EVs at public charging points - do you use them?


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A question for EV drivers - whether you're in our pilot or not. 😀

How do you charge when you're out and about? Is anyone a member of a subscription like the Polar network, or do you prefer to pay as you go?

Another thing which would be interesting for us to know, is when you think about charging your EV, do you think in terms of kWh, or of £, or of hours/minutes it takes to charge?

 


18 replies

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Hi Marc,
generally I charge at home, I guess we don't do that many long journeys.
Since we've had the Leaf I have done less than a 20 long journeys that require charging on the public network.
As a result I haven't gone for a subscription payment model as it wouldn't work out cheaper and have just charged when I've needed to.
Longest journey was Bath to Newcastle on Tyne to pick up daughters stuff after graduation.
It's a long journey by any uk standard, at about 310miles door to door and can be be pretty grotty traffic wise.
In an IC car I think I've done it in 7hrs including 2ish stops for food and leg stretching.
I was determined to do it in the Leaf just to see what it was like.
With 3 in the car there and plus lots of clobber on the back we took 10 hrs there and 9.30 on the way back.
Incidentally I drove at 60 and drafted along behind trucks when possible (not getting too close) so I was really trying to be economical to minimise changing stops.
Considering we had to charge 3 times each way it wasn't too bad.
Whilst charging you can eat or have a long coffee break as it takes 45 mins.
The chargers all worked though I did have to wait for 35 mins at one on the way up (it was a freebie at Lidl) and 15 mins at a Mway Ecotricity charger but not too bad.
There are only one or two Ecotricity chargers at each Motorway service station that can each charge 2 vehicles which seemed a very small number. At some service stations there were over 20 Tesla chargers doing nothing! Its a pretty impressive network but then they have borrowed a fortune to do it.
Charging on the go is generally not cheap.
Ecotricity appear to have the exclusive right to place non Tesla chargers at motorway stations. It was 30p/kWh but if you have Ecotricity as your domestic supplier its only 15p/kWh. So I guess for folk who regularly use Mway chargers that might be cool.
Other trips I have used the polar instant network and just paid as I've gone along. Its now at 25p/kWh. You can pay a monthly subscription and the rate comes down but again that wouldn't work for me.
Having done that Newcastle trip I probably would not rush to do a similar journey in the Leaf and just use my wife's battered diesel golf.
We went up to my sister in laws in Ealing just for the day on Boxing Day and nobody was keen on us taking the Leaf as we would have had to have at least 2 stops to charge. Not practical on such a short turnaround trip.
Of course if I had a 64kWh leaf which must be a able to do 200miles? at fast speeds I would consider any length of journey possible.
Hope thats of interest
Cheers
​​​​​​​Tim
Eastbath;52172:

generally I charge at home, I guess we don't do that many long journeys.
Since we've had the Leaf I have done less than a 20 long journeys that require charging on the public network.

Ecotricity appear to have the exclusive right to place non Tesla chargers at motorway stations. It was 30p/kWh but if you have Ecotricity as your domestic supplier its only 15p/kWh. So I guess for folk who regularly use Mway chargers that might be cool.
Other trips I have used the polar instant network and just paid as I've gone along. Its now at 25p/kWh. You can pay a monthly subscription and the rate comes down but again that wouldn't work for me.


Hi @Eastbath
Thanks for this. It's v useful.
I've not charged much on the road, either.
So you're a pay-as-you-go guy then. That seems sensible if you're not going to be using a public charging point regularly.
Do you think the Ecotricity offer of 15p per kWh is an attractive option for their domestic customers? If there was a Pure Planet charging point, would you expect the same rate? Or less? Or more?!
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Hi Marc
If there was a Pure Planet charging network or maybe PP do a deal with one of the others I would certainly use it and 15p sounds great when out and about. Guess you want a range of acceptable prices, well if you need to charge, you really need to charge. Its pretty stressful if you go low and have to start finding rapid chargers at short notice. (of course this shouldn't happen as you've planned your trip haven't you?) So frankly if you need to charge you will be happy to pay a premium and as an example Polar Instant is 25p/kWh on their 50kW capable rapids but goes up to 35pkW on their faster rapids.

Having said that we found a very nice hotel in the New Forest that we wouldn't have found if we hadn't needed to charge! Cream tea whilst yer waiting ain't all bad but much more expensive than the power! (This is a good selling point for businesses who have car parking space to install rapid chargers as if they are food/drink/some sort of sales outlet they have a captive audience for 30-60mins)
well if you need to charge, you really need to charge. Its pretty stressful if you go low and have to start finding rapid chargers at short notice. (of course this shouldn't happen as you've planned your trip haven't you?) So frankly if you need to charge you will be happy to pay a premium and as an example Polar Instant is 25p/kWh on their 50kW capable rapids but goes up to 35pkW on their faster rapids.

V true! It's not like there's much choice (yet). If you have to top up, you'll pay whatever it costs.


