500 electric miles in one day

John Curtis is a motoring columnist, EV advocate and host of the EV Café.

He is working in partnership with elmo to help spread the good word on EVs and subscription.

The background

I have had a very old electric car for almost a decade, but the Nissan Leaf had to go. With new cars having 3 times the range of my old car, the time was right. I had used the Leaf for getting about town but never done a long journey. However, my work takes me to the four corners of the UK and Ireland, so I knew I had to get something capable, but not at silly money. Enter elmo EV Subscriptions.

I didn’t know what I wanted other than it had to be able to go about 200 real world miles between charges. Having reviewed the options online there were two options that worked for me. The MG ZS had a range of 225 miles or the Kia e-Niro with a real world range of 230 miles. I had driven an e-Niro before so decided that was the way to go.

I chose subscription because I wasn’t sure if I could hack doing very long journeys in an EV, and I wanted to be able to change my car for a different model, if the eNiro wasn’t what I needed, after all.

Kia e-Niro charging at a motorway services – John Curtis

The subscription model and me

elmo offers a range of vehicles with their subscription service which gives customers access to a fully electric vehicle, for a short fixed term. The subscription includes the vehicle, maintenance, insurance, and even access to their public charging solution… More on that later. You can even have a Tesla on subscription, if that floats your boat?

I emailed the team, and from that moment on the customer service kicked in. I am a grumpy old man and am hard to impress but seriously I could not fault the elmo team. I got a reply within an hour, started the process of ordering the vehicle and submitting a few documents to show who I was. 

It was genuinely a very easy process taking a little over twenty minutes from start to finish.

Two weeks later, my new subscription vehicle was delivered, just as expected, immaculate, charged and ready to ferry me about.

For me, subscription just works.

The charging infrastructure

One of the common misconceptions about EVs is that charging is difficult. With enormous investment in public charging points, it’s never been easier to charge on the go. According to Zap-Map the growth in all types of charging has been seriously impressive.

A chart from Zap-Map showing the number of charging points in the UK by speed between 2016 and 2023.

Slow, fast, rapid and ultra-rapid chargers give a broad indication of the rate of charge you can expect but charging speeds depend on a number of variables, and I have learned that there is a place for all types of charging, and costs vary dependent upon the “speed” of the charger. 

Mostly though I still charge at home and overnight as it is cheaper and more convenient than public charging. That said, long journeys are also a breeze.

There is really only one way to know if an electric vehicle will work for you and that is to give one a good test.

The journey

So, on Wednesday, 12th July 2023, I set off on a 500 mile journey, in one day, in my subscription Kia eNiro. I was attending the Goodwood Festival of Speed, in West Sussex. 

I planned my journey using the Zapmap Premium service (£2.99 a month and worth every penny) which gives me a desktop, mobile phone and in car live planning tool to ensure I know where chargers are, how fast they charge and if they are being used or are available. I planned the route, thinking I would charge twice, once in the Manchester area and once in Hampshire.

I intended to “charge when I stop” rather than “stop to charge” as I always need a break after about 200 miles for a coffee, a stretch, something to eat and perhaps a “comfort break”.

My charging experience

Charging an EV can often be a doddle, especially when you use service stations such as MFG Crow Orchard just off of the M6, at Parbold.

The process involved plugging the car in (to a CCS plug) and doing something else while it charges! With ultra-fast charging points, you can get up to 80% charged in as little as half an hour. Many charging points including this MFG site also offer contactless payment, making it convenient for drivers.

I took a little over 40 minutes to charge to 80% full giving me another 220 miles.

My next stop was 214 miles away in Winchester, so I decided to stop when I fancied a break and find a charger “on the fly”.

As I approached Warwick I knew I needed a feed. I found a cheeky GRIDSERVE charger and added about 80 miles to the car to give me a safety net and to get me to around Winchester.

A coffee and sandwich on the roof of an EV as it charges at a service station.

With a safety margin I headed to my planned stop at Winchester, plugged in and used my elmoCharge card for the first time. Provided in partnership with Paua, I can charge at over 20 different networks and will be billed afterwards. All that charging in one place. Superb.

A GRIDSERVE Electric Highway charger in the distance with an elmoCharge.

I arrived at my destination with more charge than I needed but it saw me through for a couple of days with no charging as I shuttled between my hotel and the Festival of Speed.

Despite mainstream media headlines, every charger worked first time. Ultra-rapid chargers are great for a “volt and bolt”, a quick charge as fast as possible. I got 77kW on a 150kW charger.

The rate of charge is dependent upon the vehicles capacity to accept the charge fast enough and the amount of charge available from the charger. Often the charger is not capable of providing what you think you will get, but once you get that in your head it makes life easier.

At the Winchester Gridserve 50kW charger I achieved only 29kW, which was a little disappointing.

However, a cheeky McDonalds may have eased my pain.

In conclusion…

The UK EV experience is not as daunting as one might think. The vehicle and subscription from elmo have been flawless.

That said, the charging experience is variable. Mostly, it is significantly better than I expected and is easy. Getting a receipt for contactless charges can be a bit of a challenge but you can access a receipt online. 

I can honestly say that after nine hours in the car I was fresh, relaxed and thoroughly content with the experience. 

My elmo subscription experience has been superb. Charging is not as hard as some newspapers would have you believe, but one swallow doesn’t make a summer.

Where will I go next? The world is now mine to explore, one EV mile at a time.

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