Electric cars are hot topic and they’re only going to become ever more mainstream. You might even find yourself considering a change to EV driving.
The EV Experience Centre in Milton Keynes, is the best place to see what EV cars are out there, and crucially you can book a test drive. They also offer week long loans, so you can get a real taste of electric driving.
I like the idea of buying a Renault ZOE, so I booked a week loan to see if it was really for me.
The morning of the collection arrives. I’m dropped of at The EV Experience Centre, filled with nerves, I wonder what driving an electric car will be like?
It sits before me silently poised. Entirely different from my normal petrol sipping, Plain Jane Vauxhall Corsa, this is a Renualt ZOE and it’s mine for a week.
Test drive done, I’ve been shown the controls and felt how instantly the acceleration pulls you from stop to gooooo…easy, or so I thought.
Swept up in the sheer awe of how cool an electric car is and my mind goes blank. I find myself alone in a car that suddenly seems foreign to me.
Where’s the key? The ignition…poking at the start/stop button I wait to hear the roar of an engine letting me know I’m powered up and ready to drive…nothing. Suspecting all is well, because electric cars are silent, right?! I click the lever from park into reverse and glide away from my space. Slipping back up into drive and pressing the accelerator, I expect to move forward and onward with my journey.
I’m not moving. Ah ok, I’ve stalled…wait I can’t stall an electric car…turn the ignition and restart the engine…wait that’s not the answer, there’s no engine…my dash is all lit up, I should have power.
I go back though each step and realise my error, my foot hadn’t been on the brake when I first pressed the start/stop button, it’s only when I do that, that I see ‘Ready’ flash up on my dash and here the faint electric noise the ZOE makes.
Let’s try this again.
As the week goes on driving the ZOE becomes more natural, I’m enjoying avoiding petrol stations and getting a good, free parking spot at work. My journeys are effortless.
On average the ZOE uses 10 miles of range for my 4-mile commute, It’s been super chilly in the mornings so this includes me turning up the heat and putting my foot down a little.
This seems high, but if you press the all-saving Eco button the Zoe zips into super efficiency. You’ll feel a lag in acceleration, where the power is being restricted slightly, but in times of need this is hardly an issue. Using Eco, I managed to get to work having only used up 4 miles of range. Perfect!
Since I was only doing short journeys, saving range wasn’t a priority. It’s good to know that if you were in need of ZOE’s full 250-mile range (real world range is 174 in the summer or in 112 winter), pushing the Eco button will help get you there.
Ok, so you get to your destination and you’re ready to charge. What next? How do you pay? I had a POLAR network card that enables you access to Chargemaster points and the wider EV charging network.
You pay a monthly fee of £7.85 (there’s no subscription contract) and have access to over 5,000 charging points. Most are free to use and the others you only pay for the electricity consumed (at 9p per kWh, which is still cheaper than charging at home).
That’s one service, I’ve got to be honest this all hurts my head a little. It’s not easy or streamlined, there are lots of different companies with similar offerings.
A quick search on Zap Map brings up the various public charging options, I’d recommending looking here to see which is best for you.
Charging at work was a definite bonus, I’d finish my day, come down to my car and it was fully charged. Easy. However, if you want to charge at home, included in the purchase of your ZOE is the installation of a charging unit at home, making the transition to EV life even simpler.
My current petrol drinking car sat abandoned on my drive all week and quickly became a distance memory. I adapted to EV life surprisingly well, it went from daunting to something I started to take for granted. The novelty wore of and the excitement began to ebb, but I was left with a sense of comfort and certainty in the reliability of the ZOE.
If you’re considering a foray into the world of volts, the ZOE seems to me to be one of the more viable options. The price is reasonable and so is the range.
You’ve got to factor in the battery rental costs, which varies depending on the monthly mileage you opt for. You can purchase the ZOE with the battery included, but this bumps up the cost significantly and means that once your battery is out of it’s five-year warranty, if anything goes wrong you’ve got to foot the bill.
At the end of my week I’d happily own a ZOE. They’re fun, nippy and ideal for city driving. You get the ease of an automatic, quick acceleration and regenerative braking, so that it hardly feels like driving at all.