127,500 by OLEV as 75% of the cost of five public charging points. I make that £34,000 per point. Where is the money going?

It is all reminiscent of the old double glazing business model, bull.... your way to an inflated sale with extream claims, get the order, get the money, get out fast.

Choosing a PiP.
Don't forget we have had a Prius for the last seven years and have been very pleased. I believe that 80% or so of my daily journeys are 10 miles or less now I am retired. Most of the rest are under 25 miles with a couple of much longer journeys a month and three 1,000 mile plus journeys to relatives in Scotland a year. It came down to a PiP or Ampera.

Here are my feelings on the Ampera trial, It was the distance to the nearest dealer which was the deal-breaker. Vauxhall never replied when I sent it to them.
---------------------------
Well the Ampera has arrived and just gone. An Electron, £33,995 after the government grant of £5,000 meaning a list price of £38,995. There are a few incentives totaling around £3,000ish in the form of free cables, servicing and a grant towards petrol. So a budget cost of £31,000 before haggling. Shortform impression ‘Competent town car but with niggles’.

Longer review. Over the weekend, we travelled just over a hundred miles, a few short jaunts of 5-10 miles, a longer shopping trip of 28 miles and a long trip of 58 miles. The short trips were all electric and the long was 38 electrical and 20 petrol which gave an indicated 111 mpg for the trip and 40 mpg just for the petrol part. The driver information center showed it had averaged 106mpg from new, over the 9,000 miles on the clock when I handed it back today. I estimate the car would save us around £1,500 a year in petrol but cost £360 in electricity so saving something in the order of 1,140ish a year.

The Ampera in itself was very quiet but a lot of tyre noise on the motorway. It had all the power, get up and go we needed, perhaps similar to a three litre V6 or V8. Charging is simple and straight forward, a non-event, just plug in and forget. A few gadgets, satnav, climate control, heated seats and mirrors, parking sensors, rearview camera and so forth. Comfortable for four, otherwise just another upmarket car.

Niggles.
However I adjusted the seat my hair touched the headrest, annoying. If I bought one I would have to bend the supports back a little. The rearview mirror is too small; I could not see the whole of the rear screen. I never got to grips with the keyless entry system; sometimes the door button needed one press, sometimes two, once three. I tried changing the settings but it did not make too much difference. Sometimes exiting the car needed one pull on the door handle to open, sometimes two. The boot lip is high and thick, I had difficulties loading a 25Kg bag of sand into the boot. A Velcroed bag in the boot was poorly made, so the hook Velcro would not match the loops and was tearing off the surface of the seat backs. The satnav was non-intuitive to use. Instructions for the ‘infotainment’ were spread over two manuals and contained instructions for non-existent menus (or I could not find them, most confusing menus). The front airdam scrapes on everything; it is very, very low to the ground. The aircon has an Eco setting but it was then not powerful enough to cope with the little bit of sunny weather last Sunday. The boot is too small to carry stuff for four people, boots, coats, picnic stuff, and so on. It would be impossible for holiday luggage. Longish items e.g. golf clubs, will not fit but have to go forward between the two back seats and between the passengers after removing the Velcroed bag mentioned earlier. The rear seats fold flat, but not with four people of course. There is a really naff bit of cloth on four elastics which clip over hooks to act as a cover for the boot contents. The whole build quality is not good. A front carpet was coming loose and all the plastic trims felt insubstantial. Using the dash controls left fingerprints everywhere as there are no actual buttons, just areas to touch.

Contact with Vauxhall lacked. From the salesman who told me that they don’t sell them, to the passing from one person to another around the country to get some information. I get the strong impression that the staff do not really want to waste time talking to people who probably will not buy anyway. The UK website shows three models, Earth, Positiv and Electron, but they only sell two of them (the Earth base model is marketed as the Chrysler Volt). The terrible English in customer service emails (six errors in 32 words). There is no attention to detail, it all comes over as too much trouble, but having said that the arrangements for the three day trial were easy and smooth. This were arranged by a separate service company though. Servicing and repair would have to be done in Exeter 160 miles away, which means that the most minor item would take one or two days minimum and another 320 miles on the car.

