Plan, Plan, Plan

Unlike with an internal combustion engine (ICE) where you can spend 5 minutes feeding your car with 300+ miles of range (James May called it ‘fuel density’ which is good phrase), a longer EV journey without having a Tesla calls for a bit of planning.

I am heading down to Edinburgh on Friday to attend the eSpark launch at RBS and going to take the EV to help save a few trees. Unfortunately there isn’t a charger at RBS and at 75 miles, it is right at the edge of my range given the current temperatures. The plan at the moment is to give myself a quick 20 minute charge at Kinross services which should give me an extra 20% – enough to get me back there again on the return journey if the chargers at Ingliston Park and Ride are full of bloody hybrid owners.

It does mean that the normal 90 minute journey is likely to take nearly double that due to the charging en-route, and parking away at the Park and Ride before taking a tram to Gogarburn. If nothing else, it should be interesting but if it all goes to pot you could see me screaming and ranting on Friday night.

So the plan is to leave at 07:00 with a full battery. Around 8:30 I’ll reach Kinross and hopefully use a Rapid charger for 20-30 minutes which should take me up to around 50% full again. Get to the Park and Ride around 9:30 and hopefully fully charge there whilst I jump on the tram one stop to Gogarburn. One the way back, if I am fully charged I can probably make it all the way home if I drive carefully.

With me luck!

Ker–ching..!

So someone asked what the price differentials were.

So, at the moment in the current weather conditions, I am getting just over 3 miles per kilowatt of charge – however apparently it averages out at 3.5 miles over the year. I’m paying 8p per kilowatt so to try and provide a comparison of ‘fuel’ costs against a traditional ICE (assuming 50mpg and £1.00 per litre):

EV: £0.80 for 35 miles driving

ICE: £3.00 for 33 miles driving

Quite a bit cheaper then, even more so when you consider zero road tax, zero congestion charge and reduced insurance. Considering I charge most of the time at public points whilst at work, it makes it even better. I think I have probably used about 40Kw charging at home (ie. not that much), and have done 600 miles for that £4.50 worth of electricity — bargain :)

What puts people off is the initial cost which did used to be pretty high. However, if you can catch a decent offer then it definitely makes financial sense. For a two year PCP, I am paying £80 a month for the car and £80 a month to lease the battery – £160 a month. I was paying £200 a month for the old Kia along with £120 a month fuel and £15 a month road tax.

You do the maths :)

Not prime-time ready…

So it has been a month since I got the Zoe and whilst it is a great car to do the commute in with minimal costs, I now feel that it could be another 10 years before EV’s tip into the mainstream? Why? Ignorance…

There was a phone in on the radio earlier this week and it was astonishing how little these auto experts knew; or maybe they did know and decided to just provide untruths in order to further their own agenda? No idea, but anyone listening would be put off an EV at the moment. Which to be honest, is fine with me as the charging infrastructure just isn’t ready for an upturn in EV numbers.

So lets try and counter some of their bullshit. Firstly ‘Range Anxiety’ which is indeed a thing amongst EV owners, but the majority of the UK has some form of charging available and lets be honest, if all owners got a home charger installed (I’m looking at you Leaf owners), then most drivers don’t cover 100 miles between visits home. Of course there are some but the majority don’t and when you can charge at night, range anxiety doesn’t become a problem. For longer journeys you just need to plan a bit better and yes, it will take longer to get there but you’ll have far more money in your pocket to get ripped off at KFC/McDonalds service station mark-ups!

The second point that was raised was the ‘cleanliness’ of EV’s. The argument was that they use electricity therefore they aren’t clean. Now I’m not sure if anyone has ever said they were, but the lack of emissions has obviously got to be better for the environment than the carbon monoxide and particulates pumped out by ICE vehicles and VW’s!

There was more but to be honest, I have better things to do with my time that counter bullshitting bellends who are terrified they will lose the ability to appreciate a purring V8 (which they wont).

In other news, the warm temperatures earlier in the week (for warm, I mean above 5 degrees) meant the range shot up and a full charge was showing 80+ miles on the Guess-O-Meter. Roll on summer, not that it matters that much to me given I can charge at work!

