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…

oh…

anyway,

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

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!

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

:)

EV Charging

So I still don’t have my home charger installed yet, so I am having to rely on local chargers to sort me out. Fortunately, due to the holidays, I am not really driving far but so far both charging experiences have been fraught with lots of ‘for fuck’s sake’s and other profanity.

On Monday I drove down to the College to get a wee top up charge. On returning via the bus (yes, I got on a bus and quite pleasant it was also although the lady who collared me waiting for the bus home after dropping the car off, proceeded to tell me all about her life, her son’s wonderful ex-wife, he son’s wonderful new girlfriend, the fact that her some was an ‘arsehole’ and he beautiful grand-daughter sort of put me off waiting for buses without headphones in ever again). Anyway, I got back to the car and remembering where the hidden ‘stop charging’ option was in the ChargeYourCar app, I pressed the button to release the charging cable.

I should probably add at this moment that when pressing ‘Start Charge’ on the app, it does tell you how to turn it off – serves me right for not RTFM’ing I guess!

Back to the cable. It didn’t release. Again.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKK!

I pulled. I reconnected. I restarted. I restopped. (Sorry). Stuck.

In the end I called ChargeYourCar up only to find the office had closed. The recorded message gave me an emergency number (basically a guy with a mobile) but given it is a new car, I had no pen and paper so had to call them three times to try and memorise the number. By this time I was fuming and ready to kick shit out of the damn thing. Anyway, the pleasant chap helped me out, but as I pulled the cable out I got the feeling that it was just me not pulling hard enough that meant it wasn’t released.

So I got a full charge but with more pain and frustration. I did eventually manage to get my services account setup so I can check the current charge from my phone and also pre-heat the car when on charge remotely which will be handy if this crap wet and windy weather gives way to a proper east-coast-Scotland winter in the near future.

Still enjoying the car and how quiet it is. Realised the other day that the stereo defaulted to ‘shite mode’. It wasn’t stated as such in the UI but it probably should have been as pressing a little tick box made it sound infinitely better and turned all the speakers on. I still can’t change the noise that plays under 20mph to stop stupid people who don’t look when crossing the road from walking out in front of me (also the visually impaired I guess), but that is just a small thing.

Final thing is that it was originally white but with the crappy weather it is now a nice shade of mud.