Having said that we found a very nice hotel in the New Forest that we wouldn't have found if we hadn't needed to charge! Cream tea whilst yer waiting ain't all bad but much more expensive than the power!

Not sure cream tea could be made available at every public charging point @Eastbath 😂
But it would be great if the experience could at least be positive.
I collected my Tesla M3 just over a month ago now. Unfortunately given the current climate it's not had as much use as I originally anticipated so still playing around with charging options.

I charged it once at home during the first week (just on 13A outdoor socket, not decided whether to go ahead with a more powerful charge point yet).

Last week I discovered I can charge for free at a retail park down the road (Pod Point chargers), so took advantage of that for a few hours. The retail park next door has Polar Network, so tempted to join for at least the 3 month free membership - currently waiting until car gets more use though. They are free chargers but after 3 months you have the pay a monthly membership... not sure if I can justify when there's a free option across the road from it, guess I need to figure out if they have chargers any other locations that could be useful to me.

I also discovered last weekend that I can charge for free at one of the places I work, so took advantage of that & got a full battery by the end of my shift.

I also found out Tesla have recently installed Superchargers 10 mins away from me, but saving my 1000 free miles for a long motorway trip once travel restrictions lift.

At the moment it's hard to justify paying to charge car when there seems to be so many free options! Also read a lot about Octopus Agile tariff, where you can sometimes be paid to charge, just to take excess power supplies away from the grid!
djbwilliams;52484:


At the moment it's hard to justify paying to charge car when there seems to be so many free options!



Thanks for getting involved @djbwilliams 👍
That's a very interesting point you make. I suppose only EV drivers who are reliant on frequent on-the-road charging would be up for paying.
How's the Tesla going for you? A nice drive?
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Hi Marc
I have projects in Wolverhampton and Nottingham ( 20 miles and 60 miles one way, respectively ) . I go to London and Chelmsford about 4 times a year.
So I charge at home most the time, use Polar Plus ( I have a subscription ) for Chargemaster at Nottingham, occasionally in Wolverhampton and at the Milton Keynes Superhub by the coach station when I go to London. While there I use Zapmap to find Chargemaster compliant charging posts, nearby, which has led to some great discoveries!
Before Covid, I use to be in Birmingham every Friday and would park on the council owned street charge posts in Margaret Street or Temple row. They were very variable in reliability's but offered free parking for 3 hours.
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Don't have a subscription to any of the networks, prefer payg since there are so many different providers I'd rather not be paying for something I may not use for several months at a time, even if that does mean a higher cost for the occasional charge, contactless payment like on the InstaVolt chargers is always a bonus.

I've got a New Motion Account (with RFID card) which is Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Councils provider for all their charge points, which was handy up to 31st March this year as they were on free vend 😉. Now they're charging 27p/kWh +VAT for their destination chargers, which is over double what it costs to charge at home.

I've also used the Pod Point app to activate the free charging at the local Tesco store, and I've used the VedElectric charge points in the Meadowhall Green Car Park.

Personally I tend to think of kWh (multiply that by 4 to get approximate range in my i3) but suspect I'm in the minority, most people will look at time to charge.

That's my usual pattern, although the current situation means home charging is the norm.
andyseal;52934:
Hi Marc
I have projects in Wolverhampton and Nottingham ( 20 miles and 60 miles one way, respectively ) . I go to London and Chelmsford about 4 times a year.
So I charge at home most the time, use Polar Plus ( I have a subscription ) for Chargemaster at Nottingham, occasionally in Wolverhampton and at the Milton Keynes Superhub by the coach station when I go to London. While there I use Zapmap to find Chargemaster compliant charging posts, nearby, which has led to some great discoveries!
Before Covid, I use to be in Birmingham every Friday and would park on the council owned street charge posts in Margaret Street or Temple row. They were very variable in reliability's but offered free parking for 3 hours.


Thanks @andyseal
Would you say you're getting your money's worth with Polar? Sounds like you did most using free charging points for the regular journeys?
GarethHorne;53089:
Don't have a subscription to any of the networks, prefer payg since there are so many different providers I'd rather not be paying for something I may not use for several months at a time, even if that does mean a higher cost for the occasional charge, contactless payment like on the InstaVolt chargers is always a bonus.

I've got a New Motion Account (with RFID card) which is Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Councils provider for all their charge points, which was handy up to 31st March this year as they were on free vend 😉. Now they're charging 27p/kWh +VAT for their destination chargers, which is over double what it costs to charge at home.

I've also used the Pod Point app to activate the free charging at the local Tesco store, and I've used the VedElectric charge points in the Meadowhall Green Car Park.

Personally I tend to think of kWh (multiply that by 4 to get approximate range in my i3) but suspect I'm in the minority, most people will look at time to charge.

That's my usual pattern, although the current situation means home charging is the norm.



