End of the freeloading

The EV world was thrown into anguish and outrage as converters suddenly realised that they would no longer get free power from Ecotricity, the motorway charging people.

It all kicked off with the early release of an app which stated that instead of free power all round, they would have to start paying £5 for each 20 minutes of charge. Cue outrage, hand wringing and abject fury from some whilst others just shrugged having expected charging for some time. I am part of the latter group, however even I was surprised at the prices. The main concerns thrown up by the community were:

  • The charge was time based therefore a car that could charge at 50Kw/h would get more power for their money than one that could charge at 22Kw/h (like my Zoe)
  • Ecotricity have a monopoly on motorway service stations and for many EV’s, it would make longer journeys far more expensive than even a moderate diesel-sipping alternative
  • One aim of the charging charge was to stop the Hybrid plug-ins (yes you lot PHEV owners!) from hogging the chargers in order to get their 20 miles of electric power
  • The hogging aim was still going to be there are Ecotricity were offering free charging to their domestic power customers (unfortunately they are around £50 a month more expensive for me!)

Anyway, Ecotricity have been friendly with the EV community over the years and they got an earbashing with the news filtering to the mainstream – this all happened late last week.

And they listened. Sort of. The charges have now been amended to £6 for 30 minutes which is more suitable for me (means on my Edinburgh Airport run, 30 minutes on the way there/back will help me complete the journey easily – if I don’t use the free chargers at Halbeath that is!).

Then came the second wave of anger. As many high-users switched over their domestic power to Ecotricity to continue getting the free charging, it was noticed that deep in the T&C’s was a limit of 52 charges per year. Cue chaos! Bit of an iffy trick to push people towards their power to get free charging and then hide a limit deep in the T&C’s, but then again you should always read the small print. You do don’t you? 🙂


After all the green-anguish it won’t affect me at all really. I think I have used an Ecotricity charger four times in the first six months and each time that was during a trip to Edinburgh. I can easily top up elsewhere but it is definitely the beginning of the end for free charging in the UK. Charge Your Car still have many free chargers in Scotland but surely they will also switch to a paid revenue model now that all the grants have dried up.

Which brings in another point. All these networks have grown due to massive subsidies – and now they are going to screw us just as much as the petrol companies do. No getting away from the corporate greed – paying for your power is fine, paying a fair price should be a requirement. I pay 10p/Kw at home, Ecotricity would charge me 60p/Kw.

Driving Electric – Six Months In

so we have had the Zoe now for just over 6 months. During that time we have covered just over 4,000 miles and to be honest, this would be a lot more if it wasn’t for the stupid decision we took when purchasing to limit the mileage to 8,000 per year.

So as I know a few readers are interested in the whole user experience, a few key notes:

  • I estimate that we have probably spent under £50 on electricity at home during those 4,000 miles. It does help that I can charge in work so I assume others will find their home power bill does increase.
  • The longest journeys I have been on have been to Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports, between 120-160 mile round trips. Both were done quite easily with the charging network although no scottish airports have off-site (read cheap) parking with EV facilities.
  • I haven’t really had any ‘range anxiety’ although I have noticed some EV drivers hogging the chargers. Specifically the two charging points down at the Harbour in Arbroath as there are always Leafs there charging for 12+ hours. Must be locals who have decided to just park and charge their rather than outside their homes – annoying for people who need to charge though!
  • I have had two issues with the car. The first was a fault that was with the car when I picked it up but fixed very quickly under warranty. The second was when it wouldn’t start one day after parking up for a few hours however leaving it locked for 10 minutes to let all the relays and motors completely power down and reset seemed to fix it and I haven’t seen it again.
  • It is comfortable and actually quite fun to drive. Sure it is an auto but with an electric motor all the torque is there constantly so you can really shoot away at the lights and annoy the hell out of BMW/Audi/Nova GTI drivers. They tend to catch up around 30-40mph but the initial acceleration is great.
  • During the winter I could probably get 70 miles from a full charge with careful driving. As it warmed up I could probably get over 100.
  • Tailgating a lorry on the motorway seriously reduces the battery usage! The range meter (which is pretty inaccurate) can actually go up!

Given the costs of the payments on the Kia that I traded in, along with fuel and tax costs, I have probably saved £900 over the first six months against when I was driving the Kia (£100 a month fuel, £15 a month tax, £30 a month loan payments).

EV’s. Highly recommended.

Now I just need to get a promotion so I can afford a Tesla 🙂

Three months in…

Three months in to Electric Vehicle ownership and there isn’t that much to add to what I have already written! The car is performing well and done over 2000 miles although with an 8000 mile per year limit (I’m regretting making it so low already), I still have to use the old Volvo from time to time.

