I’ve had a few challenges in the few months that I’ve had my hybrid electric so far. Yesterday I talked about the ability to charge the car via a network of Points throughout Fife and beyond. That’s excellent when it works but my experience so far on longer journeys has been less positive.
At the office I have a seven hour window to find the time to charge the car so unless I forget there is very rarely an issue. Going further afield has not been quite as simple. In July we went to Durham for a long weekend and took the car. Driving down was relatively simple – charging at natural rest stops and getting a coffee or some lunch. The problem came as you start to head South past Newcastle. On my route I encountered one slow charge facility in about a 2 hour journey radius whilst I was away for the weekend. That meant that I had no method of charging and had to rely on the petrol engine until I returned North.
A very quick count on the ‘Charge Your Car’ website shows that Scotland has a network of approximately 750 charging Points whilst England has around 1,200. It looks positive for Scotland but given the population of England that looks like a logistical challenge at this point.
Another charging challenge that I’ve encountered has been the ability for the charging point to charge the car. On our way back from Durham we stopped in Alnwick to visit the castle, the one from the Harry Potter films.
Our charging experience wasn’t magical though. Despite having the location through the mobile ‘Charge Your Car’ website it was quite difficult to identify the exact car park that the charging point was in. When we found it, another car has just taken the first space so I felt lucky to get the second. It started to go wrong from that point onward.
I scanned the card to allow me access the charge and connected to the car but I got a message saying charging would start when power was available. I knew the system was working as the other car was charging. We left the car and went to explore coming back around 4 hours later only to find that the car hadn’t charged and we had 1 mile of electricity available.
This has happened a few other times when I’ve been out and about and it can be a little frustrating. It would be interesting to find if other fully electric users experience the same issues.
Technology can help with this though. I know that Volswagen provide an app that can show me the status of my car with information such as its battery %, location, whether it is locked etc. I can also choose to turn the air conditioning on in advance of arriving at the car – or more likely the heating in Scotland.
It’s my fault that I’ve not yet downloaded the app and if I did I could rectify the charging issues that have occurred so far. Writing this is a good reminder to do so. I’m aware that other manufacturers offer similar technology so a smart phone will keep you connected with your car and its power status.
Despite the challenges that I’ve faced charging the car on occasion, I have to say that the majority of charges have been simple, effective and with the exemption of one charge in England, free. My journeys back and forward to work are within the battery range and only on longer trips is the petrol engine required.
By charging, I’m not only saving on fuel but also producing zero emissions. A serious win in the effort to address Climate Change.