Charging ahead - 5 top tips for charging EVs out on the road
As you may already know if you’ve been following our blog or rented from us recently, we’re now pleased to be able to offer a brand new range of electric vehicles to our customers – so if you’ve been looking to go green when you hire a car or hire a van, now’s the perfect time!
As things stand of course, there’s a bit of a strategic element to hiring an electric car or van, as you need to keep an eye on how much charge its battery has left – especially on long journeys. So whether you’ve been behind the wheel before, or it’s your first time taking an electric car out on the roads, here are a couple of things it’s worth bearing in mind about charging!
This is the biggest one. The UK’s charging infrastructure is steadily improving, but it’s not yet at the stage of traditional petrol stations, which means the demand for charging points is a lot higher. For that reason alone, it’s best to scout out which charging points you plan to use in advance, and check whether they’ll be available – it reduces the risk of a lengthy (and possibly frustrating) wait.
There are various apps you can use to keep track of UK charging points. The best strategy is to aim for a large charge hub. Motorway service areas tend to have a decent amount of them, but there can sometimes be long queues of drivers waiting to use them – so it’s always a good plan to leave extra time allowance for charging on your journey, just in case.
Observe charge point etiquette
Depending on your outlook, this is either one of the nicest or most disconcerting things about EV charge points – there’s no real formal queueing system, As we’ve touched on above, some smartphone apps allow them to be reserved in advance, but most drivers just have to be patient, polite, and respect each other.
It can sound like a bit of a nightmare if you’ve got a job on with a relatively strict timer, but you might be surprised at how quickly you get through – especially if you’re friendly to other drivers. (Although the numbers of EVs on the roads have been sharply rising in recent years, there’s still a friendly community feel among lots of EV drivers.)
And this should go without saying, but apparently it happens – don’t unplug other vehicles! Most will have a lock preventing that anyway, but even if you can, try and avoid that temptation unless you’ve explicitly checked with the owner first. In the best case scenario, you run the risk of having your own vehicle unplugged in retaliation, and in the worst case scenario… well, things could escalate from there. (Nobody wants a fist-fight at a motorway service station. It’s not a classy look for anyone.)
Make sure you charge at the right speed
Let’s be honest, in most cases, more or less everyone wants to charge their vehicle rapidly and then get themselves back on the road again. Somewhat counterintuitively though, it’s not that simple.
Electric vehicles either have a Type 1 or Type 2 socket for slow and fast charging, and a Combined Charging System (CCS) or CHAdeMO socket for rapid battery refills. Type 1 and CHAdeMO sockets are generally found mostly on Japanese cars, whereas CCS are more frequently found on European EVs and plug-in hybrids.
Now, we’ll spare you a lot of technical detail here, but essentially each EV is rated for a certain amount of power. In a practical sense, that means it’s limited in terms of the amount of refill power it can handle, and how fast it can be recharged. (Sort of like if every water bottle was fitted with a device to stop people filling it using fire hoses.) Ultimately, that means that putting yours onto a rapid charger or ultra-rapid charger won’t do much good unless you know it’s specifically rated for it. Otherwise, all you’ll end up doing is possibly annoying other drivers who actually would be able to benefit.
Move off promptly
Make sure you keep yourself available to unplug your car and move it away the very moment it’s finished charging. You can probably get away with a bit of leeway if you’re just paying for something small in any attached motorway services, but you’ll probably return to a somewhat hostile reception if your car has been left attached to the charger, fully charged, for more than fifteen minutes or so. It goes back to that question of etiquette we mentioned above.
In general, once you know your vehicle is in the final run-up to being fully charged, it’s best to stay in the immediate area so that you can jet off promptly. (It’s also worth noting that some charge points only allow a fixed time for charging to avoid this – for example, 45 minutes or so.)
Those are just a few of the key points from our experts – you may be able to think of (or learn) some of your own! And of course, if you have any questions about our electric fleet, or indeed any of our vans for hire or cars for hire, don’t hesitate to ask our team here at Intack Self Drive. With over 50 years of van, car and minibus hire experience, our fleet now spans over 450 cars, vans, and minibuses – so if you’re a business user looking for vehicles to meet your company requirements, or just a private customer looking for a personal vehicle for short-term use, you can count on us to have exactly the right vehicle at exactly the right price. Feel free to give us a call on 01254 57811, and we’ll be happy to help however we can!