Maybe I should be become Chancellor as whilst stupid old George ‘face like an arse’ Osbourne seems to be cocking up his budget and missing all his savings targets, mine are pretty much spot on if not greater than expected. From the Kia that I traded in, I estimate I am saving around £150 per month which is pretty damn good. I don’t miss anything from the Kia apart from maybe the heated seats but with summer coming, who cares. With the seats down it has enough space to take a few bits down to the skip and the boot is big enough to get down to the shops – even considering how many bags we buy when all we go in for is bloody bread and milk!

Next week I’m flying from Aberdeen and taking the car. I can make it up there on a single charge but as no Scottish airport parking places have chargers yet, I may as well give it a charge just before dropping it off so it will be reasonably full when I come home. I can’t be arsed getting off a flight at 22:00 on a Friday and having to add another 30 minutes to my journey home charging!

One moment of stupidity recently (well just one I am going to mention anyway) involved me making the effort to stop the Volvo looking like a outdoor khazi for seagulls and more like the comfortable, elegant, Swedish soft top cruiser that it was sold as. Meg cleaned it and I got it all nice and shiny with polish and elbow grease. The outside looks great but the inside and especially the leather shows its 135k miles! So I bought some leather restorer to make the seats look nice again. I bought the cream coloured restorer as the seats in the car I have had close to three years are cream.

Two days later, the cream leather restorer arrived.

I looked at the Volvo again.

The seats aren’t cream.

They are fucking grey.

In the whole time I have owned that damn car, the seats have been cream. As soon as I buy some stuff to make it nice, they change to grey.


Anyway, I need to change it for grey. Maybe it is just senility. Or stupidy. Probably both.





Addressing the Wombles…

Haven’t posted much recently because all is good and the car is running like a dream and still costing me next to nothing to run!

Mind you, I did see an article on Autocar recently which got on my nerves, not the article but some of the comments from the cockwombles below it. So, to alleviate that Friday anger, I thought I would respond with a ranty-post even though they will never see it. Look, it makes me feel better okay?

The article is here: http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/our-cars/buying-renault-zoe-introducing-electric-car-convert if you want some context!

Five Grand Subsidy Ahoy!

It is quite literally. Stolen from the taxpayer, in fact.

–Norma Smellons

Well Norma, you are indeed correct. When I purchased my Zoe I broke into the Treasury and stole £5,000 of your hard earned pounds to go towards my car. Although I am surprised you haven’t mentioned the money I stole from the French taxpayers as well given Renault are (allegedly) subsidising Renault anyway. What a horrendous person I am! Actually no, I take all that back Norma you fuckwit. You may have noticed that the world is getting warmer and we need to do something about it (unless of course you are either a climate change denier or a member of the Flat Earth Society in which case stop reading now and hopefully evolution will catch up to you at some point). Reducing the reliance on fossil fuels is one and avoiding pushing out lots of crap into the atmosphere by transport is another. Unfortunately new technology costs and incentives are sometimes required. I have paid my fucking taxes for nearly 30 years so its about time I got something back in the form of a subsidy to drive a car that whilst not carbon neutral, is a lot better for the climate than the majority of vehicles.

I still don’t understand why I have to subsidise other people’s motoring (if that’s the word). Most days I go to a car-park underneath Waitrose at Canary Wharf where there are 6 Tesla re-charge bays that are nearly always empty even in this glass and chrome cathedral of excessive wealth. As it’s free of charge who pays for it? Is it Tesla, or me again? Genuinely not against electric cars and the technology is obviously coming on leaps and bounds. BUT they are not Green in any way, if take up accelerates we’ll have to build more power stations to cope with demand and, tbh, I just don’t understand the subsidy argument. I live in Mallorca and have a solar array so a little i3 BMW would make great sense I guess but the price is just absurd. I’m sure the Zoe is less expensive but I don’t want one.


World class trolling here. The guy lives in Mallorca yet shops in Waitrose in Canary Wharf? What the actual fuck????

Firstly I don’t understand why I have to subsidise London and all the high capital projects that go on there (HS2, Crossrail and all the other shit that will not affect me in any way, shape or form) but I do. Some of my taxes probably paid for your fucking underground car park to be built so you could travel from your home and couple of thousand miles away to get your kale, quinoa and overpriced unicorn milk. Also, you didn’t pay for the Tesla bays you dick – Tesla paid for them.

As for not being green – they are a lot greener than the fucking flight you have to take to get to fucking Waitrose from your house. Sure they aren’t carbon neutral but I’m not sure any transport is, however one of the main charging networks uses fully sustainable power so it is closer than many other vehicles. Demand may well increase but what is the problem with more power, especially if fully green rather than brown power is being generated and used? What is your fucking problem? Your solar array isn’t very fucking green either you tool and it was pretty damn expensive when the technology came out, just like current EV’s and the BMW i3!