Finally, I am down at RBS in Edinburgh next week and trying to work out how I can get there in the EV. It is right at the end of the range and there is no destination charger but I think I can stop at Kinross and use the Rapid Charger there for 15 minutes to give myself a top-up, and leave it on charge at the Park and Ride and jump the tram. Be the first ‘longer distance’ journey so fingers crossed!

Photo by eRUDA.de

Not posted anything for a wee while so thought I would provide an update on the EV after the first month. Now that it is back from the dealer with the brake switch repaired, it is driving like a dream. Regenerative braking no longer applies a 3G force to you and the range has definitely improved.

Interestingly, the range-guess-o-meter was showing just under 70 miles from a full charge with the outside temperature around 2-3 degrees over the New Year. Since it has become milder outside, this has risen at least 10 miles and seems to increase with every warmer degree. Looks like 100 miles from a full charge should be achievable once the Scottish summer kicks in and we get into temperature double figures.

The installation of my home charger also means I don’t have to try and cope with the cockspangle Leaf and PHEV drivers who hog the charging points for days upon end. Mind you, I haven’t taken a long trip yet – the first one will be in a few weeks where I have a meeting in Edinburgh. The plan is to drive to the park and ride where there are charging points, and jump on a tram. Can’t find any long term airport car parks that provide a charging service yet so not too sure what to do regarding two business trips I have coming up in March.

Anyway, all is well and if the price of the Zoe comes down again (the deal I got seems to have gone now), I would heartily recommend it for anyone with a commute of under 20 miles, or anyone with a charging point near to their workplace.

Oh, and did I say that with no gearbox that the torque delivery is awesome meaning the 0-30 acceleration from the lights is amazing – boy racers in their dustbin exhausted Corsa’s just can’t keep up :)

Best and Worst

This all happened 18 years ago today (15th January 1998) and given the significance of this day, I thought it worthwhile posting…

 

BEST AND WORST

I’m not sure many people can state that the best and worst day of their lives happened at the same time, but January 15th 1998 definitely ticks both boxes for me. Like most days, it started by being yanked from sleep by the abrupt and completely unnatural beep of the alarm. Like most days, it continued with a desperate scramble for the snooze button before wearily pulling my bones out of the warm and snuggly duvet and out into the cold world of our bedroom on a bright January morning.

After the usual ablutions, a quick breakfast was taken before kissing my pregnant wife goodbye and getting into the car. It had been a frosty night and with my old Ford Granada neither having a heated windscreen nor a well performing thermostat, I enjoyed five minutes shivering inside a bright white world whilst the engine warmed up and pushed much needed hot air around to defrost the view onto the morning. Being the lazy sort of guy, I prefer shivering to the ritual of spraying de-icer onto the screen or using a credit card to scrape the night’s frost away. Up to temperature and with the ability to see the road ahead, the old girl got placed into ‘Drive’ and away we went.

In keeping with how routine the day was, the local commercial radio station spewed its usual nonsense through the stereo. Someone had obviously decided that the best content for the morning commute is to listen to the same five songs over and over, interspersed with the jolly traffic person rambling on about how many queues you had to look forward to. Mind you, if this was the sole basis of morning commercial radio it wouldn’t be so bad but alas every five minutes the preserve of failed composers and songwriters reared its ugly head with the local radio ads. It shows how bad you are if in your creative life you are resorting to rhyming ‘bed’ and ‘shed’ for a local DIY store; but at least the last ten seconds writes itself – the singing of the phone number. Twice.

This was a time before iTunes, Spotify and other marvellous musical magic and we were pretty much stuck with what was thrown at us through the radio. How we coped listening to such drivel still astounds but it made me realise that my job was a lot cooler than many others in media and entertainment – I was a Producer at Sony; the games division.

I walked into the large glass building after parking and said my usual hello to Bill the security guard. Now I’m not entirely sure how much security Bill provided; he was a lovely chap but spent most of his time spreading the company gossip around and having earned his free bus pass at least a decade earlier, he neither provided a visual deterrent nor seemingly had the ability to chase anyone. Entering our studio I was again the first person in so made the usual gallon of tea in my oversized Sports Direct mug and sat down to read through email and open the newspaper.

It was a routine morning for the team and myself containing the usual arguments between the creatives and the engineers. During a self-appraisal I described the job (and still do for that matter) as herding cats, and that day I was on top form in convincing both feline sides to point in the right direction.

