Oh my goodness. Today must have posed every possible problem. Just a quick trip to Grantham on an overnight charge I thought, no problem, only to find I had plugged in the car in the garage and failed to turn it on at the switch – what an idiot! So 23 miles of charge for a 30 mile round trip. I programmed the destination on the Sat Nav which told me there was rapid charge point at the A1 Moto. No problem! Let’s give it a try I thought. So with 8 miles remaining I pulled up at the 4 plug charge point – these ones managed by Ecotricity. It was throwing it down with rain – but I braved the weather to read the instructions (well I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to get home again!) I needed to download the Ecotricity App. Fine. And unlike Chargemaster there was no minimum top up but a 30 minute rapid charge would debit my credit card with £6 and give a 75% charge. Still cheaper than fuel and with my own overnight stupidity it had to be done.
There were two different charge leads attached the machines, neither of which appeared to fit the socket on the car. Wishing I had checked that out first! After getting drenched I noticed that there is actually another charge socket next to the one I had been using at home on the car disguised with a black plastic cover. So I popped it off and with relief the charging lead socket fitted fine. The machine lit up and started a 4-step checking routine on its screen. After step one a message appeared “initiation failed”. Oh dear. I jumped back sopping wet into the car and rang the Ecotricity helpline.
They were fantastic. They knew from the charger ID where I was and connected to the machine to find out what was wrong. I was on hold for a few minutes and then told I’d not plugged it in properly and to try again. With a phone battery now waning I asked them to call me back in a few minutes when I’d had another try in the rain.
Another member of the EV community was charging his Renault next to me and kindly came to my rescue with an umbrella. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve had this before and the Ecotricity people are very helpful.” I explained they had been very helpful but I’d not plugged it in correctly. So he had a try for me and, oh dear, my knight in shining armour seemingly broke the charge handle which now wouldn’t release. I jumped back in the car and my phone rang. Ecotricity had called me back. I explained the problem. “Don’t worry, we’ll do whatever we can to get you charged up and if absolutely necessary the AA will collect any stranded EV user for free and take you to the next nearest operational point.” Wow, that is good service. I had 8 miles on the clock and knew Marshall Nissan, with whom AW has partnered in this power adventure, was nearby with a chargepoint.
But then my Knight wound down his neighbouring window. “I’ve finished my charge now, let’s swop places and I can help you.” The man in his late 50s has had his electric Renault for about 3 months and had an amazingly large umbrella! We swopped places, started the whole routine again and bingo! Success. If this had happened first time I would have been on the same cloud as yesterday. The machine whirred up, the blue charge lights came on and we were in business. I went into the Moto for a coffee and dry off and by the time I was back in the car there were only 5 minutes left to charge. Note all power has to be off while charging so no listening to the radio or charging up your phone while waiting. The charge closed off, my app pinged to let me know to unplug. Back into the rain and, oh no, I can’t unplug the socket. This really was becoming the worst day ever but I was determined to push to my limits if only to be able to demonstrate the worst case scenario in this blog for you lovely readers! With some jiggling and wiggling of the handle (similar to a petrol pump handle) I realised the tip of the handle had slipped inside a rubber sleeve (yes Ecotricity had mentioned that earlier on the phone, I recalled). Pulling back the sleeve released the handle and the socket came unplugged.
Very wet again I got into the car, albeit somewhat satisfied I had survived and now had 63 miles of charge.
I opened up my phone notepad and typed in the following
Essential EV kit list:
Large golfing umbrella
Mobile phone charger
Pen & paper
I then went into town and bought a very large umbrella!
So ok, not a great experience today, but my own fault for not checking the charger was switched on in the garage last night. I hope you had a chuckle reading this and it spares you from going through the same. Nissan have also confirmed that it is correct that the AA will collect any stranded EV driver free of charge.