My 600 mile road trip in an electric vehicle | Guest Blog - Rob Cooling
Posted September 12, 2018 by Roseanne
Rob Cooling is back again with another guest blog. He recently did a 600 mile road trip in the UK and shares his top-tips of long-distance driving in an EV. Here's what he has to say...
Despite having owned 4 wonderful electric cars I still find the novelty of charging my car hasn’t worn off. 95% of our charging is done using our Pod Point home chargers so it’s slightly ridiculous how excited I get when I have the opportunity to rapid charge - I definitely never used to get excited about visits to the petrol station. Given that my daily mileage is about 90 miles and my wife does about 30 miles, our 30kWh and 40kWh Nissan Leafs exceed our daily requirements with the exception of holidays. So our recent week-long holiday to Exmouth gave us a rare opportunity to make decent use of the public charging infrastructure which is constantly improving.
I always plan my journeys well and it’s easy and convenient checking the location of rapid chargers we could use, including backup options just in case. I’ve never really had much problem with recharging, to date the only hiccup I’ve ever experienced was during a 100-mile multi-motorway driving lesson where we arrived at rapid chargers which weren't working. I and two other stranded EV drivers ironically talked about how brilliant our cars were while being unable to actually use them! Happy ending though as the chargers came back online and everything turned out ok.
During our recent Exmouth holiday, we did about 600 miles in total. About 250 miles to Exmouth, 100 miles pottering around the area and then 250 miles back home. The journey there was simple as we took the 40kWh Leaf, normally it’s range averages 175 miles but on the motorway, at a sustained 70mph, we were getting about 140 miles. After nearly 2 hours travelling and 100 miles into the journey, we took a break, plugged the car in, stretched our legs and ate our packed lunch. As per professional advice, I’m a big supporter of the idea that no one should be driving for 2 hours without a break regardless of what car they have, for health reasons it’s important to walk around a bit and vary your activity.
The current mileage range of electric cars just forces us to take a break that we should all be taking anyway. Plus I get to eagerly find another EV driver at the charger that I can talk to, although unfortunately this time I think my fellow EV driver was hiding from me in his car to avoid a chat he’s probably had multiple times before.
We deliberately booked a holiday cottage with a driveway so we could use the 3 pin charger, not vital but it’s a nice luxury. We’ve done this before as we really enjoy quaint cottages in the countryside and being able to charge the car up at the destination is a real bonus. That’s a massive advantage EV’s have over traditional cars, a petrol/diesel car simply can’t refuel overnight while you sleep. Strangely my only true experience with range anxiety was with a petrol car which I was loaned for a week after my Leaf was involved in a rear end shunt. The noisy, smelly petrol car was delivered to me with a near empty fuel tank so I took it to the local petrol station which turned out to be shut for renovations. I got a bit panicky as the next petrol station was nearly 10 minutes away and the fuel gauge had dropped off the scale.
With sensible planning, you can travel anywhere in the UK using current EV’s and infrastructure but of course, it’s about to get a whole lot better over the next few years. At the moment there’s a certain exhilaration and adventure to achieving longer journeys in an EV, it’s very exciting! Petrol cars in the UK faced far worse infrastructure problems in their early days, it was 25 years before they got the first fuel station and in the meantime had to purchase fuel from chemists, hardware stores and hotels in 2-gallon cans.
After a refreshing holiday in Exmouth including swimming in the sea and a meal on a floating restaurant it was time to go home. The return journey was a lot of fun and it's worth mentioning my wife is an excellent driver. We packed up and pulled up at a local charger to get the car setup for the return journey and there we met a Renault Zoe owning family who was also returning from their holiday. 100 miles later we coincidentally met again at another charger so had an enthusiastic chat while our cars recharged.
It doesn’t take much planning to make long journeys in an EV realistic but I would always emphasise the importance and health benefits of resting every 2 hours which allows for that natural recharge break for the car and its occupants. I also doubt I’ll ever tire of plugging my Leaf into a rapid charger and talking to some random passer-by about how awesome my car is.
Rob Cooling is a driving instructor and is passionate about electric vehicles. He made the switch to EVs in 2017 and his only regret is not doing it sooner. Read our interview with Rob if you haven't already.