Jim Holder and other electric car “owners” are just like Google etc that legally avoid paying their share of taxes. The only reason for most to buy an elctric car is the tax reduction, and tax discount, not desirability of ownership. Until most, if ever, electricity is produced by non fossil fuels electric cars just shift the pollution from the car user, to make them feel good and saintly, onto others. Just like dog owners that take their dog out for a regular walk so they crap on others land and not their garden.


I’m losing the will to live. Just use a green tariff you dick and your argument disappears. Not sure what tax reduction I am getting from my EV apart from saving £15 a month on road tax – £15 a month isn’t enough of an incentive. You really don’t know your fucking arse from your elbow do you, as proven by your dog-walking point. You really think that is the only reason dogs get walked – really? Sometimes I wonder if my own efforts to do my own tiny little bit to be green and give the next generations a planet they can live on is worthwhile – when nuggets like you were there one in a million that managed to get to the egg first. How the fuck is that possible and given ‘survival of the fittest’, how bad where the rest of the sperm if you won???!?!


Happy Friday y’all!

Photo by andeecollard

as smooth as…

I was going to finish the title with a reference to a topical news story here in the UK, then I realised it was in serious bad taste so rather head down dark alleyways filled with Frankie Boyle levels of depravity, instead I am going to tell you a happy story.

And it involves Zoe.

And charging.

So, those of you who noticed the last post will know that today was the day I did my first journey in the Zoe which involved charging en-route. Meticulous planning using a combination of PlugShare, ZapMap and Google Maps provided me with a route for my journey to Edinburgh which wouldn’t leave me waiting for the cost orange arms of the RAC man to lift me onto a flatbed. I needn’t have worried as with a full charge I got to Kinross services without issue allowing me the sole use of the fast charger there. Easy.

RBS itself had a charger in its car park that I pre-booked and although it was very, very slow (3Kw I expect), it provided enough over the two hours to get back to Kinross and do another 30 minute charge to get me home. I didn’t see any other EV’s charging whilst there and it was refreshing to plug into a rapid charger and see an extra %age of battery appear every 35-40 seconds. At my age, after drinking a few coffee’s during an event, you need to stop to get rid of it so the stop wasn’t an issue (although I hasten to add that I am not yet at the age where prostrate problems mean a pee can take 30 minutes!).

The journey there took around 50 minutes more than it would have done in the Volvo due to me driving at 60, but it was fine. I even spent 20 minutes harking back to the F1 days and slipstreaming behind a truck which made a marked difference in the range.

So there you go. A good EV journey story. It’s not all faffing around and apart from the £1.00ish of power I used overnight to charge before the journey, the 150 mile round trip will have cost me nothing in fuel (although it did cost £3 bloody 50 for a Costa. Thieving swines!)

Photo by Elessar

Parking woes

Today I headed into Dundee to do some project work. ‘This should be easy’, I thought as I drove down knowing there are a few on-street charging points in the city which also allow for free parking.

Yeah, right! More chance of Trump becoming President…



South Tay Street was my first port of call. When I worked here I swear there were more parking wardens than people walking its 200 yard length. Typically, both charging bays were full; one with a ‘CarClub’ car, the other with a tatty old Fiesta which looked like it didn’t even have a petrol engine, never mind an electric one. Properly ICE’d 🙁 I consoled myself thinking that the culprit would get a ticket for parking in a space which had a massive ‘Electric Vehicles Only’ sign all over it. Hopefully they will get three…

Onwards, there are more I thought as I got lost (again) in the one way system before arriving at Dock Street. Yay! A space. Five minutes later I set off on foot with the high pitched charging sound sending all the local cats running. Five minutes after that I wondered if it was truly free on-street parking for EV’s in Dundee. Google would save me; well it would if my phone hadn’t crashed. Reboot. Another five minutes. Search, search, search.  Nothing. Not a single reference to parking charges for EV. Head battered, I walked back to the car not wanting a £60 ticket like the guy behind me. The confusing thing was that the parking area said 1 hour max, but the EV sign said 3 hours max. WTF?

Anyway, drove around the corner to the multi-storey where I know there are two chargers – and one bay is free. Park. Exit. Swipe card. FFFFUUUUUUUCCCKKK! The previous user had left their charging cable in (obviously it hadn’t been released) which meant I couldn’t use it. By this time my will-to-live o-meter was quite low until renewed by the other EV owner turning up and allowing me to use their space.

So, I managed to get a charge although it did cost £1.90 for parking. Later on, I did find a site that said on-street parking was free for charging EV’s so I’ll know for next time. You live and learn….

As for the image on this post, all I could find doing an ImageInject search for ‘sigh’ was images of the damn bridge. So here is the damn bridge….

Photo by worldaroundtrip

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!

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 🙂

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