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Public charging - experiences in Oct 22

pdk42

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
1,352
1,488
Leamington
We just had a week up in Northumberland and decided to take my wife’s ID3 for a bit of an experiment in doing longer journeys away from home in a non Tesla EV. Whilst we did get through it all, there were enough issues to remind me that we’re still not there with public charging infrastructure yet. For example:

- We stopped first with family at Darlington for a few days and used the InstaVolt chargers at Bannatyne Heath Club. InstaVolt are generally reliable and that was true here - but it was very pricey and our plan to charge to 100% before heading further north was abandoned when we arrived to find both the devices in use and two cars waiting - probably an hour’s wait given they are only 50kW devices and both the people waiting said they needed a decent fill up.

- Having not charged at Darlington I took a look at Zap Map and found Hexham has a number of rapids, incl three in the Waitrose car park in the centre. When we got there we found all three units dead - two wrapped in hi viz tape and clearly dead for some time, and the other refusing to initiate a charge.

- We then tried Hexham hospital which has one 50kW unit and arrived to find it occupied. But we were the only ones waiting so we kicked our heels for 25 mins whilst the car before us finished (who annoyingly charged to 100%!).

- The lodgings we’d booked in Northumberland didn’t offer EV charging, so we needed to find somewhere to charge since we had some trips planned. Thankfully, Northumberland CC have installed a number of 50kW rapids around the county and we used chargers at Bellingham and Kielder without problems - phew. But in all cases they are single units prone to being ICEd, out of order, or in use (with the driver probably on walkabouts or shopping!). Not good for stress levels.

- Returning, we needed one stop en route. We tried the VW Sat Nav, but it’s hopeless - choosing bizarre slow charging stops and ignoring the faster options. So, I decided to go for Wetherby GridServe since it has a large number of 350kW rapids and a smaller number of 50kW devices. What could go wrong? Aside from the place being very busy (in the middle of the day), we had multiple charging problems. The only two 350kW units not occupied both failed with “Charging delayed until power is available” and then “Charging finished” but with nothing supplied to the car. Switching to the 50kW units, the first failed with “Isolation error”. Thankfully the second (and last remaining option) worked.

So the take home…. availability, reliability, and the planning tools for using a non Tesla EV are still not really good enough if you do a lot of driving and want a stress free experience.

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(Admin note: Stock photo for thumbnnail)
 

UkNorthampton

TSLA - 12+ startups in 1
Jun 15, 2019
1,307
10,255
Northampton, England
So the take home…. availability, reliability, and the planning tools for using a non Tesla EV are still not really good enough if you do a lot of driving and want a stress free experience.

Yeah non-Tesla do-able but not as convenient YET.

Tesla an absolute breeze except for sometimes the last few yards combined with one-way systems/gates near motorways.

Comparing the 2 cars must really reinforce the lessons.
 
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pdk42

Active Member
Jul 17, 2019
1,352
1,488
Leamington
Looking at my post, it's a bit long... sorry. Bottom line/TLDR:

- Too many broken chargers, some for months
- Too few chargers in general, and lots of sites with just one or two rapids
- Sites with one or only two devices are guaranteed to cause queuing for long periods
- Too many chargers (even rapids) are ICEd or have EVs parked there for hours
- Excessive waiting at some places

I have to say that if I were doing these sort of trips often, I'd ditch the EV and go back to ICE.
 
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freekie

Member
Sep 10, 2019
265
111
UK
But now the non Tesla’s can use Tesla superchargers so that will help them. Just back from a trip to Scotland. Ensured we did a full charge at last supercharger before our destination to keep us going for our few days. Then topped up at a fastish village charger to get us to the first supercharger for return journey. The village charger was next to a golf course and only allowed a max charge time of 45 mins with £30 fine if you go over. Was lucky to find it unoccupied but maybe that was down to the 45 min limit.
 
But now the non Tesla’s can use Tesla superchargers so that will help them. Just back from a trip to Scotland. Ensured we did a full charge at last supercharger before our destination to keep us going for our few days. Then topped up at a fastish village charger to get us to the first supercharger for return journey. The village charger was next to a golf course and only allowed a max charge time of 45 mins with £30 fine if you go over. Was lucky to find it unoccupied but maybe that was down to the 45 min limit.
That is the problem, the so called public chargers aren't. Since they are placed on private land, they are for patrons/customers only.
 
We've been fully-electric since 2013, and what was then Ecotricity's Electric Highway (now GridServe?) was reliable enough to do journeys from the south-east to Birmingham and back, in a car with about 80 miles range on the motorway. Everything else was extremely unreliable though.

Do you use Zap Map? I find the 'reported issues' attached to each charger to be pretty valuable information.
 

yessuz

Active Member
Dec 30, 2021
1,431
962
Midlands
the hotel I stay usually on my weekly trips to office, have a MER chargers.

Interestingly, when i signed up for the first time, it was completely free. 3 months later it started to charge 25p/kwh for 7kw charger. it's not bad, especially if my free charger at work fails, so I can have at least an option, but overall I wonder, if this was a fluke of luck or just like 3 month promotion for free charging... if that's the case, then I might be in the position to create a million new accounts every 3 months :D
 

Jason71

Active Member
May 8, 2019
4,676
5,267
Shropshire
the hotel I stay usually on my weekly trips to office, have a MER chargers.