 

And then the phone rang.

 

Nothing really new in this. My phone rang a fair bit usually passing on a message asking if I was heading outside for a cigarette. Whilst I was needing a nicotine fix, this time it was Sarah my wife who whilst she did tend to call regularly, she never really called me whilst upset.

‘Lol, you really need to come home’, I heard as her voice wavered. ‘There is something wrong. I’m at Fazakerley Hospital and they are saying something is wrong. I don’t understand them and your mum is on her way down. Can you come home?’, she replied when I asked her what was the matter.

There was something in her voice that I hadn’t become familiar with during our 3 years together which made me a little worried. After speaking to my manager (a rather useless chap who was new to the role and had spent his first month solely asking everyone which company car he should choose) who told me in no uncertain terms to get home, I jumped back in the car and managed to get to the hospital without scoring any points on my license.

Fortunately, Fazakerley Hospital had a sensible parking policy which didn’t involve having to run outside every 30 minutes to put another tenner in the meter, so I was inside pretty quickly and wandering around trying to find the signs for Maternity. After reaching the exit of the maze marked Maternity, I was informed by a rather brusque nurse that Obstetrics was where I needed to be and of course, due to the sadistic pleasures of hospital architects and planners, Obstetrics was in another building.

Eventually I conquered the hospital maze and found Sarah lying in a bed on a small ward along with my mum. I remember her scared face, her normally slightly pink cheeks were pale and her eyes red from crying. To be honest, as soon as I saw her I feared the worst and I felt my stomach plummet. My mum who must have read the thoughts on my face, quickly told me that the routine check had shown an issue and a scan had confirmed that our little baby who still had two more months to slowly bake in the maternal oven, had stopped growing. Before I had a chance to absorb this information and clench Sarah’s hand, a Doctor walked in. I’m pretty sure I did a comedy double-take as the chap was the doppelganger of Jim Dale who played the hapless Doctor in numerous Carry On films. He started talking but all I could see was this chap rolling down some stairs whilst lying on a trolley! Once my brain decided to reconnect with reality I caught what he was saying.

‘…so given baby seems very small for seven months, we are going to transfer Sarah to the Women’s Hospital where they can provide more specialist care for both.’

It is hard to explain how I felt at that point. As the period silently emerged from Dr Jim’s mouth at the end of that sentence, I knew everything had suddenly become very real. It wasn’t just our little bump that was in trouble, it was Sarah as well. Now we had only been together for three years and on our first date she jumped in a taxi with a guy that wasn’t me, but we were in love enough to move out of our parents for the first time, buy a house together and get pregnant within days of moving into our tiny shoebox. And now she was seriously ill. I didn’t actually find out until much later in the day that she had Lupus and it was likely the root cause of all the issues.

Within five minutes a porter had arrived and told us that he was taking Sarah to a waiting ambulance to take the ten mile journey along to the Women’s Hospital in the centre of town. I followed as best I could but even though the lights and siren weren’t on, other vehicles moved out of the way; a courtesy that wasn’t extended to the guy trying to follow in the old Ford Granada.

The Women’s Hospital was pretty new back in 1998 and was a properly designed hospital. Parking was easy and Obstetrics was just one floor from Maternity – unfortunately, this time Sarah had been taken to Maternity whereas I was looking for her in Obstetrics! I chuckled when I realised which looking back was a bit strange given the situation, although on further reflection when things have gone wrong in life I have tended to laugh rather than cry. Anyway, there she was in Obstetrics surrounded by lots of people in white coats and scrubs before the curtain went around her bed and I was shoved away. It seemed an age to be waiting without knowing anything and I started to get angry that I had been disconnected from the whole situation so efficiently (something that would reoccur during Sarah’s depression when an unpleasant female nurse automatically assumed I was the cause through abuse, but that chapter is not for now!)

 

‘Mr Scragg?’

 

‘Mr Scragg?’. I looked up, having been pulled away from my doom laden thoughts. The doctor had a marvellously confidence-inspiring cut glass English accent and cufflinks that looked like they were more valuable than our house. I nodded and attempted a smile as it was explained that they wanted to carry out an emergency caesarian but due to Bump’s small size, they needed to try stimulate the lungs with steroids which would take a few hours to take effect. I sat next to Sarah, took her hand in mine and we waited.

