By "range", I do of course mean "distance", not "shooting range" or "frying range" – although to be fair, I have experienced frying range anxiety from my first job working at a local chippie. That was more to do with the owner though, a large, hairy Greek man called Tony who insisted on calling me Gary no matter how many times I told him I was at best "Gaz" and at the very worst, "Gareth."
Distance anxiety, then
Oh yes, sorry – got a bit sidetracked. Which is sort of apt for the topic of this post.
A lot is said about electric vehicles and "range anxiety" – i.e. being worried that you will not have enough battery power left to reach your destination.
Because EVs are (currently, at least) far more limited in terms of their potential range, there’s no denying that not being sure about your state of charge can be something of a concern.
However, the number of public charging points dotted around the place should make this more or less a thing of the past, and I had my first real taste of this today.
The day started with me doing the school run, with Jem. I’ve never done the school run before, so it was nice to get out and do so. However, it did mean using up about 10 miles of precious range before I’d even started my journey to work (18 miles.)
I then had an appointment after work in Newport to see an osteomyologist about my back problem (which is still giving me a ton of pain, annoyingly) so that took off another 16 miles.
Now, ordinarily at this point, I would have just gone home (about 13-15 miles from Newport I think) and all would have been fine, but on this occasion I had to pop back to Shrewsbury to do some shopping for my Mum, so that knocked another 16 miles off (for a total of approx. 60 miles) and still left me 18 miles from home.
In theory, it would have been fine – the range meter was showing 24 miles left, but I’m not that used to the car yet so I didn’t want to risk running out of electrons on the way up Harley Bank near Much Wenlock (steep hills will kill the range of an EV, and Harley Bank has a 12% incline)
I therefore hatched a plan – I would do my Mum’s shopping at ASDA instead of Morrisons, and take advantage of the fast charger they have on their car park to top up while I was shopping (and, to maximise charging time, Jem and I decided to nip further up the road to Nando’s for a bite to eat)
I am the Chargemaster!
The public charger at ASDA Shrewsbury is operated by Chargemaster, and users can either register to receive an RFID card used to open the sockets, or they can pop in to the store and ask to borrow one of their cards for a Â£10 refundable deposit.
Unfortunately for me, this took a bit longer than planned as the woman behind the counter at ASDA had no idea what I was talking about and had to call a colleague to come and get the card for me, but all was well in the end and they even waived the Â£10 deposit as I only had a card on me rather than cash.
There are two charging posts, each with a 3kW and 7kW charger on board – fortunately I specified the 6.6kW charging option for the LEAF when I bought it, so could take advantage of the faster charge. I’d remembered to leave my Type 2 charging cable in the boot so I was able to hook it all up for an hour and a bit while we did the shopping and had our quickie-chickie.
Upon returning to the car (and having returned the RFID card back to the customer services desk in store) I switched the car on and found it had gone from 21% charged to 55% and that I now had an effective range of 52 miles – more than enough to get home!
I can understand why people get anxious about range with their EVs, although I didn’t worry too much – even if the charger at ASDA had been out of service I would have risked it and probably just ended up getting a taxi back the rest of the way if I’d run out of juice.
I had to rearrange my plans for the evening slightly to fit in around using the charger, but it actually all worked out quite well in the end and very probably saved time – had I had the range to spare in the first place, I may have ended up spending ages driving around deciding on a place to eat!
Next time, I think I’ll push the car a bit more and see if I can find out just how far I can push it before it stops.