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We chose the Hyundai Ioniq electric as a family car suitable for long trips, and to replace our old Citroen diesel. My other posts explain in more technical detail what makes the Ioniq electric a desirable car. Here I’ll log our experience with rapid charging- hopefully this gives you an idea of how a pure EV, with quite a modest battery, can cope with long trips.

January 2019 at around zero degrees C, 104 miles

A day trip, starting with less than a full charge. Now that we have a rapid charger very close to home, we have less need to keep our EVs near full charge. So when I set off for a day trip to Bristol it was no hardship to start with a rapid charge to 92%. Why not 100%? Well, the rate of charge has to drop near a full charge, to avoid some cells being overcharged. In this instance, at 77% charged, the rate dropped from 48kW to 22kW.

We used a range of roads, from A roads to motorways and some city driving. Overall the efficiency was 4.7 miles/kWh, which is pleasing considering the low temperatures. We finished at 13%, with about 18 miles range, so overall used 79% capacity.

February 2018 – Swindon to Saltash, 168 miles 

It quickly becomes clear when planning a trip like this that there’s not always a charger exactly where you want it. You have to weigh up the chances of a charger being available, working and have a backup plan. At present there isn’t even a “CCS” charger at every motorway services – because these chargers were intended for Nissan Leafs and Renault Zoes. There’s at most one CCS point. This means that there is a significant stretch of motorway with no CCS provision. Off the motorway newer chargers are being installed, and at quite a rate now. For example Tiverton, about 7 miles off the M5, has a 2 new Instavolt chargers with Chademo (which fits the Leaf) and CCS. (No such luck for Zoe owners who need AC charging, but they do have more options on the motorway.) On this trip we wanted to try as many options as possible for the experience, so we topped up more often than strictly necessary. Now that most chargers have a pay-as-you-go model it makes sense to keep topped up, just in case of diversions etc.

Ecotricity Gordano: 50 miles. Arrived at 58% charge. 25 mins of charging to 92%

Ecotricity Exeter: 70 miles. 33 mins of charging to 91%. Another elderly slow rapid! We saw a maximum of 35kW. A handy meter at the back of these chargers shows the charging rate:

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We then topped up at a charger close to where we were staying, to give us charge for the next couple of days.

Lidl/Podpoint Plympton: 40 miles. 22 mins from 58% to 94%. Charging peaked at 49kW, averaging 37kW even though the charge tapered at high state of charge. This charger is an ABB triple-header and works very nicely.

Return trip

Lidl/Podpoint Plympton: 8 miles, topped up (because it’s free), from 54% to 90% in 19 minutes.

Instavolt Tiverton: 62 miles. Arrived at 45%. We wanted to try this charger out of curiosity, despite being a few miles off the M5 it promises two CCS points and a change from motorway services. Instavolt have a 24/7 phone support line, which was useful because we couldn’t get a charge to start using contactless payment. A quick phone call started the charger for us- fantastic to have support on a Sunday afternoon. Charging speed was high, the unit reported 47kW.

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This was the first time I have heard the battery cooling fan running. 20 minutes later we had 94% and in fact were still waiting for our lunch! The charger is at a leisure centre with an independent cafe, so you could have a quick coffee or even a swim while your car charges 🙂

Swindon: 112 miles

The homebound leg was the longest single trip we have done yet, 112 miles and we got home with 18 miles remaining. Efficiency was 4.6 miles/kWh. We had a slight tailwind. Generally we cruised at 65mph, faster down the hills with the regen set at zero, but were slowed down a bit by heavy traffic near home.

That’s 130 miles motorway range in February, from a 28kWh car. I’ll resist the urge to compare that to any recently launched EVs with much larger batteries.

In summary, we did 180 miles with only 39 minutes of charging, and remember we started on a half-charged car. If we had the luxury of a charger where we were staying, to start the journey at 100%, then we could have charged at Tiverton for only 20 minutes. This is quite a contrast to the journey down, the older Ecotricity chargers only manage 35kW which makes a big difference to the total time spent charging.

The best is yet to come however, as the Ioniq can charge faster than any of the chargers yet installed in the UK.

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