…it needs to be collected from Aberdeen, 530 miles away.
Before this trip I hadn’t attempted a really long journey in an EV. (In case you’re not aware, this car is all-electric, no “engine”, it doesn’t take diesel or petrol). However my experience of the Ioniq was that the car could do it, and I would be the weakest link. Once you’ve exceeded the range of an EV and used public rapid chargers, I figured it was just more of the same.
The Ioniq electric has a range of 124 miles according to the US EPA, many EV drivers find this more accurate than the EU measures. Once you allow for some contingency, I reckon 100 miles at motorway speeds is a suitable “hopping” distance between charges for long trips like this.
So when one came up for sale, in Scotland, I wasn’t worried about the prospect of getting it home to Wiltshire.
I looked at delivery options – the best I found was £450 to trailer it. This just didn’t seem right though, all that diesel pollution!
On the trip I simply took lots of photos, knowing these would be time-stamped and geotagged. I didn’t have the gear or the time to shoot and edit a video.
Total distance: 532 miles
“Fuel” cost: less than £6.50 – free in Scotland and one Electric Highway charger and one Polar were also free
Total charging and driving time: 14:12
Average overall speed: 38mph
Average driving speed: 54mph
Percentage of time spent charging: 26%
The reason for making quite a lot of charging stops was twofold; to see if the reports of unserviceability of Electric Highway chargers was true, (since people don’t tend to report good news stories!); and to keep topped up- in what was, to me, a new car, just in case of any unknown issues.
Extra stops incur a slight penalty because it takes time to find the charger, start a charge, and get going again.
2019: What we now know is that CCS charging on the Electric Highway was about to get a fix for a known issue. Not that it worked for the Ioniq in my experience…
I used Plugshare as it’s my current favourite route planner, on a desktop PC. There’s multiple factors to account for (range isn’t a fixed thing and not all chargers offer a plug to fit your car for example) – Plugshare does most of the work for you. I ended up with a (paper) list of postcodes of chargers at quite frequent intervals, to account for changes on the day. The Ioniq takes a “CCS” plug to rapid charge. While this is an EU standard, the Nissan Chademo connector is slightly more common. Most chargers have at least one CCS on offer, and often all 3 standards. However, older charge points at motorway services don’t all offer CCS.
Using National Express and FlyBe I got to Aberdeen easily for less than £100. (I know, diesel coach and a plane – but it was a very efficient turboprop!) We flew over Nissan Sunderland, which was rather poignant having just sold my Leaf that was built there.
I picked up the car, topped up at 94% on a rapid. Beautiful sunny day and a slight northerly wind, so ideal conditions. 12:30 and 94% charge.
The car virtually drove itself along to Dundee, thanks to the Lane Control and Radar Cruise. I kept at the speed limit (60 or 70mph). Truly- a beautiful coast road in lovely weather.
14:03 and 35% charge
First stop was Dundee at a ChargePlace Scotland charger hub, 4 rapids and 8 fast chargers in one place! I could have got a bit further, but wanted to visit a “hub” and needed refreshments. I parked at a rapid charge point straight away, used the CYC app to start a charge – they’re free in Scotland; picked up a sandwich at a local bakery and very quickly the car was back at 94% charge. When I left, there was a small queue for the rapids, some taxis, and all driving Nissan Leafs. One guy accused me of driving a hybrid as he hadn’t seen an electric ioniq before. The cheek of it.
Dundee Lochee charge hub. It gets a 10 from…me.
16:05, ~30% charge
Next I met a friend at Hamilton Loch near Glasgow. The satnav was perfect, negotiating some interesting junctions around Edinburgh. It was raining heavily as I arrived but it quickly passed which was fortunate as we had some issues getting a charge started on one of the two rapids there. It took two phone calls to CYC support. Usually these chargers are started with a CPS card, just £20 a year. I used a CYC app and that may have caused some issue. Not a great advert for EVs, as far as my electrical engineer friend was concerned! We did chat for a while so this was a long stop.
Next stop was scheduled to be Abington or Moffatt, to get full before the M6 “desert” – I say that because the reports on Plugshare for M6 Electric Highway chargers on CCS were not encouraging, to say the least. BMW i3 owners, as probably the largest contingent of CCS plug users, reported problems with Electric Highway charge points. I decided to stop at both – in case the first was down, this would give me the best chance of hitting the M6 with a high state of charge. It also provides more Plugshare reports for CCS users.
Both these chargers are in lovely spots and worked fine on the CYC app. I seem to remember I had to press the “start Chademo” button though, not “start CCS”. Odd.
The Abington charger is an old-style one and the leads were all over the floor in the dirt. Not surprising- as there’s not any decent receptacles for them. This is a real issue with most rapid chargers, the plugs are prone to getting dirty, damaged and wet. It takes care from users, and a bit of luck, to keep them in good condition.
I added 30% at Abington, and another 30% at Moffat- so I made the most of the free Scottish power from the hundreds of wind turbines I passed.
The first M6 EH charger I tried was Todhills, North of Carlisle. The charger was away from the main entrance, which I usually find a good idea to avoid ICEing, but under a broken streetlight- and by this time it was dark. Not a pleasant location really. Fumbling with an app, finding the 3 digits from your payment card etc is awkward at best, but in the dark…! The Costa café had just shut so I got a quick coffee from BP (harrumph) and saw to my horror that the charger had managed just 4 minutes before it cut out. Delivering a mere 2.3 kWh. This picture features the streetlight in a rare “working” mode.