On a car of this price, I would expect for example, folding door mirrors, automatic dipping rearview mirror and headlamps and rain sensing wipers. None of which are supplied.

The biggest niggle is that it is impossible to turn the radio off. There is an off switch but as soon as you use the display, the radio comes on. Turn it off again, change the climate control and the radio comes on. Turn it off again, adjust the satnav and the radio comes on. I called the help line and was told that the only way to get silence was to turn the radio volume to zero. Daft.

We have a one-day trial of a Prius plugin next Friday so we are reserving purchasing decisions until then.
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Hi Ian. Good response - thanks.

Ian said:
OK
Get rich quick.
There appear to be a number of new companies who are installing charging points at inflated costs to claim the maximum OLEV grant to cover 75% of the cost but I suspect the real actual cost is much less. My unit took three men five hours for a simple garage install, does not work properly (It won't communicate but it charges OK) but the managing company say there is no money to cover after service, they have done their job, finished.
Have you any evidence of this, apart from guesses, circumstantial or word-of-mouth? If you have then please share it with us because I certainly haven't seen any anywhere online and I keep my nose pretty close to things EV and have done for a couple of years now. There are a number of opinions based on what people see companies doing or not doing but the fact of the matter is that no one knows what their real motives are... not you, me or anyone else. We see that charging stations are or aren't being installed or maintained. We see announcements. We see ridiculous prices for just a few stations. But in all of that we don't know the facts do we.

I do not think it helps EV drivers or anyone else to make the kinds of accusations you are making about the charging network companies. You might be right but you might be wrong and to talk that way does no one any good IMO especially as it lumps together the good and bad all up together and damns them all.

There is a fair amount of 'Greenwash' around. Today I have tried to find out if I will be able to charge at Little Chef. Their website does not address it. The company have not replied to telephone enquiries and the actual restaurants when I called them don't know how they work or what I need for access and don't know where to find out.
Little Chef do not run the network. They have nothing to do with EV charging except by allowing POLAR to install at some of their restaurants. You really cannot blame Little Chef. If you want info about charging at Little Chef then you must ask POLAR.

Little Chef has just been sold so it is all in limbo anyway. I think you are being way too critical of Little Chef and you cannot use Little Chef as an example of anything.

Many public charging points don't work, again lack of maintainance and management. Again when the money is there for the installation they are quick. After, minimal interest.
Certainly not my experience at all. Where are these charging stations that don't work and as you don't have an EV how do you know they are not working?

My council had just been given £127,500 by OLEV as 75% of the cost of five public charging points. I make that £34,000 per point. Where is the money going?
Do you know how much it costs to install a public charging station? Clearly not!

To give you an idea... Nissan has a network of charging stations. They are all on dealer sites and so you would imagine that it would be fairly easy and cheapish to install there. The groundworks necessary to get the power to the charging point is typically £20-30K and in one case over £100K!

People seem to think that providing public infrastructure, charging or anyting else, is cheap. It isn't. It costs over £7k to install a speed hump given the traffic control needed. It's not as cheap as everyone thinks.

It is all reminiscent of the old double glazing business model, bull.... your way to an inflated sale with extream claims, get the order, get the money, get out fast.
It doesn't feel at all like that to me. It feels like there are new companies with money to spend, encouraged by the government, that is doing what they think might work but they don't have any experience and don't understand the EV marketplace. I have seen no evidence of "get rich quick" companies as you suggest. What I have seen is people trying to get in to a new industry and to use government money to get going. I see a lot of incompetence. I see a lot of public announcements before there is any proof that they can actually deliver on the promises. All of which is bad enough but it doesn't necessary mean they set out to scam or to deceive.


Regarding the PiP...
Clearly you don't like the Ampera. That is fair enough. I am the first to say it has faults. Cars are very personal.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hmm.

Perhaps this site should be renamed Ampera Chat not EV Chat.

I think that was my last post.
 

