Cupra Born 230

EV charging woes hit home as our Born ventures further afield

- Jordan Katsianis (@Jordankats­ianis)

IF YOU DROVE A LONG DISTANCE IN AN EV during the recent holiday period, chances are you have an opinion about the state of the public charging network in the UK. Of course, everyone’s experience is different, but generally speaking, it’s not great.

I won’t go into how and why the system at large doesn’t work – that’s a job for the Daily Mail or your Twitter feed – but the Christmas break will have reiterated to many why we’re still a long way off being able to support a wholesale adoption of electric vehicles on these shores.

For our Born, I depend entirely on the public charging network as I don’t have any off-street parking. With my typical and admittedly narrow usage pattern, I’m glad to report that this works quite well. I rely almost exclusivel­y on the Ubitricity network, which is a collection of 5.5kwh charging points that are usually integrated into streetlamp­s and operated via your phone after scanning a small QR code displayed at the site. It’s simple to use: there are no membership­s, no RFID cards and no freestandi­ng electrical interfaces to worry about.

It’s not a fast charge, but this doesn’t usually matter to me as I tend to charge overnight, and there are so many charging points around London that access isn’t a problem either. Almost every second lamp post in my immediate few blocks has a point installed, with more being added every month – the latest being three metres from my front door, which is handy.

It’s not quite the bargain it once was due to the rise in energy prices, though. Ubitricity currently charges 45p per kwh as long as you avoid the peak period of 4pm to 7pm, where it’s 75p per kwh. For our Cupra, which has been averaging around 3 miles per kwh, this equates to 15p per mile, which is only around 5p per mile less than a serious hot hatchback such as a VW Golf R or Honda Civic Type R can manage on a longer run with current unleaded prices.

But when I escape London for any length of time, this reliabilit­y and consistenc­y quickly diminishes. My holiday break took me to Oxford, so hardly the most remote of locations, yet access to public charging was useless. There wasn’t a single charging point within walking distance of my location, and very few public points at all to be found outside the city centre.

So maybe there’s something to learn here. As well as an expansion of high-speed charging points on motorways, it feels like another piece of the infrastruc­ture that’s currently missing is slower, simpler points in much greater quantities around high-density areas.

Date acquired August 2022 Total mileage 5263 Mileage this month 375 Costs this month £0 mi/kwh this month 3.0

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