Electric Car Charge for Free

I am not sure how often this happens and even though charging at some places can be free, which feels very nice – free energy – you are not really saving a great deal of cash.

But where are these free chargers?

Near where I live there is a free charger in a pay-car-park. BUT the parking for a charging electric car is free as well. It is next to a supermarket that we use. Park up, plug in and go and do your one hour shop.

Another supermarket has free chargers while you shop for as long as you like.

Many chargers get put of free charge for a while after they have been maintained. I guess they do this to check the charger is now working properly.

Social media is good as folk will note when a charger is set to free vend. A very useful app is ZapMap which shows the location of public chargers and if you click on a location it tells you whether the charger is working, what rate(s) of charge it provides, when it was last used successfully and if it si free.

Easy.

Driving my Electric Car

In the first post I described how much I liked my Kia e-niro. But what is it like to drive?

The e-niro fully electric car is simpler to drive than a conventional ICE, internal combustion engine, car. It has a keyless start system – just get in the car with the key in your pocket and foot on the brake and press the ‘start’ button. The car goes through a system check with a pretty graphic and a few bleeps. By the time I have put the seat belt on the car is ready to go. It insists you agree to drive safely by confirming with a touch to the touch screen. (You can ignore this agreement.)

The first thing is that the car is silent. It is an odd sensation as it does not feel as if it is ready to drive – but it is. The drive selector has three settings. Rotate to the left and we are in reverse, to the right and drive is selected. The middle position is park.

Select reverse and the really clear rear camera shows a good wide view of the rear behind the car. It is tempting to rely on this too much and at the moment I also check by looking left and right. The car drive is completely smooth – there are no gear changes as there would be on a conventional automatic transmission vehicle. The electric motor has amazing torque which is the same at low speed as it is at high speed. The same acceleration from start as there is at 60 mph. It really does move. The only car noise is road and wind noise and the first thing my wife commented on was the smoothness of the ride.

At low speeds, up to about 30 mph the car has a generated sound whooshing noise which is meant to warn pedestrians as there is no engine noise. It works and I frequently see the puzzled looks of pedestrians as the space ship type noise accompanies the car’s travel.

My Electric Car

I have owned a fully electric car for a couple of months. Driven just over 1000 miles and I thought it would be good to write a brief piece about how I feel about it now and how the charging works etc.

Buying an electric car is not cheap – the battery costs a big chunk but this is expected to dramatically drop as more are produced and technology usually makes such things less expensive. But I also have a small desire to cause less environmental damage. There are other reasons for changing to all electric from ICE, internal combustion engine, cars and other vehicles. You can even buy electric <name any transport>! The cost of the fuel – kilowatt hours for an electric car compared to diesel or petrol. I can fill my electric car for just over £3. 64kW x 5p/kWh = £3.20. That will take me at least 250 miles. My previous SUV cost way over that to fill, something like £70 and that took me about 500 miles. Pretty easy to see how the cost advantage is with the electric car. Something like 10 times cheaper per mile!

Charging, fuelling, an electric car is not the same as fuelling an ICE car – and I don;t mean the type of fuel it uses but the way one adds kWh over time. With an ICE car I used to run it until it was about one quarter full and then I’d fill it up at the garage. Took about 5 minutes plus the drive to and from the garage.

But with my electric car I plug it in at home. It charges overnight using low cost electrical energy. I use a company called Octopus energy who, I must say, are delightful. Great customer service. You have to have a smart meter installed,type 2. And you need a device which channels the electricity to the car. I use a device called a ZAPPI from Myenergie. All pretty simple.

I have also charged for free in a local car park while my wife and I go shopping for an hour. She shops and I trail along behind. Where car you legally get free petrol?

I have not yet travelled on a long journey. Lockdown etc. But if I was going to travel to, say, Bristol where I work with some schools how would i do it? Charge the car fully overnight and drive the 150 miles or so. I’d then have to stop on the way back at one of the increasing number of chargers for 30 mins or so to top up the battery to be able to get back. As far as I know all motorway service stations have chargers, more expensive than my home overnight charging but still cheaper than petrol. There are some really fast chargers that can fill my Kia E-Niro from empty to 100% in just over an hour. But one does not need to fill it up, just put enough energy in to get home with some to spare. There really are chargers all over the place and the network is growing. Just take a look at YouTube where folk take you through journeys across the UK.