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Ok, so I haven't driven from New York to San Fran, but I did do Bolton to Derry, Ireland via the ferry in Scotland. This was a round trip of 572 miles so a real test of my 2 year old leaf 40 kWh. Plan was to drive to Scotland, do my first rapid and then quick charge in Cairnryan waiting for the ferry (and some lunch). Once in Belfast, it was only a short leg to Derry (there are a couple of rapids en-route). The journey back would involve the same stops.

Saturday 5th September
So with a fully charged car (98%) aim was to leave at 930am and drive 109 miles to Todhills Services just past Carlisle. There was another rapid at Gretna a few miles away as a back up. Ended up taking it a bit too easy and got to Todhills about noon (after leaving late about 945am). There was also a little congestion at the M6/M61 junction. Think I got there with 25 miles showing on the GOM. EV charger was Ecotricity which worked fine. Don’t have figures as it was on free vend (the first time I’ve ever had free vend).

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The next step was to drive to Stranraer to charge and eat before the ferry at 330pm. There is a rapid in the Brestworks car park where I could use with my CYC card. Google was showing 101 miles and 2hr 12min. Pretty sure I topped up to 125 miles on the thinking that I would get better economy on the mostly A-road journey. The first hour journey was pretty uneventful, but then had a massive rain storm resulting in me having to drive between 30-40mph for a dozen miles or so. Didn’t see this coming and the end of the journey was a bit hairy with the GOM was showing less than googlemaps (think it was about 10 miles out from Stranraer). Hope was that the EV point was working ok as it was another 7 miles to the ferry at Cairnryan.

Arrived at the EV charger at 2.36pm with 2% (rain had stopped just outside town and a few miles of 30mph driving had brought GOM up. First time using a ChargePlace Scotland and whilst the charger looked old it was working fine. Think it was kicking out 30kw, and only really had 15 minutes to charge. Ferry was at 330pm, so didn’t have time to eat and would now have to charge coming off the ferry in Belfast. From memory, think I topped up 5.5kW at 25p/kWh (min spend £1.50).

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The ferry was on time and was a pretty comfortable sailing getting us in at 6pm. Think I was one of the first off the ship and it was only 1.6 miles to a rapid. I was expecting a service station just off the motorway, but it was a regular petrol station with a rapid. Alas, as I was pulling in someone had just beaten me to the rapid, but there was another rapid 7 miles away en-route so this back up option was now on. There is a massive hill up the M2 out of Belfast and this plays havoc with the GOM which didn’t help.

So I arrive at the Applegreen Services off the M2. There is already a leaf there and the lady is telling me chademo does not work. She is local and can make it onwards, but I’m driving on fumes and now don’t have enough to get me back to Belfast. I try chademo a few times but its not working. Fortunately AC is working on 6kW and this is drip feeding me. I phone the helpline and they confirm there are a couple of rapids in disrepair (there is a rapid on my way at Antrim but this is also broken and reported on zapmap). I charge to 10-or-so miles knowing that I will be driving down the hill back the way I came, but I still have to drive to the next junction, so my journey back is 12 miles.

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I get back to the Emo Oil station opposite the harbour and the guy who pipped me to the charger now has his 80% in his Kia 64kWh. I’m relieved the charger is working ok for me. I get to use my ESB card. All Northern Ireland chargers are free (Republic has just recently introduced a fee). The journey to Derry is 71 miles so I think I charged to 90 or so. I just need to make it to my parent’s house. Googlemaps is saying 1 ½ hours back. They are half-way through upgrading the route and the first half of the journey is great. Then there is major construction after the Sperrin (Mountains). You are taken off-piste and it’s not a great drive in the night and rain.

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Sunday
Derry’s only rapid at an unmanned petrol station in the Waterside. I used it twice whilst I was there. It was empty when I was there. Both times it stopped charging but then worked ok after you connected again! There are 6 fast chargers on zapmap and I would have used these as back up (I did check the one out on the Strand road, it’s actually in a carpark and both spaces were taken up).

Wednesday
So time to drive back to Bolton and feeling a little more confident about the route back. If I can get charge before the ferry gives me more options back on the mainland. Set off with 95% at 1230pm. The weather is good and arrive at the Emo Oil station opposite the harbour at 2.15pm. I was getting 4.4 miles/kWh. Arrive as a Jag is just finishing and get a charge over 90%. The ferry is a mile away. It is scheduled to leave at 330pm, but leaves more like 350pm.

We arrive in Cairnryan and it is 105 miles to Todhills Services. Google is showing 2 hours 15 mins. My Ecotricity bill shows I started charging at 8.29pm so it took about 2 1/4 hours from the ferry. I pulled 25.7kWh in 46 minutes. Rate is 30p. Googlemaps is showing 109 miles home in 1 hr 42 mins. I think I charge to about 130 miles knowing I can arrive home empty

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I set off at 9.15pm and I’m struggling to get 3.5 miles/kWh for ages. I didn’t quite understand it at the time (and it was dark), but it must be all climb into the Lake District and it takes ages to get over 4 miles/kWh. When I’m 20 miles from home I up the speed as I know I can make it. We get home about 11.15pm.
 

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Nice write up :)
 

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Interesting experience. I’ve had EVs for over 7 years. Back then it was kind of forgivable that you had to rely a lot on luck and prayers to find rapids working but now it’s just rubbish.

It’s as if charger operators and manufacturers have never heard of the IoT. Surely it can’t be that difficult to fit monitoring to a charger, even if it was only capable of sending a “help, something‘s wrong” message back to base. If manufacturers designed stuff not to fail instead of just to work and operators understood how critical reliability is to the user and built their businesses to deliver it, then rapid charging would be a wholly different experience.
 
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