Is an EV practical for trips to the UK?
It’s one of the main questions we get asked when people are considering switching to electric. The facts all point to there being no problem – there are more than twice as many charging stations in the UK than petrol stations, and the biggest increase in the last 12 months have been in ultra-fast chargers of 100kWh to 350kWh, which can charge most modern EVs from 10% to 80% in 15-25 minutes. In a modern EV you can drive from the IOM to Cornwall with one 30 minute stop!
But facts are all well and good – what is it actually like in reality? Here’s how one person experienced it. Our thanks to Jon for doing this day-by-day detailed account which is really informative.
Jon’s EV Experience in the UK
So, I bet you’ve thought about changing to an electric car, on our island they make perfect sense. But what about when you have to go across how, well do they work then? Will I be stranded? Will it take me ages to find a charge when I need one?
All those questions could easily put you off but should it? With a great deal of trepidation, I took the plunge and decided to go across in an electric car for the first time and give it a go.
I arrive at the ferry port with 96% battery thanks to a full charge before I left. The auto gear box and massive torque you get with an electric car makes driving onto the boat a doddle, no worrying about hill starts on the ramps or crawling slowly up the slopes to get parked. The normal ferry crossing (smooth thankfully!) we are all used to and then the drive out of the Steam Packet dock into Liverpool - again a very steep ramp off the dock which the poor chap in front of me struggled with having stopped then having to rev his car very hard to avoid rolling back into me.
Out through the heavy traffic in Liverpool that hardly used any battery at all and onto the motorway heading south. Electric cars are great on the motorway the torque means they are nippy well past the legal limit and they are a far more relaxed drive at motorway speeds as they are so quiet compared to a roaring petrol or diesel car.
I arrive at my Hotel in Solihull south of Birmingham with over 50% battery, a quick look at Zap Map on my phone showed me there were over 15 chargers within a few miles including DC chargers that would get me back to 80% in mere minutes.
One thing you need to learn is to be confident in the range your car says it has left, I was a bit nervous but I had over 100 miles left in the battery and a 75 mile journey to do next morning. I had planned to give it a top up but it was already getting late in the evening and I decided I would leave it for now.
Next day I’m off to Bicester Shopping village and another 75 miles to drive after picking up my student son to take him shopping. I arrive at the shopping centre midday on Saturday the car park was really busy but I was pleasantly surprised to be directed to one of the free to use charging points. A chap was on duty making sure the spaces were kept for electric cars and he helped me connect up and off we wandered round the shops. The FOC 22kw chargers meant my 25 mile of battery life was back to 150 miles by the time my son had emptied my wallet!
So, heading back to Solihull with a car full of shopping bags we decided to make an evening of it and go to the cinema before going for some food. Luck would have it that right next door to the cinema was a Tesco store and more free charging points, a quick nip in store to buy some bottled water and confirm there were no time restrictions on using the chargers and I connected up. By the time we left the cinema I was back up to 95% battery – which so far had cost me nothing!
I was then off to see my youngest in Shropshire around a 90 mile trip that on top of my return to the hotel the night before meant I was going to need another big charge before heading back to Liverpool on Monday so I stopped at a service station with a DC rapid charge. They are easy to use and most now have contactless payment so you don’t even need an app. In 40 mins I was back to 80% battery giving me 170 plus miles for my return journey. A bit of driving around and one final trip to a retail park with another Tesco and another free 22kw charger so by the time I was ready to head back to Liverpool I was at 95% battery again.
A nice day visiting relatives and spending some quality time never giving the battery a thought. An uneventful trip back to the Ferry and a smooth crossing, as I pulled back onto the island I had over 50% battery and really hadn’t struggled at all.
Trip summary and my thoughts
So what did I learn….
A couple of apps on your phone, Pod Point and Zap Map do help plan your journey and a little effort to do so does give you peace of mind.
It’s worth looking for the free charging points there are loads of them, it’s also good to know how fast your car will charge on which types of charger so you can pick the best one for you. There are enough chargers around for you to be confident that if you are down to the last 20 miles you will find somewhere for a top up.
DC charging is quick and not really expensive. 22kw AC charging is quick if you have a car that can take advantage and in lots of places is free in the UK (Thanks Tesco!).
Electric cars are probably better on the motorways than the ICE equivalents and are certainly cheaper. My 450 mile round trip cost one charge on island of about £6 and just one paid for DC charge £9, so a total of £15 which a petrol equivalent would have cost at least £80. It certainly opened my eyes.
I was at the services for 40 mins while my car charged, but a coffee in Costa and a wander round the shops passed the time although why I bought the combined wind-up torch, multitool and air pump I will never know!
You will obsess about where the next charge is coming from until you get your confidence up.
You will find it hard not to snigger when you see people at the petrol pumps forking out £1.30 a litre or even £1.59 a litre on the motorway services.
All in all, it has totally changed my mind. I’ve always thought having an EV on the IOM was an easy choice and made perfect sense with the short journey times, but driving to, and in the UK was something I was always worried about. Chargers are everywhere in the UK, and loads of them are free which is perfect to keep topping up when you do shopping etc. Once you get over that initial range anxiety, and try the fast chargers for the first time, it really couldn’t be easier! And £15 for 400 miles is a major bonus, especially after my son emptied my wallet!
Motor Mall Comment: Thanks again to Jon for taking the time to detail this trip. If you would like to discuss anything about EVs, or arrange to test drive one with absolutely no obligation to buy, use the test drive button below. As the Island’s largest supplier of EVs, from 24 manufacturers, we have EVs that are not for sale but are only for people to try and experience.