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Using EVs for long journeys​

I often hear people say that they would only be able to consider an electric car for local journeys, or that they’re just not suitable for making longer trips due to having to stop to charge en route.

Now I’ve been driving electric vehicles for a few years, pretty much exclusively. I wouldn’t go back to a petrol or diesel car if you paid me (although please get in touch if you want to make me a serious offer….). So when I was booked on a course to learn about the new Hyundai Kona EV down in High Wycombe (over 200 miles from where I live and work), it made perfect sense for me to take my current EV – the Hyundai Ioniq Electric.

The Ioniq has been on sale in the UK for a couple of years, and despite having a 27kWh battery (which is smaller in capacity than many competitors), the clever aerodynamic design combined with efficient motors mean that it’s capable of over 100 miles to a charge, even at motorway speeds in Winter.

So I set off on Wednesday afternoon from our Burnley branch, having charged to 100% before departure. The weather was horrible – Storm Diana was making her way across the UK, and the motorways were covered in standing water, with lots of spray and buffeting winds to contend with. But I set the cruise control to 70mph, and with the Smart Cruise Control adjusting the speed to keep a set distance from the car in front, my speed varied from 55 to 70mph most of the way (except for the 50mph average speed sections through roadworks on the M6).

Once my battery was down to 20% or so, I programmed the sat-nav for the nearest Rapid Charger (a Polar Ultracharger at Holiday Inn at Cannock) and arrived with 16% battery remaining, having covered 105 miles since leaving Burnley, in a little over 2 hours. The coffee I’d had before leaving Burnley was another good reason for stopping at this point!

I have a subscription to the Polar network, which costs £7.50 per month, but which gives easy access to the Polar/Chargemaster/CYC networks around the UK. The rapid charge took 37 minutes to get to 95%, and cost just £2.77 (that works out as 2.6p per mile running cost).

So with 114 miles of range showing on the dashboard, and 109 miles to my final destination, I set off again. The weather and the traffic were still against me, as I joined the M40 and continued south.

As it got towards 6pm, I thought it would be a good idea to stop for some food and stretch my legs. Cherwell Valley was the next service area available, so I pulled off the motorway with a hungry tummy and 39% battery remaining (plenty of range to reach High Wycombe, which was only 36 miles further, but I was in need of a comfort break!).

As luck would have it (for me, not so much for Dale Vince), the Ecotricity charger at Cherwell Services had lost communication with its server – so had defaulted to free-vend electricity. I charged up to 89% in the 26 minutes it took me to visit the bathroom and scoff a KFC, and it didn’t cost me a penny for the electricity (being a tight Yorkshireman, this pleased me greatly).

I set off driving again, and arrived at my hotel in High Wycombe with 65% battery left. Total driving distance was 213.7 miles, with 4hrs and 39 minutes of actual driving time. I spent 63 minutes charging (although I didn’t really need to do that last charge to reach my destination, it was just the time taken for me to eat food and visit the services for myself!).

The following morning I drove across town to the Hyundai Training Academy, which usefully has a couple of PodPoint chargers out front in the car park. As I was going to be there for the day, I just plugged in and left it on charge - safe in the knowledge that my car would be up to 100% within 2 hours.

The course was excellent – more on the Kona later – but it ran till 4.45pm, which was not the ideal time to set off from High Wycombe and head to the motorway in high winds and driving rain. Rush hour traffic, roadworks, and a flurry of blue flashing lights meant that it was very slow progress towards the M40.

Once on the Motorway, the spray from trucks and the volume of traffic meant that speeds were below 50mph for all 3 lanes, but this is where the Ioniq shines – the Smart Cruise Control (SCC) using Radar to keep a safe distance from the preceding vehicle, the Lane Follow Assist keeping me centred within the white lines, helping to reduce driver fatigue. I used the SCC and LFA for 90% of my journey home – it’s great and so easy to use.

I stopped at Trowell Services on the M1, near Nottingham, after 119 miles of driving (by now it was 7.30pm, and I was in need of a meal and a break from driving), with 16% battery remaining. I’d averaged 5.1miles/kWh efficiency on the journey, by following the traffic at a safe distance using SCC and keeping my speed around 60-65mph. My heater was set to 22C all the way, and air conditioning was used to keep the windows demisted. This was no eco-run – I was driving in comfort.

I charged up to 94% using the Ecotricity Rapid Charger (sadly for me, this was fully working, so I paid £7.71 for the 41 minute charge), whilst I had a meal inside the services.

From Trowell, the traffic was lighter, the weather improved, and so the 94 miles back to my house was a less laborious journey. I arrived home at 10.15pm, with 32% battery remaining.

So in total, over both days, I drove 426.7 miles, spent £10.48 on rapid charges, and the journey took only 15 minutes or so longer than it would have done if I’d have driven a petrol or diesel car (as I would have been stopping for comfort breaks and food regardless of the fuel).

So even an electric car which has a range of less than 150 miles can still be used very successfully for long journeys… but given that 80% of car journeys in the UK are less than 25 miles a day, and 71% of cars are parked off road either in a garage or on private property, surely more people could make the switch to an electric vehicle immediately?

We have several electric cars in stock at our dealerships – click here (/electric/used-cars/used-electric-cars/ ) for details.

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