The EV life isn’t always so EZ
It doesn’t take much to discover just how fragile our charging infrastructure is.
CHARGING IS less hassle than some make out, but still requires serious forethought and isn’t without hiccups. I’ve been using the Leaf for airport runs, swishing silently to Heathrow for some early-morning flights, quietly hoping that there will be a spare charging bay to leave the Leaf chowing down on some kilowatts in while I’m away. I left the Leaf at Heathrow T5’s short stay car park – it’s pricey, but it’s the only official car park with any EV charging stations, hosted by Pod Point. There are only four EV bays in the whole 3000-bay multi-storey, and none elsewhere within the terminal’s official car parks. Terminal 2 has 26, while T3 and T4 can both serve only four cars at a time, all in short stay parking.
Anyway, I luckily nab a space, plug in, confirm the charge on the Pod Point app and head off to catch my flight. An hour later, just as I’m sitting down for take-off, the NissanConnect app notifies me of a ‘successful’ charge which has added just eight per cent, taking the battery up to 28 per cent (around 40 miles). Not enough, as my journey home is 96 miles and that assumes there won’t be significant delays or roadwork diversions, and doesn’t factor in a heavy right foot. I had to hit ‘confirm charge’ four more times on the journey to make sure I had enough power to get back home on my return – not exactly stress-free.
EVs should come with an advisory to ensure you’re handy with a smartphone. If you’re planning on making the switch, sign up for accounts on Ecotricity, Polar and Pod Point ahead of time on your smartphone. It’ll save you faff come charging time when plugging into one of the three biggest charging networks in the UK.
Zap-Map, the app that plots charge points and uses Waze-like crowd-sourcing to warn of non-functional or busy chargers, is a big help in staying ahead of the curve.
Plenty of EV users have used the app as a way of making their feelings known about the insufficient number of chargers at key spots such as airports, and now I know exactly what they’re talking about. The infrastructure is improving hugely, but there’s still quite a way to go.