It has been a very quiet time over the past couple of week s int he run up to Christmas as far as the electric cars are concerned and so I have had little to report. I did visit the BMWi showroom in Park Lane, London for a test drive of the BMW i3 and I will be doing a blog post on that in due course.
Next week, Sally and I are visiting her sister in Keston, near Bromley, Kent. We have done this trip a couple of times in the Leaf but those times we had time to spare should a charger fail on us. This time though we are visiting them for a specific event and we cannot afford to be late… or not to arrive at all! This places a very different light on whether we can go in the Leaf or not.
Before, the only rapid chargers available for us to use were in Nissan dealers and although they made the trip possible it also meant that we were very restricted on our travel times as chargers in Nissan dealers are generally only available during the dealer’s opening hours. The Ecotricity Electric Highway has now made travel outside dealer opening hours and given us many more options as to where to charge.
So, looking at the Ecotricity Electric Highway map, the best route from Saltash, Cornwall to Keston, Kent is:
Exeter M5 J30 – Highway
Wincanton – Nissan
Winchester – Highway
Fleet – Highway
This is not a bad route at all but looking at the Ecotricity map I see that the northbound charger at Winchester and the southbound charger at Fleet are both out of action due to charger failure. Given that I cannot afford for the delay that would result from a charger failure on route this time and as there are no alternatives available we shall have to abandon our plans to go in the Nissan Leaf.
This is a huge pity as it will mean that we will use about 50 litres of petrol going in the Ampera.
Whilst the public rapid charging situation is clearly better that it was, and is improving all the time, it is clear that reliability and a lack of redundancy is still making travel a risk, especially if the inevitable delays due to charger failure are not acceptable.
So it will be a more relaxed trip next week in the Vauxhall Ampera and one that will be about 4 hours quicker as a result of no on route charging but at the cost of using 50 litres of petrol and an additional cost of about £60.
I am so looking forward to having public charging we can rely upon but I feel this is still quite a way off. One the other hand, a electric car with a 250+ mile range would mean less need to rely on public charging and the reliability issue would then be less of an issue.
I suppose what we need is both for it to work: reliable public charging and cars with a longer range.