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Living with the Renault ZOE EV #3

Learning the foibles of our Public Charging Infrastructure

Screenshot_Video3_ZOE_Alloam_c

In this video I am comparing charging at a “Rapid” 43kW AC / 50kW DC charger and at a “Fast” 22kW AC charger. For the details of the 43kW charging see my previous post ‘ZOE Charging Curve (APT Rapid)‘. The long and short of it is that the 22kW charger is providing a faster charging rate than the charger that is rated at almost twice the capacity: 20.9kW vs 17.8kW.

Comparison of 43kW and 22kW APT Charge Points – State of Charge (Image: alloam)
Comparison of 43kW and 22kW APT Charge Points – State of Charge (Image: alloam)

These chargers are both made by APT, both on the Charge Your Car network, but one is not living up to its “Rapid” name. I have found that all the “Rapid” 43kW chargers I have used on the Charge Your Car network are providing about this same charge rate. Something is very wrong. As an owner of a car that can take advantage of the full 43kW supply that should be available, this is very frustrating.

Comparison of 43kW and 22kW APT Charge Points – kWh Provided (Image: alloam)
Comparison of 43kW and 22kW APT Charge Points – kWh Provided (Image: alloam)

Other than these public infrastructure gremlins, life with the ZOE remains a lot of fun. And for 90% of our motoring these are not issues, but for those occasional longer drives, then the Rapid chargers really need to live up to their name.

ZOE Charging Curve (APT Rapid)

Figure 1: ZOE APT ‘43kW’ Charge Curve (Image: alloam)
Figure 1: ZOE APT ‘43kW’ Charge Curve (Image: alloam)

I finally had a couple of hours spare this afternoon and after running ZOE down to a range of 4 miles (9% state of charge, SOC) I plugged into a local APT rapid charger that is rated at 43kW. This is one of the chargers that I have real question marks over, on the CYC network, in this case the Gallowgate rapid charger in Aberdeen. The charts of SOC and time remaining (Figures 1 and 2 respectively) can be compared directly with the equivalent ones from the 7kW charging curve and tell their own story.

Figure 2: Charge Completion Prediction (Image: alloam)
Figure 2: Charge Completion Prediction (Image: alloam)

What is interesting is that the charge rate is nice and linear up to around 90% at a rate of a little less than 18kW (see Figure 3) despite the charger being rated at 43kW. This is exactly in line with my previous experiences of these chargers (and far slower than the Ecotricity chargers, though I am not near one of those to do the same exercise). When I first called CYC to ask what is going on I was told that my car was probably at fault. The car has been checked by the dealer and is working fine.

Figure 3: Charge Rate (Image: alloam)
Figure 3: Charge Rate (Image: alloam)

I will try and do the same exercise at one of the 22kW rated chargers in Aberdeen (also APT). It would be rather amusing if it was faster! I have no doubt that the Chargemaster 22kW charger I have used a couple of times at a Renault dealership is faster.

Living with the Renault ZOE EV #2

Screenshot_Video2_ZOE_Alloam

Here is the second of my video blogs on ZOE life (part 1 is here). Two weeks after taking delivery of our new Renault ZOE electric car, which is proving a joy around town for all our daily short journeys, it had a big test as it was Burns’ Supper season. Last weekend I drove from Aberdeen to the Glasgow area and back, a total distance of 348 miles, all using public charging.

The executive summary is that the journey was easily enough done, and far, far cheaper than my previous car, but it took at least twice the time, perhaps nearer three times the time. My total driving time was around 9 hours over the weekend, but the amount of time spent “travelling” was considerably longer.

ZOE and I used a variety of chargers, recharging some seven times (not including my charges before I left and on return), using CYC, Ecotricity, Chargemaster and a Renault dealer charger. I found huge variety in charging rate, raising lots of questions about how the charger works, what the battery chemistry is doing, what limits the chargers impose and what the car imposes on the rates.

I used two CYC rapid chargers, and found that the charge rate was far below expectations, around 18kW/h maximum as I have mentioned elsewhere. The Chargemaster 22kW charger at the Renault dealer was noticeably faster, clearly running at its capacity rate. Fastest of all was the Ecotricity charger which must have been offering 43kW or thereabouts (giving a 3% to 100% recharge in an hour).

But I also noticed oddities. At the very same Ecotricity charger the following day I recharged from around 50% to 100% and it took about one hour twenty minutes. Make sense of that one.

I am also concerned about what CYC are doing as it seems as though their rapid chargers are very constrained, and I wonder if this is indeed because of compatibility issues that others have reported. When you are relying on the CYC rapid chargers, the difference between 18kW/h and 43kW/h charging makes a huge difference to time expended on the journey. I think if every charger I had stopped at had provided full rapid AC rates then I could have saved two hours of travelling time. That would be really nice.

The car is going back to the dealer next week to have them check the charging in case there does seem to be a glitch with the car. They are also going to fix the R-Link mapping issue I am having, and they will fit the DAB radio add-on.

Living with the Renault ZOE EV #1

I have the pleasure to introduce the first of a series of ZOE video diaries by Alloam, a new contributor.

ZOE Charging in Aberdeen (Image: alloam)
ZOE Charging in Aberdeen (Image: Alloam/YouTube)

Five days after picking up our new, and first, electric car – a Renault ZOE – I undertake our first longish journey. It’s from Aberdeen to Dundee, Scotland, and back using a Rapid Charger for the first time. This was an experiment for me, trying to get a handle on the usable range on a rather cold day, in order to understand how easy it will be to drive up and down to Glasgow to see family and friends.

The distance between the two is around 67 miles. I got there with 14 miles still on the ‘range-o-meter’. Temperatures were no higher than 3ºC, and mostly around 1ºC on the way down. On the way back I drove faster and arrived back in Aberdeen with 9 miles remaining. Due to the weather, lights and wipers were used for most of the journey.

This is my video diary of the journey, primarily aimed at folks who may be interested in EV ownership. I confess I loved watching other people’s videos of living with an EV while awaiting the arrival of ours.

Part 2.