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Electric Car Journeys in Scotland

Being based in Glasgow and being lucky enough to have a garage, most charging is done at home. However, when on a journey of over 200 miles in the summer, public rapid charging points become essential.

Scotland has more charging points in relation to its population than any other country in the UK. However, like elsewhere, the charging experience can be variable.

ChargePlace Scotland coordinates the main charging network in Scotland, although other charging networks such as Instavolt, Gridserve Electric Highway, BP Pulse, Shell Recharge and Ionity also contribute to the mix.

Part 1 - Driving from Glasgow to Edzell for a Glasgow Natural History Society tree weekend in June 2021

Leaving Glasgow with a full charge in our Renault Zoe ZE50, and not knowing how reliable charging points would be, we stopped after 64 miles in Perth and tried our luck at Broxden Park and Ride. Arriving with an 81% charge and 185 miles of range, it wasn't really necessary to plug in, but the chance of a free charge wasn't to be passed up, so after 39 minutes with 99% or 239 miles of range, we were on our way again.

After a visit to the National Trust for Scotland's Branklyn Garden, complete with afternoon tea, we made via Dundee for Forfar, where there is a super charging hub near the bypass with four rapid charging points again free of charge. While we visited the local KFC, the car took 27 minutes to charge from 83% to 99%, or from 195 to 232 miles of range.

Being now fully charged up allowed us to enjoy the weekend without worrying about the range, while visiting the Burn, Drumtochty Wood and the National Nature Reserve at St. Cyrus.

On the way back we did a more or less full charge again at Forfar, which gave us plenty of range to get back home to Glasgow.

However for curiosity, we plugged in at the BP Pulse 3 rapid charger hub at the Triangle, Perth, for a few minutes to check that it worked, and at the similarly working Shell Recharge at Balhaldie near Dunblane on the A9.

All in all, a very satisfactory charging experience.

Part 2 - Driving an electric car to Speyside in winter 2022

When on a journey of over 160 miles in the winter, public rapid charging points become essential. This journey saw us relying on Chargeplace Scotland for all of our charging sessions.

We started off on a late January day, when the temperature was 7 degrees, so not by any means the worst winter conditions. Having been driven around Glasgow in around that temperature for the previous few days, the car was doing 3.8 miles per kWHr. Hoping that we could get a free charge in Perth, we made for Broxden Park and Ride, but the only one working rapid charger out of three was occupied (of the other two, one appeared to be temporarily out of order and one has been broken for more than a year), so we went to Mill St in the centre of Perth. A free charge was available, although it's not the fastest charger. However, it is a nice car park and does have a Marks and Spencer close by with facilities, so we charged for nothing from 115 to 162 miles of range, or 92%, before moving on. Had that charging point not been available, there are three BP Pulse chargers and four Ionity chargers at the Triangle at the north end of the Perth bypass, which formed a backup plan. We left Perth with enough charge to get to Nethybridge, our destination, where we arrived with 30 miles to spare. If the range on the guessometer had proved inaccurate, there are 3 rapid chargers at Kingussie and two in Aviemore, but what the car says is usually slightly pessimistic, i.e. more range is often actually available than it says.

While staying at Nethybridge, it was a good idea to pop in to Aviemore to get a full charge. In the Highland Council area, you have to pay for charging, so we plugged in at the gloriously named Public Toilet Car Park, where there was already a car using CSS, so we plugged in to the Type 2 cable as the Zoe can also use 43kW AC charger, (although only at a slower 22kW). After a while, the other car left, so the CCS became free and the cables were swapped over. (The backup plan of using the Osprey charger at the south end of Aviemore didn't work as it was occupied.)

This faffing about meant that by the time the 45 minute parking limit (annoying!) was up, we had only 101 miles of range, so after some more driving about around Nethybridge then Grantown, where the charger appeared to be broken, another charge at Aviemore was necessary the next day, to ensure we had 124 miles on board - more than enough range to get to Perth.

The charger in Grantown had a communication error message on the screen, but as it turned out later it might have been working after all as the car may not have been plugged in properly, despite apparently clicking into place. Following advice the next day from Chargeplace Scotland (who answered the phone very quickly when the same thing happened at Aviemore), the heavy cable was lifted up to relieve the strain on the plug and socket, and then it worked.

On the way south, we decided to have a look at the chargers in the Rie-Achan Road car park at Pitlochry, which was a good idea, as it turned out that the broken chargers shown on Zap-Map have been replaced by two new ones, which worked and were free! This gave us enough range (130 miles) to get back to Glasgow.

Altogether, the journey from Glasgow to Nethybridge then Grantown to Glasgow, plus some local driving about cost less than £10 in electricity for 351 miles, not a bad cost in relation to petrol or diesel, although in the future, fewer charging points will be free.

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