Hi @GarethHorne
Thanks for getting involved! Really interesting stuff. In terms of how people 'think of' public charging, I guess you're right - they think of time to charge - as they'll want to get it done ASAP. Unless it's in a car park and they've got something else to do, such as work, or shop, or seeing a film or whatever.
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Hi Marc

yes, I do feel its good value. I look at the yearly cost and compare it to our fuel savings.

Regards, Andy
Marc;52596:
Thanks for getting involved @djbwilliams 👍
That's a very interesting point you make. I suppose only EV drivers who are reliant on frequent on-the-road charging would be up for paying.
How's the Tesla going for you? A nice drive?


Yes a very nice drive thanks Marc, it's so different & futuristic compared to any other cars I've driven. Only had it a couple of months & already installed a fair few software updates so it's really interesting to see the features they add and the technology improve as they target full self driving! Still waiting to do some longer journeys in it when lockdown eases though!
djbwilliams;55601:
Yes a very nice drive thanks Marc, it's so different & futuristic compared to any other cars I've driven. Only had it a couple of months & already installed a fair few software updates so it's really interesting to see the features they add and the technology improve as they target full self driving! Still waiting to do some longer journeys in it when lockdown eases though!


Nice! Are you able to do any autonomous driving @djbwilliams ?
Yes, so far love cruise control (goes at the speed limit of the road but smoothly reduces speed if you have a slower vehicle in front).

Have tried auto-steer too, works really nicely on motorways & other roads with clear markings but can tell it struggles with the complex London roads at present. Auto overtake also seems to work really nicely on motorways - always cautious to only give it a go with good distancing all around though as you get the feeling it's not quite refined enough for all scenarios just yet.

My only real disappointment is auto park, as it only seems to occasionally present you with the option, & when you use it to parallel park it leaves you about 1ft away from the kerb & sticking out of the bay (although it does part nice & straight!) so then have to manoeuvre it closer to kerb / within bay... I get the feeling US on-street parking bays are probably more spacious!

The real cool thing is the screen graphics showing you traffic lights (including if red/amber/green) & detecting pedestrians / bikes / motorbikes / cars / vans / lorries / cones / bins around you... gives you a real sense that with a bit more software development & laws catching up with technology that it could be a real game changer in the not too distant future!
Sounds amazing @djbwilliams And I guess what you're describing will become the 'norm' for us gradually, and then there'll be a generation of new drivers who never knew any different. Or maybe they won't even need to learn to drive (one day, far off). Just learn to sit, and how to 'press' the 'brakes' with a wave of the hand, or nod of the head. Wonderful stuff.

Always charge when out. All NHS facilities and most government carparks across Greater Manchester hace charging facilities  to staff members (like me!) So charge every day. However had a lot of issues around them being ICE’d especially in visitor areas, but we’re having that clamped down. 
 

the GMEV system is £20 a year and unlimited charging so a really good deal!

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I’ve had my electric car for a couple of months now - here’s my take on my (limited) experiences so far:

If on a long journey and wanting a stop to charge the car to a reasonable amount to complete said journey -it is absolutely not worth bothering with anything less than a 50KW CCS charger. 45 mins to an hour is a good time to have a sandwich and a coffee etc.

Up to 50Kw Type 2 connectors don’t seem to go anywhere near - I’ve had between 6Kw and 43Kw - and found very dependant on if the other connectors on the charger are being used simultaneously -if that is the case they tend to drop drastically.

The only problem is that using a Rapid charger is very expensive typically £0.35 per Kwh plus connection fee and most of the apps try to con you into adding a ‘reserve’ of £20 or so ‘just in case you run out of credit’ - ahem you have my card details already and will charge me for what I use!

I’ve found that Ecotricity chargers -who seem to have a monopoly on motorway services can be very difficult to initiate a charge - 1 stop was a complete fail and another took multiple attempts and 15 minutes or so to get charging.

Free chargers at Tesco etc - great I use them and they charge me enough to make the return trip for free.

If on a long journey and wanting a stop to charge the car to a reasonable amount to complete said journey -it is absolutely not worth bothering with anything less than a 50KW CCS charger. 45 mins to an hour is a good time to have a sandwich and a coffee etc.

Have to agree @greenstripe In fact if it’s a decent place to stop, 30-45 mins is a good amount of time to relax, grab a bite to eat, recharge.

 

I’ve found that Ecotricity chargers -who seem to have a monopoly on motorway services can be very difficult to initiate a charge - 1 stop was a complete fail and another took multiple attempts and 15 minutes or so to get charging.

Yeah I’ve tried charging at a couple of Ecotricity points and they’re not great. I’ve nothing against Ecotricity. I’m sure they’ll be looking to upgrade theirs over time. 

For me the Polar pay as you go option works best. Not the monthly membership fee as I don’t need it that often. Like Ecotricity though I have tried a couple of Polar points where I had to call them to ask them to reboot it! 

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