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All water under the bridge as you've bought a PiP, but:

Ian said:
Contact with Vauxhall lacked. From the salesman who told me that they don’t sell them, to the passing from one person to another around the country to get some information. I get the strong impression that the staff do not really want to waste time talking to people who probably will not buy anyway. The UK website shows three models, Earth, Positiv and Electron, but they only sell two of them (the Earth base model is marketed as the Chrysler Volt). The terrible English in customer service emails (six errors in 32 words). There is no attention to detail, it all comes over as too much trouble, but having said that the arrangements for the three day trial were easy and smooth. This were arranged by a separate service company though. Servicing and repair would have to be done in Exeter 160 miles away, which means that the most minor item would take one or two days minimum and another 320 miles on the car.
I'm not going to comment in any way on the competence or otherwise of Vauxhall, but some of that is simply incorrect.

The Chevrolet (not Chrysler) Volt isn't an equivalent to the Ampera Earth model. The Volt is equivalent to the Positiv or Electron models but the non-satnav version is priced the same as the Ampera Earth (and the satnav is just an option not another model). If as your profile says you live in Reading your nearest dealer for servicing is in Wantage which isn't right round the corner from you but is a lot closer than Exeter.

The biggest niggle is that it is impossible to turn the radio off. There is an off switch but as soon as you use the display, the radio comes on. Turn it off again, change the climate control and the radio comes on. Turn it off again, adjust the satnav and the radio comes on. I called the help line and was told that the only way to get silence was to turn the radio volume to zero. Daft.
Alternatively you could buy a non-satnav version. It's only the satnav variant that won't et you turn off the radio, with the others you can turn it off and continue to use the other functions just fine.
 

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Ian said:
Hmm.

Perhaps this site should be renamed Ampera Chat not EV Chat.

I think that was my last post.
Well, that is a huge pity but if you didn't want to discuss it all then I have to ask myself why you joined in the first place. :)

It is a massive pity that we don't have more non-Ampera owners on the forum and it is people like yourself, people that don't want or even like the Ampera, that will bring a bit of balance.

However, I think that you might also consider this... there are people here with a lot of EV experience and so to come on here and make the kinds of damning statements about the charging infrastructure as you did, statements that you are not willing or able to back up with evidence, when you have little or no personal experience, is not a good way to introduce yourself.

Everyone is welcome here but please recognise that it is a discussion forum. The purpose of the forum is to discuss these issues and to air our views and opinions. We all have different opinions.
 

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The Eden Bournemouth delivery driver told me he took a demo car to Reading. The demoee bashed his head getting in and immediately rejected it!
 

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Hi Ian. It was interesting to read your comprehensive evaluation of the Ampera. I await to hear your appraisal of the PIP. When we were looking we were considering to buy a PIP or an Ampera.
What made us chose the Ampera was the distance that the battery will take it,the quietness, the sound system and the lifetime warranty. I understand your feelings about the name of this forum as I feel the same about the sport section of our newspaper which I say should be called Football and Cricket. However there is a difference with this forum though as no matter what make of car we own we all share the aim to promote the use of electricity to propel our cars.
One thing that is worth considering is that you are testing at the optimum time for ev's. you will not get the same range in the winter months. We bought ours in December and were impressed with the range which has got better now the warm weather is here.
We are pleased with the car and have no regrets although there is room for improvement but the good points far outweigh any bad points.
Geoff
 

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Moving from a Prius Generation 2 to a Plugin due to be delivered in September.

I am joining a number of UK EV sites to 'keep my fingers on the pulse' of what is happening out there.

The whole EV field appears to be cooling off, public chargers appear to be expensive, few and far between and the dealers don't really want to talk about EV cars let alone sell them. There also seem to be a number of 'get rich quick' companies offering charging points and networks who, once the grant money is in, lose interest or go bust. This can't be good in the long term.
Hi Ian welcome, I too am a Toyota fan and have a gen 3 Prius, it makes a good case for itself, zero road tax probably for life as you cant put a percentage increase on 0, or does 70+ mpg on the motorway and is so well built, reliable comfortable and relaxing to drive with 450 miles petrol range. I did look at plug in Prius but the range was limited on the MK3 at about 12 miles and the MK4 is only a 4 seater due to batteries taking up more space I think this does about 22 miles on battery power? The Kia Optima Estate/5door and the Niro PHEV seemed to make a better case with 30+ something miles battery range BUT they need the engine to run to heat the interior. (from 2017 road tax of £135 is payable) but I concluded PHEV was only a half way house and I may as well go fully electric.
 
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