Earlier this year, as part of a long-term test review, I had six months to discover just how good the Kia e-Niro is. But as the time neared its end, it became apparent that the car’s real-world 250-300-mile range meant I hadn’t driven anywhere that necessitated the use of the UK’s public charging network.
So it was that I took the plunge, adding further jeopardy by making this pioneering journey with my entire family in tow, off on our summer holidays to West Wales.
At worst, I wouldn’t return just on a flatbed truck but also divorced and with children who no longer wanted to know me.
The challenge was complex, because we needed to travel to and from Wales on the motorway networks, whereas we would be looking for every kind of charger available while we were there, from rural public spots to those provided by local car dealers and even, on occasion, three-pin plugs where we were staying.
However, 800 miles later and with two journeys of more than 250 miles under our belts, we were back home and still on speaking terms. It took some planning and there were fleeting moments of inconvenience and lost time, but it worked out just fine, a few ultimately minor dramas aside.
Here, then, are some of the lessons learned from a trip that proved to me once and for all that the capability of today’s EVs and charging network make the switch from a petrol or diesel car far easier than most people imagine.
1. Electric car people are nice people
I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. Social media is awash with virtue-signalling EV evangelists who jump at the chance to strike out at anyone who dare suggest even the slightest compromise of electrification. But everyone I met in an electric car was friendly, helpful and informative, and many went out of their way to help and educate me. This is the kind of advocacy needed to persuade anyone with doubts to switch to electric motoring, and it was a joy to discover a positive subject that bound people together in a common goal.
2. Some people can’t help behaving like idiots
Based on my journey, ‘some people’ is actually mostly made up of BMW drivers. The chap who parked his diesel X6 in a charging bay and left its engine running for 20 minutes? Idiot. The BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrid buyer who dropped it in a charging bay but then got ticketed because he wasn’t smart enough to plug it in? Bigger idiot. The only upside was that they weren’t using disabled bays, I guess.
Read more: Autocar