At this point I had a choice. I wanted to get to the Polar at Preston. At 20:30 I had 72%, 98 miles range showing on the dash, 83 miles to get to Preston Polar. I cruised at 62mph, taking it gently using lorries for cover where I could, on radar cruise. Not ideal, and I had some big hills to climb! One alternative was to divert into Kendal- or stay on the M6 to the next EH charger that got a half- decent write up on Plugshare, at Killington, which I decided to do. Plan B would be to drive even more gently to Preston, because Preston may not work, and I would need some juice to get to… some other charger.
At 20:50 I noted: 280m done, 59% charge, 77m range, with a Polar at 64m.
Hills (it’s a 1200ft climb) were taking their toll. I slowed to 56mph. To get to Polar I would have to drive very gently (like a Leaf!)- I was even thinking of getting a 7kW AC slow charge from an AC charger, and taking a nap.
21:15 45% charge
So I tried my luck at EH Killington. Plugged in, again in the gloom under broken streetlights. The charger showed 381V * 84A=32kW, the usual rate (and half what the Ioniq can accept!) I grabbed a chicken McDonalds, bag of fruit and another coke. Checked the car again – it’s still working! Too cold to stay outside so I dived back into the services to eat. Came out just in time to see it fail! Failed at 90%, 29min, 15.6kWh. You can see just how well illuminated the set-up is here, it really makes you feel well-rewarded to have gone full-EV. I’m joking of course, I felt like a third class citizen, even a pariah. It was like a scene from Father Ted – “Away with your EVs to the corner of the car park and go and sit in the dark and just think about what you’ve bought! Mind you don’t trip on all those cables now!”
Anyway, with some juice, albeit not a completely full charge, I could press on.
22:00 306m. Near Carnforth. Driving at speed limit, 100 miles range with 34 miles to do.
22:31 Preston Holiday Inn Express. I must have been a bit tired at this point as I managed to convince myself I was at Cannock. No such luck. Preston Holiday Inn, just off the M6, has a Polar Ultracharger which worked perfectly. 9,8kWh in 14 mins, 42kW. The advantage of Polar is the charging speed – which should be a full 50kW- and reliability. I’ve recently taken out a Polar Plus, subscription so started a charge using my RFID card without a hitch. At this point I noticed the battery cooling fan had started, a really quiet hum. It takes air from an intake under the back seat, through the pack and out into the right hand rear arch.
The night roadworks were now in full effect, so I left the M6 for a short while as there were reports of a road closure. Back on the M6, the next charger was Polar at Cannock. Plan A was to take a full charge and maybe make it home without any more stops. This charge point was a few miles off the motorway, so imagine my delight when I couldn’t get it to work. Despite 2 phone calls to Polar support and a reset and a reboot, the screen was unresponsive, at the charge type selection screen. I wondered if the charger couldn’t just detect what plug was connected to my car! At 12% battery left I had trusted in Polar a little too much perhaps. If I had slowed down sooner, in case of issues, it might have given me more options. The other issue was that the M5 was closed between J1 and 2, so I re-routed East, along the M6 toll. I drove across to the M6 toll services at about 45-50mph to the EH charger at Norton Canes, my “Plan B”. There was no “Plan C” really. By this time it was about 2 degrees C! Definitely a low point, at 1am.
Norton Canes, 01:04 to 01:50 charging at 31.5kW, 13%
The EH charger was a real nuisance – but it did eventually get me to 80%. After 6 restarts! The charger kept cutting out, complaining of a reset. At least it was on “free-vend”. The slow, 32kW rate added insult to injury to be honest. As it happens, this was my biggest single charge, taking me from 10 to 80%. It took from 01.01 to 01:50. It is a crap state of affairs. EH have a monopoly on motorway charging, and I dread to think what new Jaguar and VW customers will make of it as the new models emerge. I thought of sunny Dundee, with its 4 triple-head rapids, what a stark contrast! (I’m sure it’s not always sunny in Dundee by the way).
Note: Electric Highway have since announced that they have identified this CCS charging bug, and will be rolling out a fix (27/9/18).
I had plenty of time to browse for another charger for the final hop. I could get home now– with maybe 15 miles margin – but that’s a bit too small. Using ZapMap I spotted a new Polar Ultracharger at Warwick, along the M40, so headed for that, at a gentle 65mph just in case that didn’t work.
Polar Warwick worked! I got a 30% top-up to 80% charge, 9.1kWh in 17 minutes (so that’s a rather slow rate too actually Polar!) The battery cooling fan seemed to step up a notch. Hardly surprising considering how many kWh I had put through it. I’m planning to get an app to keep track of battery temperatures and the like.
I then took the A429 down some familiar roads to home. The Lane-Keep worked well, even on the single carriageway road in the pitch black. The LED low-beam lights on the Ioniq are pretty amazing.
Total 530 miles, 129kWh, 4.5 miles/kWh, 10:55 driving time
(not to scale)
However- the car had already done 60 miles when I collected it, meaning it had covered 583 miles in a 24 hour period- all rapid charging at the best rates I could get, 31 to 42kW.
Long distance in the Ioniq is very easy, with Radar Cruise control and Active Lane Keep Assist. Effectively, the car drives for you.
Don’t assume your favourite charger will work.
Don’t assume your least favourite charger won’t work.
Total cost was less than £7.50 in electricity.
Relatively short hops, keeping the battery topped up, work well and mean you can avoid largely avoid both range and charger anxiety (while keeping within bladder range). I didn’t need to stop quite as frequently as I did, however.
The Ioniq can manage 580 miles in a day, rapid charging all the way, with no issues. This isn’t a given – plenty of electric cars have no thermal management (all Nissan Leafs and most VWs to date I believe). This means that batteries can overheat with this type of use, leading to very slow charging rates or even a limp mode.