It's been a few months since my last update here on the blog about life as the driver of a purely electric vehicle, though I have added a couple of videos to YouTube over the summer which are proving helpful to people. Indeed, I have heard from a couple of folks who have contacted me to say the videos have helped sway them to go and purchase an electric vehicle themselves. Great stuff!
Last week we also had a couple of newspaper articles in the Evening Express and in the free Citizen paper about the plans to have a charging point installed at the church. This is currently going through the planning process with Aberdeen City Council, which has proven to be rather a complicated process. In the middle of that process I received communication from the Energy Saving Trust (who are funding the installation of the charger) with notice of updated legislation from the Scottish Government that was passed at the end of June that relaxes the planning rules on charging points to enable them to be installed without planning permission being required, however one of the remaining exceptions to this relaxation is in the case of conservation areas which would still apply to us. Good news, however, for other organisations or businesses who want to install charging points on their property.
So, how is it going with my wee Renault ZOE? I have now covered nearly 5,000 miles without any problems from the car. I have not run out of energy at any time, though I have intentionally got very close on a couple of occasions when really pushing the range, for instance in driving down to Kinross from Aberdeen in one charge (around 95 miles) which left me just with 2% on the battery when I got to the rapid charger at Kinross services. I would not try that in the cold weather of winter, but it is quite possible during the summer which means a trip to Edinburgh just involves one charge en route.
The same has proven true for Glasgow. Andrew and I drove down a month ago for a concert at the O2 Academy and back in the same day. On the way down we drove fast and stopped more often as I had heard there was a new rapid charger just installed at Forfar which I wanted to try out - although when we got there we found it was not commisioned, so we let the car charge on the slow charger in the council car park while we got lunch at McDonald's. Then we got a faster top up for 20 minutes or so at Perth, another quick top up at Stirling services. We were driving at 70 mph inbetween. That saw us down to Glasgow where we collected a bundle of bags of goodies we used for the circus themed kid's summer club in Hamilton and then headed over to the West side of the city. We let the car charge to 100% using the rapid charger at Ikea and met another EV driver in a Nissan Leaf at the same time.
On the way home in the small hours after the concert (Extreme, who lived up to their name, being extremely loud!), we drove home using a different strategy: slower driving, fewer stops. Cruising at 60 mph on the motorway and then gently across country from Perth to Forfar, we got back to Aberdeen with just one stop in Perth to charge up. It is a more efficient way of doing long journeys, for sure, and proves more restful when driving.
Quite a few people have asked me about what happens to the battery of the car if the car is left for a period. Does the battery lose charge in the same way that your phone or laptop battery loses charge even when the car is not used? So I tried an experiment using the time we were away on holiday when the car was left unused for more than two weeks. The result? It dropped 2% (probably actually only 1% as I had driven a mile or so after charging the car to 100% before we left) to 98% over that fornight. In other words, it is not an issue at all and you could leave the car for a few months without any worry.
Any regrets so far? None as yet. The car has behaved itself fine and is proving a very easy companion for journeys short and long. The only issues I have had have been because of faulty charging equipment on the road side rather than the car, but I have never found myself in a situation where I am stranded. Generally I have been alerted to problems with the charging network through the online community of EV drivers in Scotland. A good bunch of folks all seeking to make it ever easier for others to join the EV community.
It has been noticable even in the eight months that I have been EV driving that the infrastructure is getting better and long journeys are becoming easier and easier. The growth of the network of chargers could be faster, for sure, and there are some strange decisions made on locations and some complete mess-ups over installations (Perth & Kinross, I am looking at you!) but the network is getting there.