My First Experience With A Fully Electric Car
This time last week I was facing a little dilemma. We needed to drive roughly 70 miles to go and see some family; however my car is off the road, train tickets were expensive & I couldn’t find affordable temporary insurance to use someone else’s car - so the next best thing was to hire one!
But that didn’t work out either. I’m 19, have only been driving for just over a year, and have 3 points. You get the idea.
That is, until I found E-Car; an affordable electric car hire company here in the UK. All their cars are fully electric, and they accepted me as a member effortlessly even after taking my points and age into consideration.
Fast forward a couple days and I’m standing next to a 2016 Renault Zoe, on the phone to E-Car who magically unlock the car in front of me, I jump in, they say “Have a great journey”, and it’s go time. A Zoe all to myself for 24 hours.
My initial impressions were quite surprising; except for the quite responsive regenerating brakes and the lack of sound it’s like driving anything else. The Zoe I was driving has a max distance of 70 miles on a full battery, and although the ‘tank’ read 40 when I got in, I managed to drive 14 miles home while only losing 8 on the reading. The interior is pleasant, nothing super special, and the radio, nav and speaker set up is surprisingly good.
Unfortunately there are some bad parts, which include a normally 1.30 hour drive turning into a 4 hour drive due to having to wait 2 hours to charge because of the lack of fast chargers, let alone chargers that were even accessible to me.
The problem with hiring an electric car is that most charging stations require a monthly subscription and/or a pay-as-you-go membership card. I will admit I don’t follow EV news avidly, but I was baffled that there is no system for contactless-ly (if that’s a word) accessible charging stations. It took us a good 45 minutes to find a free dock on google and to get to it.
Luckily we bumped into some friends and passed the time fairly quickly over lunch, but if that wasn’t the case I don’t think my passengers would’ve been prepared to wait 2 hours in the car.
After getting to our destination fashionably late, we done the exact same drive in reverse order. Drive, charge, drive, charge, etc. E-Car themselves recommend a 70 mile distance within a day, where as we pushed the system to the limits and almost tripled that figure. I dropped everyone home at about 11pm but since I wanted to charge the car overnight I didn’t get home myself until 3am (bear in mind I had to drop the car back at 10am), again because of the lack of chargers around, and also because when I did find one it didn’t work and I was on the phone for hours to a very patient and knowledgeable customer service man.
In the morning I woke up understandably late, so using E-Car’s very easy app I was able to extend the hire a couple hours for a small fee. I dropped the car back, the magic man on the phone locked it for me, and I went home a changed man. It’s not that I don’t like electric cars, I just don’t get them yet. Forget Tesla as they’re not exactly affordable to the masses, but the Zoe and other cars on E-Car’s fleet are no use for anyone outside of a major city.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept, my family and I had a blast getting used to Zoe (or Margaret as my sister named her), and would happily have one sit on our driveway, but not just yet.
The picture above is of the new generation Zoe ZE 40, something that I’m very interested in; She boasts a 248-mile range which is very impressive when you realise that’s only 17 miles less than Tesla, yet doesn’t add any weight to the standard Zoe that I was driving.
In conclusion, I guess I just haven’t caught the bug with driving the future like I have with my petrol guzzling Golf. Unless you’re buying the best one out there, I find it hard to believe you could use the majority of EV cars to travel more than a few hours without having to commit a whole lot of time to charging, which isn’t in anyones interest. E-Car on the other hand is a genuinely brilliant service with the nicest customer service I have ever encountered; I just haven’t fallen in love with the cars.
P.S. The Zoe is also no good to do-good’ers as I found out you can’t jump start another car without risking damaging her. Sorry!
Pictures from Google