The Pain of Public Charging 3

Dead charge point at Weston-on-the-Green (Image: T. Larkum)
Dead charge point at Weston-on-the-Green (Image: T. Larkum)

I have written a number of times recently of the issues I’ve encountered when trying to use public charging points (e.g. Excellent Adventure, Bogus Journey, ZOE Promises 100, Pain of Public Charging 2) but the pain continues. Last Sunday I took the family for the first time in the ZOE to visit the in-laws. They live in Kidlington near Oxford and the distance is about 45 miles each way.

Even though the ZOE can manage 100+ miles when coaxed, its range is nearer 70 miles at speed and therefore a charge en route was the prudent approach. As usual for a new route I investigated the options available using Open Charge Map and Zap-Map. I came up with Plan A being the Ecotricity 43kW fast charger at Peartree roundabout, with Plan B (in case the Plan A charger was out of action) being the charger at the Nissan dealer in Kidlington, and Plan C being the 7kW charger at Weston-on-the-Green Little Chef just outside Kidlington.

Since the Plan C location was on the way, on the A34, we actually called in there first. We found a charge point looking neglected in the car park and parked up. It didn’t take long to realise it wasn’t powered up. I went into the restaurant to talk to the staff. Although the lady at reception seemed more interesting in offering me a restaurant booking than answering my questions about the charge point, she did tell me that the charge point was due to be removed as the restaurant had undergone a change of management to become the ‘Eat & Go’. Not a very encouraging attitude.

After delivering the family to Kidlington I headed out to Peartree. To cut a long story short, I found the Ecotricity fast charger with no problem near the main services building. It worked fine and recharged the car in about 40 minutes, during which I looked around the services shops and sat and read. In fact I came out of the shops just in time to see a Nissan LEAF pull away from the other side of the charger – I hadn’t noticed it before so I wonder if it had just parked there without charging. We exchanged waves!

Fast charging at Peartree (Image: T. Larkum)
Fast charging at Peartree (Image: T. Larkum)

Towards the end of the charge the ZOE spent about 10 minutes showing 99% charge so eventually I got impatient and disconnected from the charger. That caused an error on the charger and I had to reswipe my access card to reset it, but no harm done.

Now fully charged and feeling more confident I decided to investigate the Plan B charger just out of interest. I found the Nissan garage fine, with its large Chademo charger and two low power chargers. They were all blocked in by LEAFs that were plugged in to charge. By this time on Sunday afternoon the garage was closed so I couldn’t have accessed the chargers; however, I imagine in office hours the staff would have been co-operative.

LEAFs charging at Nissan Kidlington (Image: T. Larkum)
LEAFs charging at Nissan Kidlington (Image: T. Larkum)

I was interested to find a Renault garage with charger opposite the Nissan one. This seemed odd as the Nissan one shows on charge maps but not the Renault one. Perhaps it just indicates that the Renault one is newer.

Renault Kidlington with charger at left (Image: T. Larkum)
Renault Kidlington with charger at left (Image: T. Larkum)

Our experiences of the Weston charger (showing on charge maps but not working) and the Renault charger (working but not showing on charge maps) seem to be typical of the patchy state of the charger infrastructure in the UK at present. We have a remarkably broad and dense network of chargers across the country given the current low uptake of EVs. It compares well with the US, for example, which has far poorer provision of public chargers yet much greater sales of EVs.

However the potential of the UK charger point network is severely blunted by the support it receives – charge points are often not working, and there are many instances of chargers not being shown on public maps, or being shown on public maps but not yet having been actually installed. It’s the usual muddle-through approach – politicians want to be seen to be supporting EVs but they don’t follow-through. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised since politicians never actually seem to drive EVs themselves, a typical case of ‘do as I say not as I do’.

Home Forums The Pain of Public Charging 3

This topic contains 32 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  andyw 6 years ago.

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  • #5579

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    I have written a number of times recently of the issues I’ve encountered when trying to use public charging points (e.g. Excellent Adventure, Bogus Jo[See the full post at: The Pain of Public Charging 3]

    #5582

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    Similar experiences expressed by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield:

    Charging Anxiety

    #5583

    farblue
    Participant

    I’ve so far found the Ecotricity chargers at Hopwood work fine, the NPower one in Solihull was blocked by car park renovations (and looked like it was private use anyway), the one at droitwich Waitrose had been backed into (although it kind of worked it just errored with TILT when the wind blew!) and one of the 2 at Bullring Moor street carpark wouldn’t detect my card (although it appeared otherwise fine and the other charger worked without issue).

    I’m documenting everything on OpenChargeMap (and adding photos) but I sometimes find my submissions are not turning up on the site. I’m also reporting the issues to the people at the phone numbers on the chargers. Overall it appears to me that most of the chargers in the birmingham area are nothing to do with the companies who own the car parks etc. where the chargers are installed and the generally can’t help.

    #5584

    mervync13
    Participant

    Hi Trevor I think we need to build up information in each area of available chargers that can be used by Zoe. It seems there are problems all round the country with the public chargers and perhaps by combining our experience we can build up our own available network then put this on Twitter so other people can see some of the failings regarding the charging network.
    Over the next couple of weeks I will attempt to use all the so called available chargers in my area and report back, not only will this be helpful to me but anyone else who wishes to travel down to my part of the country. For electric
    Vehicles to flourish we need to have a network of chargers that are available in working order and can be used by the relevant make of vehicle with correct information available on Internet.

    #5585

    kentheteaman
    Participant

    It use to be range anxiety and now it is Charge anxiety !
    I guess that is progress in EV world.

    There will come a day when more and more EVs buzzing around and all the chargers working well. Its only matter of time.

    We will get there soon.

    #5596

    timbo
    Participant

    @mervync13 I think this is a good idea. I have lots of stories that I could tell of those charge points in the NE of England that do and don’t work. I’m on first name terms with the guy from Chargeyourcar.org.uk as I report faulty charge points around the Teesside and Newcastle area. At least we’re well supplied with them, so I can usually get a charge somewhere….

    #5600

    farblue
    Participant

    Please everyone also do your best to update OpenChargeMap 🙂 You need a twitter login to edit data but that doesn’t mean you need to use twitter, just sign up 🙂

    There are lots of efforts to install charge points but I think OpenChargeMap is the best hope we have of an up-to-date, freely available database of chargers. I suspect it will also be possible to write an R-Link app for OpenChargeMap or generate a TomTom POI dataset from it.

    #5613

    dbdb
    Participant

    Only had the car a few days and have found that ICE cars are parking in spaces for EV’s (ASDA, etc).

    Was in London on Saturday (by train), used OpenChargeMap and it showed a few charge points so I went to have a look on foot. One site in Berkeley Square had 3 charge points but all not working (EDF had a noticed on them saying not working but don’t know when they will be operational) and another charge point I could not find it in the street anywhere!! Think perhaps the GPS coordinate was not that accurate when the person uploaded the details.

    #5616

    mervync13
    Participant

    I have now been to my 4th public charging point only to be disappointed again. This last charger was a Source East which accepted my card but when I plugged in all I got on the dashboard was ‘Charging Checks’ this lasted for at least 5 mins then I got fed up, tried again for 5 mins then gave up. I will try one further public charger and if I have no success will have to get my charging lead tested as this should not be happening.

    How many others are having these issues with public charging?

    #5628

    Trevor Larkum
    Keymaster

    I agree with the sentiments expressed here. I’m keen to get more involved in updating charge maps – and always take photos so I can later upload them. I’ll return to this issue soon.

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