Interestingly, when i signed up for the first time, it was completely free. 3 months later it started to charge 25p/kwh for 7kw charger. it's not bad, especially if my free charger at work fails, so I can have at least an option, but overall I wonder, if this was a fluke of luck or just like 3 month promotion for free charging... if that's the case, then I might be in the position to create a million new accounts every 3 months :D
check out Mollies in Bristol if you are passing that way. This is how all hotels should be one day:
multiple (8+) 22KW chargers reserveable via the app. Used to be free as well. not sure now.
 

tivoboy

Active Member
Jun 12, 2018
2,511
5,919
palo alto, ca
Tesla certainly has a long lead with number of SC’s, locations and number of SC’s PER location.. but I will say, my most recent experience on a local 500 mile road tip with charging was sub-par.. getting to 150 kWh and 250kwh stations that only delivery 45-50 kWh regardless of how many cars are there (none - 1 in this case) isn’t the built in expectation for charging hops and stops with Tesla. No rhyme or reason for why either, and trying 2-3 different SC Stalls didn’t change anything.

The real kicked was I try to get to a 250 kWh station with purposely LOW SOC, so at 45 kwh charging speed it takes a LONG time to get the required amount of range to reach the next Charger - which sadly did the same thing.
 
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yessuz

Active Member
Dec 30, 2021
1,431
962
Midlands
Tesla certainly has a long lead with number of SC’s, locations and number of SC’s PER location.. but I will say, my most recent experience on a local 500 mile road tip with charging was sub-par.. getting to 150 kWh and 250kwh stations that only delivery 45-50 kWh regardless of how many cars are there (none - 1 in this case) isn’t the built in expectation for charging hops and stops with Tesla. No rhyme or reason for why either, and trying 2-3 different SC Stalls didn’t change anything.

The real kicked was I try to get to a 250 kWh station with purposely LOW SOC, so at 45 kwh charging speed it takes a LONG time to get the required amount of range to reach the next Charger - which sadly did the same thing.
Do you have a SC as your destination in sat nav?
 
Interesting to read. My sister-in-law has just visited the UK from her house in the middle of Switzerland and toured northern England, midlands and then back over to the continent via Eurotunnel. She has an Hyundai Ioniq 5 and suggested she had no worries with charging. I was pleased as she followed us into EV ownership.

It seems like they often found themselves charging at Porsche dealerships for whatever reason.
 
I didn’t know Porsche dealerships allowed the great unwashed to use their chargers!
Neither did I. Maybe having a Swiss plate on their car discouraged anyone from challenging them.

I still love my Tesla for what it does best but if parking sensors are disabled before vision matches its performance I’m going to more seriously search for a car to swap too.

I drove 3000 miles in Switzerland and France in August and felt it was the supercharger network that made it so stress free but their experience made me think it maybe wasn’t so essential. Feedback above has now tempered that view 🤷‍♂️.
 
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Our next car will have a 3kW power outlet so we will be able to charge away from home from that.

It will be quite slow compared to supercharging but hopefully will make a custom a short lead to allow is to charge whilst driving. That will give a decent range extension - probably a 10% boost over a 3 hour drive.

It’s such a simple idea I’m surprised no one has thought of it before. BMW sort of did with their range extender but that used a separate ICE. I don’t know why they didn’t use their cars battery as it would have been much cleaner and they could have left the car charging whilst parked up.
 
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Your experience echoes mine here down in West Sussex, where whilst saving up for a longer range EV (MYLR or EV6), I'm pootling around in an old 2011 Nissan Leaf with max of 40 range. But My journeys are short, other than local shopping, trips to Brighton and Chichester from Worthing. Brighton, being a fairly liberal city (you don't say?!), is well equipped with chargers, including in several multi-stories. Being there are at least 6 outlets (2 per pump), it's rare you cannot get a spot and I have yet to come across a faulty one. Yay! In Chichester, albeit a more 'conservative' town, it's a nightmare. The few pumps in town centre are often out of order, forcing you to drive to another car park. (Admittedly, one does forget to check with zapmap first, but it's not always up to date.) Either way, it is clear to me the UK needs a multi billion pound investment in EASY TO SEE from the road, intuitive to use, reliable, fast, clean energy powered branded charging hubs. When driving a petrol car, you can clearly see a petrol station a mile off due to the branding and design. And you tend to know there will often be one near a large supermarket, so driving an ICE is less hit and miss. We need EV chargers to be located where we expect them and should NOT have to use apps to find them. And it should be law that faulty chargers are repaired within 12 hours. I'm shocked how some remain broken for days or even weeks on end. It almost convinces me the oil companies are sabotaging them. I'm an electronics engineer and just don't comprehend why a mainly solid state piece of machinery, cooling fans aside, fails?
If it was not for Tesla's smart move to build out Superchargers in parallel with selling EVs, It's my opinion the EV revolution would have sadly been still born. Anyway, watch this space for there is hope yet!
 

pgkevet

Active Member
Jul 1, 2019
1,971
1,798
mid wales
Our next car will have a 3kW power outlet so we will be able to charge away from home from that.

It will be quite slow compared to supercharging but hopefully will make a custom a short lead to allow is to charge whilst driving. That will give a decent range extension - probably a 10% boost over a 3 hour drive.

It’s such a simple idea I’m surprised no one has thought of it before. BMW sort of did with their range extender but that used a separate ICE. I don’t know why they didn’t use their cars battery as it would have been much cleaner and they could have left the car charging whilst parked up.
Am I the only one confused by this? Are you planning to stick a petrol generator in the boot, or is this some clever ploy to break all the rules of physics by recharging the car from its own batteries on the move? Why not just stick a wind turbine on the roof and sell your even greater excess generation....?
 

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