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Electric cars are good for pollution and reducing climate change. These, by themselves, are very good reasons for getting an electric car.
Electric vehicles (EVs) work very well for short-medium journeys but 'range anxiety' has slowed the adoption of EVs. In fact, range isn't the problem because most people have a break within three hours. The real problem is the infrastructure - lack of working chargers.
What is the range of an electric car?
The official range of a VW ID.3 is 260 miles but, according to Zap Map, 247 miles is the real world range.
To conserve battery life, it is recommended that a vehicle should not be charged higher than 80%. To lower the chance of getting stranded, it is also recommended that you should recharge before the charge falls below 20%. Taking these two figures together leaves a real world range of 148 miles or approximately 25 miles for every 10% of charge.
Acceleration, speeds above 60mph, heating and air conditioning reduce reduce this range.
Driving smoothly at speeds between 55-60 mph, using regenerative braking and opening the windows instead of using the air conditioning can increase the range.
This wouldn’t be a problem if there was a good charging infrastructure. A rapid charger should be able to charge an ID.3 from 20% to 80% in 45 minutes.
Most rapid chargers are found at motorway service stations so if your route doesn't include a motorway, getting to your destination could prove difficult.
Also, there is often only one of each type of connector at service stations. Although there are two different connectors on each charger, sometimes only one can be used at a time. Often, all the chargers are in use when you arrive. Out-of-service chargers add to the problem of getting recharged.
Once, I had to drive 195 miles on a 90% charge. Towards the end of the journey, I got an amber warning about the charge getting low.
Tesla who has the biggest charging network has recently announced that it will make its chargers available to other manufacturers' EVs. Currently, they are running tests at 400 locations in the Netherlands.
If the rapid chargers are unavailable, For example, you could try using so-called 'fast' chargers. Ecotricity's fast chargers are supposed to be rated at 43 kW but the maximum charge rate that I have got is 15 miles range per hour of charging compared with 34 mph with my 7.5kW home charger! I have 30 miles range per hour at Podpoint's fast chargers at Tesco stores
When you are using a charger, you should be aware that:
- If the light is bright, you can't read the screen
- If it rains, you get soaking wet.
- If there's a thunderstorm, don't risk using the charger.
Charging payments and charger control
Some chargers use credit card contactless payments and others use their own apps - some of which are less than perfect.
Unfortunately, manufacturers have not agreed on a standard connector which has led to several incompatible types (see below). However, the standard does seem to be moving towards the CCS connector which is the one that Tesla is using.
3-7 kW AC, Single Phase, Slow/Fast
3-43 kW AC, Single/Three Phase, Fast
50 kW DC, Rapid
50-350 kW DC, Rapid
Even with a government grant, electric cars are expensive to buy - not least because there are few secondhand cars on the market.
The net storage of an ID.3 is 58 kWh. The cost of fully charging at home (17p/kWh) is about £10 so the electricity cost per mile is about 4-5p. This compares with about 12-14p per mile for fossil fuels.
In the UK, the road tax is zero but you do have to go online each year to 'tax' it.
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