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Charge anxiety

19 October 2021

Charge anxiety

With summer well behind us and after the lifting of lockdown restrictions, I thought it was time to touch base again with Genquip Groundhog’s Peter Beach to continue the blog’s unscientific but real-life study into how he, as a high-mileage user, is getting on with his electric car. 

And *spoiler alert* he’s seriously thinking about handing it back and switching to a hybrid model.  

It’s not that Peter dislikes his Jaguar iPace – far from it. It’s quiet and goes from 0-60mph in about the time it took you to read this sentence. His frustration is that the charging infrastructure is still not as extensive or reliable enough for drivers like himself typically travelling 40,000 miles a year. 

In fact, while much is said about people being reluctant to switch to electric cars because of ‘range anxiety’, I think ‘charge anxiety’ is a more accurate description. 

As Peter was talking to me hands-free on his way to the Groundhog factory in Neath from his home in Sheffield, his car's odometer clocked 15,000 miles since taking ownership of the vehicle as reported on the blog in March.

“Now that furlough has ended and more people are going back to their offices, the roads are even more congested. And that means major queues for charge points at service stations. There still aren’t enough available. They often either aren’t working or they aren’t of the rapid charge type. Why can’t they standardise on fast chargers?”  

Tesla vehicle owners have a distinct advantage, from what I hear. They enjoy a dedicated national network of fast chargers, there are usually more of them at each location and they can also use other brands of charge points if needed. Tesla batteries also typically give a larger range. Less anxiety all round. 

“I can see why an electric vehicle is ideal for people who just commute short distances,” said Peter. “But it’s challenging for high-mileage users.” 

The Government says that one in seven cars sold this year has been an electric model. Figures also state that there are now around 25,000 public charging devices across the UK, although they are clearly not all of the fast charging variety. And it's been estimated that ten times that figure will eventually be needed. 

Peter, whose job as sales and marketing manager involves seeing customers throughout the country, believes the goal should be to have fast chargers at every filling station forecourt so that, if facilities are occupied or damaged, drivers can go to another site – assuming they have enough charge left, of course. 

I’m also interested to see how his car will perform in the darker, colder conditions ahead after the clocks go back on 31 October. Driving with the windscreen wipers, heating, fog lamps, heated rear window and lighting on will obviously drain the battery faster. 

“It was cold last night in Sheffield and in low temperatures you have to pre-condition the battery to protect it. But that uses some power and I lost about ten miles of range before I’d even driven off,” said Peter.

“I really do want to make this work, but if you are frequently doing long journeys across the country there are just too many variables.” 

Of course, as the saying goes, your mileage may vary. Anyway, I’ll have another update on Peter’s battery car journey soon – if he still has the vehicle, that is… 

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