Car: VW eGolf
Potential range: 160 miles (winter range: 120 miles)
Journey: Home, Alton Towers, Premier Inn, Alton Towers, Home: 450 mile round trip
Zap map plan – 6 rapid chargers on route, plus 2/3 more nearer theme park / hotel in case needed.
It was time to test the car on another long journey! The longest so far was to London and back, not in a straight line, maybe 350 miles total. A more ambitious one is 2 days at Alton Towers! Travelling down the first morning, afternoon at the park with 2 day ticket. Stay over in local premier inn. 2nd day at the park and return home in the evening.
I checked zap map and there should be enough for the journey. The only tricky bits are the A14 (no chargers or services for a very long stretch) and Norfolk itself where we live.
7:30am and we were ready to leave. The temperature was cool to begin with and got hot later on. Near perfect for battery!
The journey down: alternating chargers (as 2 chargers only accessible in this direction, and they are often on free vend). We stopped at Ecotricity on the A11/A14 (topped up from 60% to 90% free vend) then all along the A14 and on to the M1 and had a 1 mile diversion into Lutterworth.
There is a Geniepoint at Morrisons (similar top up 55% to 90%). The cost was about £5 – although there is a setting to auto topup so I payed an extra £10. I have now changed that setting! Onwards and all the way up the M1 and on to the A50. Ecotricity Derby south small services and hotel (similar top up 60% to 90%, free vend!). Maybe we should have stayed at this hotel overnight, but it was still an hour from the theme park. I had enough charge to get to where we were later staying in Stafford.
After some roller coasters we drove to the premier in. A variety of charging plans I was hoping for the first option. Park next to our bedroom window and run the three pin plug to the car. We were on the first floor, but with extension lead there was plenty of room and this worked a treat! Charge overnight and we were at over 95% in the morning when leaving.
More roller coasters. All day in fact! We left Alton Towers at 7:45pm.
Return journey: I aimed for Ecotricity Derby South (free vend again) but would have to double back on myself so kept going a few miles to the next Ecotricity charger on the M1. Oh no! New road layout!
We missed the turn (about a mile before satnav said) and would need to double back so kept going back to Geniepoint (not part of the plan but it was the backup). Genie point 30 mins to 90% charge from 35% – another £5. Then on to the A14 which doesn’t have any chargers (although a lot of the road is new and fast).
The satnav went haywire after Huntingdon due to the new roads. I was aiming for a hotel rapid charger west of Cambridge. Oh no! New road layout!
We missed the turn completely (it wasn’t there any more) and I didn’t want to double back. Checking the mileage we could just make Thetford or go for Ecotricity A11. Checking the map it was the only one to go for, but involves 15 miles extra on the double back (why oh why can’t they add a charger going Northbound too!).
Got here fine and a nice van driver unplugged and moved out of our way. 25% up to 60% (we wanted to get home – gauged 60% would do it and free vend). On the route back it looked like a top up needed so I aimed for Thetford, only a mile out of our way to the charger.
Until now, it has been one of the best chargers on our route. Estimated I would have 1 mile left by home if did not charge but, guess what – both charge points declined both of my cards (including bank card which had plenty of money on it) and the 24 hour help line was closed!! (irritated email to them the day after which they have been following up).
So onwards home, slowly. Several rapids are near home if I needed and as we got closer I decided that would be a good option. Diverted (only off main road on to parallel country road) towards 1 but with my reduced speed the car suggested I had 6 spare miles instead of 1 as I adjusted the satnav cross country home.
So, skip the charge and to home! I have managed a few times to get home with about 6 miles left of charge. This one ended up being the same! It took 10 minutes longer but home safe and sound. Last part of the journey didn’t do the usual warnings – 16 mile warning replaced with ‘your battery is nearly dead’ warning and I got the tortoise light for the first time ever! Unsure why as I have run it this low before. All seemed fine though and plugged in for the night perfectly.
Tips for future:
Charge 10%-20% more than needed
Do not assume the last charger will work on your journey!
Overall a massive success. Times for the journeys (which were broadly exactly the same and distance 225 miles).
Outward to Alton Towers: 4 hours 45 minutes (which included 40 minutes of stopping and charging).
Return from Alton Towers: 5 hours 30 minutes (which included 60 minutes of stopping and charging and an extra double back of about 15 miles added to journey). Factoring in the slower return near the end of the journey this seems right.
In an ICE it would be 3 hours 45 minutes (plus loo breaks and stops).
Total cost for my electric: £10 plus home charge in advance.
ICE fuel cost: £45 for fuel?
Totally worth it!