We waited for four hours with nobody telling us what was going on before something happened. We now have a good idea what a proper SWAT raid feels like for the recipients. Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet. BOOM! The doors flew open and a blur of white and green raced through the door, surrounded us and within three seconds had Sarah wheeled out of the ward and down a corridor at Senna like speeds. I tried to keep up and was told that there was a theatre free and that time was of the essence. Suddenly an arm in front of me stretched across the corridor, nearly clothes-lining me with the message that I was to wait ‘…in there.’

I sat and watched the door close millimetre by millimetre. It really was the slowest closing door in the world and with a quick look around I realised that it guarded the entrance to the smallest and dullest waiting area ever. Although maybe dull is the wrong word to be honest, it was dull in a ‘nothing inside to do whilst waiting’ sort of way rather than a lack-of-colour way. Given how bright the white walls were, every delegate of the Rainbow Colour Conference was obviously present during the application. However apart from the white walls the room was empty bar two plastic seats seated opposite each other. Before my eyes had become accustomed to the brightness, the door opened again and Sarah was wheeled in on her bed.

Apparently she had been ‘prepped’ and would go into theatre shortly. She also mentioned that she would be under a general anaesthetic rather than a local so I wouldn’t be allowed in. More waiting followed as we both withdrew into our own thoughts; mine full of terror at the thought of possibly losing both my fiancée and my child – hers, well we have never really talked about it. Cutting through the silence was the feeling that everything was about to change.

Just as the door eventually closed from Sarah’s return, it reopened for the white and green blur of medical staff who wheeled Sarah out and into theatre. We held hands as long as possible before the two most loved things in my world disappeared between the double doors and all I could think about was whether I would see them again. A pretty blonde nurse took my arm and walked me up to another waiting room where I found both Sarah’s and my parents waiting. After bringing them up to speed on what was going on, my talent for waiting was tested again. It was disquieting as all five of us withdrew into our own thoughts and each and every noise outside was greeted with a straining of necks to see if it was news heading our way.

Time just ground to a halt until a commotion in the corridor led to us all seeing an incubator being rushed past before I was summoned outside. The emotional roller-coaster of that day has detuned my memory to the exact words spoken, but I recall being told I had a daughter who was extremely sick and that it would be a good idea if I were to see her now. I read between the lines and disliked the words so my mind decided to ignore them as I was guided down to the special care baby unit.

The room was small with six incubators inside, each of them surrounded by a setup of monitors that even with my level of geekdom, I would have been proud of. There she was. Bump, who had now become my daughter. My tiny daughter. Being born at seven months she was no bigger than my hand and looked lost in the large incubator. Tubes were running from all parts of her body to places I couldn’t see, but it was her skin that surprised me most – she was translucent. I had never understood why everyone said that babies were beautiful and had held my tongue on some occasions when presented with what was obviously an ugly specimen of human new-born, but I now understood why all parents feel their baby is amazing. Here was a bundle of see-through skin no bigger than my hand with dark hair all over her but she was my daughter. She may well have appeared in a Giger sketchbook but in my eyes she was beautiful – and she may die.

I looked at the doctor again and he must have read my confusion.

‘She is incredibly small and very sick. You should prepare yourself that she may not last the night…’ Those words were like being kicked over and over in the groin. I nodded my head in some semblance of understanding and looked at her. It was only now I remembered Sarah; she was okay and in recovery. The next hour is a bit of a blur as my brain must have been concentrating more on other issues than firing the correct synapses for memory retention, but at some point I headed back to let the parents know the news before sitting next to Sarah and waiting for her to wake.

Eventually I was told to go home. It was around one in the morning by now and I had neither eaten nor smoked in twelve hours. Sarah was still groggy from the anaesthetic and I wasn’t allowed to wait at the side of my daughter so it made sense to head home and get some sleep. I dropped my in-laws off in silence before heading back to our dark and very empty home. My thoughts were like trainers in a washing machine, tumbling around and banging off the sides as I tried to collate some sense into events. For some reason, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry. My daughter was likely to die at any time and yet my internal upset wasn’t translating into tears – I didn’t realise at the time but this trait would follow me around and give the impression I was a cold hearted ogre, but the tears just didn’t come. Instead I sat in the dark with a packet of cigarettes and my thoughts ricocheting off each other.

