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A journey to England in April 2022

Glasgow to Oxfordshire by the M74, M6 and M40

We left Glasgow in our Renault Zoe with the temperature at 6 degrees and a 100% charge, which was predicted to give 197 miles of range, considerably less than the WLTP range which applies only in the summer. It was a late spring with colder than average temperatures, and this affected the range somewhat.

Arriving at Gretna, all the chargers at the services (2 Gridserve and 4 Ionity) were all in use, as was the BP Pulse charger at Smith's Hotel. Fortunately, the BP Pulse charger at the Blacksmith's Shop was available. This gave us enough charge for 200 miles.

After getting down to a range of 99 miles, we tried Instavolt at Booths in Garstang, where there are four rapid chargers. Unusually for Instavolt, one of the chargers would not accept my contactless card, but it worked with the Instavolt app, so all was well. I reported the fault to Instavolt who said they would fix it.

Having been diverted around Manchester by an accident on the M6, we stopped at Knutsford for 14 minutes, while we put on an extra 21 miles, leaving us with 167 miles of range and an 82% charge.

Warwick Services on the M40 was next, where we boosted from 56 to 155 miles of range, going from 27% to 80% in 43 minutes, enough to get us to Oxfordshire with 96 miles to spare.

This journey took longer than in a fossil fuel car as we expected - four charges in a 400 mile drive might seem excessive for a car with a range of over 200 miles, but the stops were mostly fairly short and we needed them anyway. To have bought a car with a greater range and faster charging would have cost an extra £10,000, and the Zoe is certainly still one of the best value for money electric cars, even after over 2 years of the rapid charging version.

The return journey to Glasgow was via Nottinghamshire.

The PodPoint charger at Lidl in Wallingford was reported as broken on Zap-Map, so a special journey to the charger at Waitrose in Abingdon was made the night before we set off.

Leaving with 192 miles of range, we stooped at the only charger at M1 Watford Gap, which (amazingly) was available, and topped up the range from 124 to 200 miles, arriving in Nottinghamshire with 148 miles to spare.

After a few nights in Nottinghamshire, we left with 195 miles of range, and stopped at A1(M) Ferrybridge services, where a charger became available after 10 minutes of waiting, so we topped up from 116 to 166 miles or 75%.

By this time, a new Fastned 6-charger hub at Lidl in Barnard Castle had been opened, so during lunch we topped up from 81 to 205 miles, enough to get us back to Glasgow with 40 miles to spare.

In summary, during these journeys only one faulty charger was encountered, and the maximum wait for a charger was 10 minutes. The only problem was at Ferrybridge getting back through the one-way system from the car park to the charger. If that hadn't worked, we had enough charge to get to Barnard Castle anyway, so we would just have moved on. The plan is never to let the charge go too low, and to aim for charging at a 100 mile range, then the problems are likely to be minimised.

A pleasing aspect of charger developments is the increasing number of charging hubs, with 4 or more chargers, in places which are within reasonable reach of a motorway. However, there is still a need for such a hub in the Gretna-Carlisle-Penrith area, which there are several chargers, but no hubs. Gridserve have planned a hub at Annadale Water, but that's a bit close to Glasgow to be ideal.

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