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Getting on the road with an EV Planner

 Published 7th June 2023
Driver Guides 

Sooner or later, you're going to end up behind the wheel of an electric car, and there's nothing wrong with that. In 2022 there were almost 850,000 new electric and hybrid vehicles registered in the UK, more than the total of both petrol and diesel models combined. In the last few years, the market share for alternatively fuelled vehicles has gone from 5% to around 35%, and that growth isn't going to slow down anytime soon.

The concern consistently raised by those who have yet to venture into EV ownership is having to change the way you drive. Outdated tales of range anxiety and lengthy charging times are still going some way to negatively influencing people.

That doesn't mean it's actually something worth worrying about. And it definitely doesn't mean you're going to need to pack camping gear and a week's worth of food just to drive to the shops. In all fairness, driving an EV does require a change in the way you think about some journeys. The use of the word “some” is an important distinction though.

The average EV now gives you a range of 250 to 300 miles. Some smaller models more suited for urban driving limit their size and weight with smaller batteries that will only do 100 miles or so. Granted, both of those are less than you'd get from a tank of fuel, but does that really matter?

We have a wide range of EVs available to lease with ranges and budgets to suit every driver.

For most of us, the average journey is fairly local so a 300-mile range could be enough to cover your daily commute plus a few extra miles of domestic chores for three or four days before you need to recharge. Even one of the smaller city cars could get away with being charged every other day. If you've got a home charger, or access to a charger at work, you can top up your battery while you're doing something else and not even have to think about it. And with the latest batteries and rapid charging you could top up from 20-80% in around half hour.

Charging on the road - it's not complicated

The only real difference to your driving habits comes on longer journeys, which for most of us means a few times a year when we're going on holiday or visiting family and friends. Unlike a traditional car, driving an EV further than the range allows requires a little bit of extra planning but it's not as complicated as you think, especially if you use one of the many EV planning apps.

Just like a regular route planner you can enter your destination and it will work out the best way to go. On top of that, it can then find chargers along your route so you know where you can stop to top up the battery while you use the facilities or take a quick break. Many apps also allow you to select your actual car. It then knows how big your battery is and the energy consumption rate so it can offer more accurate routes . Some of them even let you input the number of passengers and tyre pressures for a really accurate range estimation.

Planning a longer journey with one of these apps makes the whole process easier and ensures you can enjoy the trip.

What to check before you set off

  1. How far you can (realistically) travel on one charge and how many charging stops you require.
  2. The type of rapid charger compatible with your car.
  3. The power rating of rapid charge your car can accept to know how long you'll have to stop for.

Finding rapid chargers on your journey

This is where the apps come into their own. Some cars will have the ability to plan charging stops via the satnav but most will send you to a limited number of charging points rather than offering you the full range of providers. The EV route planners below offer more choice and even a few more functions to make this process more convenient. There are other planners available too so it's worth taking a little time to have a look at them all and find the one that works best for you.

  1. Pod Point
  2. ZapMap
  3. PlugShare
  4. Chargemap
  5. Wattsup!

What to expect at rapid charging stations

Common charging methods include apps, contactless card readers, RFID cards, and some just plug and play like the Tesla Superchargers. You probably won't have access to every single one of them so it's worth knowing in advance.

Some rapid chargers show their live status, but this is liable to change while you are driving to the site so the best bet is to pick sites with numerous chargers.

How fast your car rapid charges depends on how much power the chargers can offer and how much power your car can accept. Unlike a 7kW charger that charges at that rate regardless of how full your battery is, electric cars manage their rapid charge rate to protect the battery.

Different cars have slightly different charging rates but it's worth noting that in all cases the quickest charging occurs between 20 and 80%. If your battery drops below 20% it has to start charging more slowly to “warm the battery” and going from 80% to fully charged can also take longer than you'd think. Keeping your battery charge in that middle range means when you do stop the process should be a little quicker.

Ultimately, long journeys in electric cars are the same as long road trips in conventional cars, so the following tips are also equally valid for all.

  • Take regular breaks (you'll soon notice how well these fit with en route charging!)
  • Stop when you are tired.
  • Take snacks and drinks.
  • It is better to get there late than in a damaged car, or not at all.
  • Remember, the traffic does not care how angry you get.

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