The last thing I recall on the best and worst day of my life was four chimes from the clock before I must have fallen asleep.

As I sit here recounting the events, I can look through from my untidy office towards the living room where a beautiful, kind and intelligent seventeen year old woman is sitting. Unfortunately the Registrar wouldn’t allow us to use the name Bump, therefore she ended up as Megan.

It’s all going wrong (January 2016 edition)

What a 2016. So far we have said goodbye to Lemmy, to Bowie and today to Hans Gruber :(

This morning I said goodbye to my Zoe who was sent to the car doctor to get the massive orange spanner warning light sorted. Fortunately I got a brand new one as a courtesy car which I drove so hard, the dashboard went a strange shade of purple to show me how energy unefficient I was being – loaners really are the fastest cars in the world!

Anyway, old-age. I’m now approaching my mid-forties and tomorrow I become father to an 18 year old. How in hells name did that happen? Age is definitely catching up with my memory after spending 30 minutes swearing at the new washing machine for not working. Eventually the correct neurons lined up and I realised it was because I hadn’t turned the water back on after installing it. Damn.

Not all this weeks fuck-ups have been due to me being a dick; it’s not always my fault. The home charger was installed on Tuesday for the EV and the guy whacked off the power to the whole house. Cue every machine screaming in agony at the hard shutdown, none more so that our remote central heating that took on a mind of its own, started ignoring the thermostat and running on full whack for hours turning our house into one of the levels of Hell. Typically, I realised that it was knackered and that the Christmas chocolate I was eating was melting before I even ate it at 21:03.

The support line closed at 21:00.

Eventually I sort of turned it off to let the house stop glowing and managed to fix it properly last night (for future memory reference, take one battery out of the thermostat and when reinstalling, press and hold the minus button until the aerial icon flashes – or maybe it was the plus button. Try them both, one will work)

 

Photo by Menage a Moi

Always push it in far enough…

Two things happened today.

  1. it stopped raining for the first time this year (yes, really)
  2. I got to work with about 25 miles of battery left and couldn’t start a charge

Now not much I can do about 1, in fact it was quite nice to see that big orange burny thing in the Sky. Mind you, that is one of our ten sunny days for this year already over.

Regarding 2, I thought that swearing, smoking and swearing again would work. It didn’t. However the Zoe has an ‘ECO’ mode which will eek out any remaining charge for you so I pushed the button and the car changed from a fun, lively and warm little runabout to something from the 50’s with no acceleration and no heating. It did manage to get me home so I guess that is one thing but fuck me, my fingers were like blocks of ice when I got in!

Took a quick ride to the charger at the harbour to get some charge but as usual the local cockwomble Leaf owners were out in force, hogging the charging bays for the usual 6+ hours and using them as their own personal home parking spaces. Nuggets. Only thing worse than Leaf owners are PHEV owners who charge their 10 mile batteries in a charging bay for a whole day to avoid paying for parking.

In light of this, I take it back – Nissan Leaf drivers aren’t cockwombles, the PHEV owners are…

So off to the college for a final try and repeated red flashing lights on the charging port and the dashboard saying ‘Check Connections’. Yes, I already did that. Many fucking times. Now tell me how to bloody fix it! The anger was building whilst the fingers froze and I gave it one more time. Plugging the lead into the charging point, I suddenly realised that it went in a little further this time and with shame racing around my cold frozen cheeks, I realised that all the issues were because I hadn’t pushed it in far enough – not the first time it has happened, and not just with EV’s (fnaar, fnaar). So I managed to get a few % charge and will give it a full charge tomorrow when I’m watching the footie.

The sooner this damn home charger appears the better because this whole public charger thing (and Leaf and PHEV owners) is getting on my tits.

What I learn today:

  1. always push it in hard
  2. always push it in far enough
  3. never pull out too soon
  4. finishing too early is bad
  5. stop watching Carry On films

well maybe not the last one but you get my drift. Tomorrow involves frozen football watching whilst trying to live tweet the key points of the game on the official club account. No pressure then!

Work again? Already….?

