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Our electric car adventure October 2021

Setting off from Glasgow to Nottinghamshire in October 2021 in our Renault Zoe ZE 50 with rapid charging ability, we wondered whether, since our last visit to England in July 2021, the astonishing increase in electric cars would be matched by the growing number of charging points. So as well as visiting family, this journey was another attempt to find out whether the charging situation had improved since the summer of 2021.

On the M74, we bypassed Abington Services where the Ecotricity chargers have not yet been upgraded and the car park in Abington village, where more rapid chargers are being installed by ChargePlace Scotland, but they're not ready yet. We also missed out Gretna Services where the old Ecotricity chargers have not been upgraded yet, and Todhills, where the old Ecotricity charger is being upgraded, but has disappeared temporarily from Zap-Map.

This time we stopped at the BP Pulse charger behind Smith's Hotel in Gretna, where we had a successful charge up to a range of 200 miles, and there was lots of good information on the screen. Stopping at Scotch Corner services, a van was charging on one charger, and the other was out of action, so we moved on to Wetherby Services, hoping for a repeat of our good experience there in July, where Gridserve, who have recently taken over the Electric Highway from Ecotricity, have installed 3 new double 100kW chargers. Alas, one charger was broken, and there were 5 cars waiting at the other two chargers. Each charger can only support one EV, as the promised software upgrade which will allow dual charging has not materialised yet. Hopefully quite soon now, as that will double the number of outlets! Having plenty of range still, we moved on, trying the Cluster of Nuts car park in Wetherby, which was occupied, then to Boston Spa, two miles off the A1, where the Engie charger was available (and free until 31st October 2021, after which a charge will be levied). We topped up from 74 miles to 205 miles of range. Engie have lots of chargers in West Yorkshire. You need to register on a web app to gain access to them.

Arriving for a week's stay in Bingham, Nottinghamshire, we were soon charged up at the BP Pulse charger behind the Town House Hotel - a good charging experience. Alas, before leaving Bingham, the same charger reset itself and wouldn't play the game, so after a phone call to BP Pulse to report the problem, we set off towards the A1 with 189 miles of range. Stopping briefly at the 4 Instavolt chargers at Starbucks, Elkesley, we topped up to 208 miles of range to try to obviate any problems heading north. Given how busy the chargers had been on the way down, we ignored the Electric Highway and headed for the 4 Instavolt units at Booths in Ripon, where we stopped for lunch. The parking spaces are a bit tight, but 2 chargers were available. By the time we finished charging, all 4 chargers were occupied, but all working.

By the time we had crossed the Pennines, and feeling like a break, we decided to try the BP Pulse charger behind the Appleby Manor Hotel off the A66, which (after moving some wheelie bins to get a space beside the Polestar which was blocking the charger but not plugged in!) was successful and gave us enough charge to get to Glasgow. So a good strategy now seems to be to charge at relatively remote chargers off the main routes, or at clusters of chargers such as those provided by Instavolt, which are likely to be both available and reliable.
We will give the Electric Highway another try next time, as Gridserve are on the right lines, have done a fantastic job in upgrading the chargers, but have been overwhelmed by the demand and I think must be struggling to get spare parts. On this occasion, though, thank you, Instavolt and BP Pulse!

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