Electric Ed’s EV Diary: My first long journey in an MG ZS EV
Electric Ed is our resident EV expert at Nathaniel Cars. He’s here to answer your questions and share advice and tips about electric vehicles (EVs). This is the first entry in Ed’s EV Diary, where he shows you what life is like as an EV driver. This month, he’s sharing his experience of planning his first long journey in an MG ZS EV.
Taking the scenic route in an EV
If there’s one thing that many people are concerned about when it comes to electric cars, also known as electric vehicles or EVs, it’s range anxiety. People worry about how far you can drive in an electric car.
Although EVs are improving when it comes to battery life, in most cases they will need “topping up” more regularly than their Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) equivalents. However, this doesn’t mean that driving long distances is impossible, it just requires some extra planning to make sure that you have access to enough rapid charging units.
So, I decided to prove that it can be done and plan a long journey in a fantastic new MG ZS EV.
After a slight delay because of COVID-19 restrictions, we packed up the car and set off on our journey from South Wales to Southampton. We were looking forward to meeting friends and celebrating a 50th birthday. But we also knew that this would involve a lot of driving and be our first experience of using the public charging network.
Perfect planning prevents poor performance
Planning is key, especially if you’re driving into areas that you’re unfamiliar with. Initially, I did a quick scan of the charging points that would be on the way to our destination, to check that doing such a long journey in an EV would be possible.
The MG ZS EV that we used has a range of 160 miles. However, this will reduce in poor weather, when going uphill and, of course, with a car stuffed full of kit. So, I made a guess that we could probably rely on about 130-140 miles if I drove economically, at no more than 70 mph on motorways and if the weather wasn’t too bad.
The next step was preparations for using chargers en-route. I saved routes on a mobile app called Zap Map where you can select:
- your range
- the state of charge at the start of your journey
- which stops to charge at
The planning doesn’t stop there, though. I made sure I’d downloaded the apps for the different charging networks beforehand, to avoid any delays.
Check, check and check again
On the day of travel there are some important checks to make.
Check your route is still viable and that none of the chargers you intend to stop at have since broken or have issues. You can do this by checking their status on Zap Map or reading the comments left by other users.
Check that you have a spare charging cable in case you need an emergency top up from an untethered charging device.
Check you have the apps you need.
Check the weather and make any adjustments to your predicted range.
Finally, make sure you have a back-up plan in case a charger is in use, or make sure you’ve allowed enough time to wait for one to be free.
When you’re on the road, here are a few more tips on charging an electric car.
On-the-road tips for charging your EV
- Look for chargers just off the motorway – They tend to be used less and there are plenty like this.
- Ensure your charging cable is easy to get to – Just in case you need to use an untethered charging point.
- Think about your stop – If you’re stopping to charge and not eat, think about where you might stop and where others might. Certain services are more popular than others because of the shops and food they offer.
- Avoid busy periods – Certain times of the day will be busier in the services than others. Mealtimes for example. So, try and avoid those times.
- Check the number of chargers and spaces – Sometimes a location states it has four chargers, but in truth, there will only be two spaces to charge, or only one cable from each charger may be used at once.
A supermarket top-up and stock-up
Overall, I was very surprised by how smoothly the whole trip went. I set off on an 80% charge from home and stopped at the local supermarket for a quick top-up and grocery and wine shop.
Many supermarkets have free-to-use chargers and this top-up added about 30 miles to the range and increased the charge to 90%.
Take that “range anxiety”!
On the motorway, the car proved to be relaxing and quiet to drive. I decided that the first-choice charger, which was just off the motorway near Chippenham, would fit the bill nicely.
Once here, the IONITY charger performed faultlessly and quickly, leaving me with an 85% charge after some light refreshments.
Even though I had no reason to worry, with just over 80 miles to my destination, I decided to stop again, only to find a broken charger. The decision was made for me and I carried on regardless, without charging, to Southampton. No more “range anxiety” for me!
You have reached your destination
Of course, this was entirely the right decision to make, and we arrived fresh at our destination and plugged in at a local pub to prepare for the journey home in two days’ time.
This time it was a BP Pulse, and it charged the car to 100% while we had a good catch up.
It’s important to always comply with the EV code of politeness. You should never unnecessarily block a charger that’s not being used. So, remember to unplug your car once it’s charged and move it from the charge point.
We had a great weekend at the 50th birthday celebrations, and then started to think about our return journey.
Time to head home
Thankfully, the return journey started with a full battery. We scheduled a charge stop at the same IONITY charger near Chippenham. We queued for a short time, but this gave us the opportunity to talk to other EV drivers about our cars and charging.
I even met a couple who had pretty much done the same journey as us and owned the same car. However, they’d decided not take it and had hired an ICE car for their journey instead. I must admit, I did feel a little smug knowing that I’d completed the same journey for a lot less money.
The rest of the journey went smoothly, without drama and we arrived home with around 30 miles remaining.
The EV stats from South Wales to Southampton
For the drive from South Wales to Southampton we:
- drove 350 miles in three days
- stopped to charge four times
- only spent £25 on charging
- encountered one broken charger (which we didn’t need to use anyway)
- encountered one queue, where we waited about 10 minutes for a charger to free up
- used rapid DC (CCS) charging at all charging stops, except the free supermarket stop (7kW Type 2)
- most frequently used IONITY charging devices
- only added 20% to the journey time for charging
The verdict on our long journey in an MG ZS EV
Would we do it again? Yes, of course, and we have done.
It was a lot of planning and while using an ICE car might have been slightly easier, the joy of driving a quiet electric car far outweighed this.
Not to mention the fact that we saved a considerable amount on fuel costs. Driving 350 miles for just £25 is amazing!
I would encourage anyone who’s suffering from range anxiety when it comes to electric cars to plan effectively with backups and there won’t be any issues.
Or better yet, pop into Nathaniel Cars and test drive one of our range of electric cars. You can come and check them out in our Cardiff showroom. Or if you come to our showroom in Bridgend, ask for Ed and I’ll be happy to help.