After two weeks, I’m back in work tomorrow and I really do appreciate that I have had more time off over Christmas than many others! Back to waking up before the bloody sun and eating nocturnal cornflakes for breakfast – and for two reasons I am actually looking forward to it.

First, two weeks of doing basically nothing can be therapeutic for sure; but whilst the body may recover with a holiday, my brain has turned into mush due to complete and utter boredom. The issues with the new car have stranded us a little so we haven’t been able to do much and in the top procrastination stakes, I updated all the tasks I had on my todo list for these hols to next years Xmas hols. Yeah, I know I could have done a few things but the few things I did try almost drove me into a rage (fitting a new seal on the washing machine being one – almost lost my fingers there!).

Apart from the brain stimulation, heading back to work means I can put the new car on charge each day. Fortunately Chargemaster called today saying that they had ‘had a cancellation’ and brought my home charger install forward to next week but having a full battery will make a big difference to the EV experience.

On the EV side, we have had a few charges without incident recently which is good, however the lack of public charging points (and home one) has caused a bit of grief with other EV owners using the charging points as their own personal parking spaces and keeping their cars there 24/7 (yes, Nissan Leaf owner near the harbour, I am referring to you). At least it gives me the opportunity to call them cockwombles which has to be my favourite insult at the moment.

In other news (or similar news filed under ‘things fucked up’), the washing machine is fucked. Yes, the one I almost amputatedmy fingers fitting a new seal – within a few days the brushes have gone on the motor and given the motors seem to be buried deep in the innards of the machine, I’m buggered if I am going to lose any more skin fixing the damn thing. So, if I start wearing things from the 1980’s you’ll know I am running out of clean stuff to wear until a new one gets delivered next week. The whole process of looking for another one made me wonder how I can get something delivered from China quicker than a washing machine from Currys or Tesco but that is another anger riddled post no doubt.

The car is great, the rest no so much…

Nearly two weeks in and loving the whole EV thing.

Well, most of it. All of it apart from Chargemaster.

Part of the deal was a charger installed at home which theoretically means each morning you have a full battery to play with. Unfortunately this puts a third party company on the critical path – one which a quick Google shows many issues.

Given they have had my details since September and before Christmas they said my install would be this week (w/c 4th Jan 2016), I actually accepted delivery of my Zoe two weeks early as it wasn’t due until around now. Having just got off the phone to Chargemaster they are now saying the install won’t be until the end of the month which is a proper pain in the arse.

Now I can probably get away charging at the College when I am at the campuses with charging points, but still; surely if you get an order in September you should be able to deliver that order within 3 bloody months? Apparently they have no engineers up in Scotland so I have to wait. What sort of half-arsed excuses is that? If you have no engineers up here and 10% of the bloody population is up here, HIRE SOME.

Fucking idiots.

So, in summary, if you are considering an EV then consider who installs your charge point and if you can, avoid Chargemaster because they are fucking useless.

[UPDATE 1: About an hour after posting this, Chargemaster called back and gave me an install date of 19th January, still two weeks after originally promised. Apparently they DO have an engineer in Scotland who is due to do an install at the end of this week.]

[UPDATE 2: Two hours after posting, Renault Customer Services got in touch and said they would see if there was anything they could do to speed up the install.]

Charging success at last!!!

WooHoo! Took a drive this evening cos we are too old to go out drinking on New Years Eve anymore (and I can’t stand all that Happy New year bollocks, especially when at a party and you have to appear happy to someone you think is a dick), and realised the battery was getting low. I knew there was a fast charger over at Montrose so a quick detour got us up to 85% charge within 30 minutes. Two main points to note:

  1. don’t start charging with a window right down as to wind it back up, you need to stop the charge and start the process again
  2. this time the charger came straight out without any issues whatsoever

It was probably strange for some of the locals to walk past the sports centre and find a parked car without steamed-up windows and a brother and sister continuing the family stick inside; which would explain the strange looks we got from passers by. Anyway, I am classing this as my first charge without incident.

One thing I will mention though is that New Years Eve does seem to turn everyone into a complete arse of a driver! So many cockwombles driving right up my arse desperate to overtake and even more not looking when pulling out. Fuckwits, the lot of them!

oh yeah, Happy New Year and all that bollocks to you as well

:)