Electric cars – are we there yet?

 

Sir, – I have driven a electric car for almost a year. I live in a terraced house with on-street parking and thus no possibility of home charging. My options are to go to the Dart station for a three-hour charge or to a local hotel for a 30-minute fast charge.

Like all e-car owners, I use the excellent Electric Ireland app, which tells me if either of these locations is free. However, on arrival, I would guess that half the time I get to the charge point at the Dart, some other e-car owner has got there before me.

Queuing for three hours is not on, so I move to the fast charge point and join the queue, which can be several cars with a heavy use by taxis.

A recent trip to Kenmare sealed my e-car’s fate. Driving to Kenmare, the only suitable fast-charge point is in the Topaz garage at Cashel. On arrival, it was out of order but a phone call had it rebooted fairly soon and then I joined the queue. There is one car ahead of me. It uses a different fast charge cable to mine so I plug mine in only to discover that at a fast-charge point, only one car at a time can be charged.

On the return journey, driving in the most economical of three drive modes, I have enough fuel on board to make it to Cashel with a maximum speed of 90 km/h. However, this was during a recent cold spell and quite soon the car became quite uncomfortable since the most economical mode doesn’t allow the heating to be switched on. Unlike standard cars where excess engine heat can be used for comfortable driving, all heat in an electric car draws on fuel reserves. So, switching to the second most economical mode allowed us to heat the car but we had to kiss goodbye to the fuel equivalent of 40 km/h. We arrive in Cashel with 12 km left in fuel. Again we queue, charge and head home at the 90 km/h limit of economical driving, constantly calculating distance to home with fuel use at different speeds in different drive modes.

Arriving home we have 19 km left and to fuel up for a Saturday golf outing, there is another visit to the Dart slow-charge facility (one charger in use, the other blocked by someone parking a non-electric car, a common discourtesy). So off to the local hotel and I arrived just ahead of another car so, to do as others have done to me (e-car drivers are very facilitating), I only half charge the car to quicken the queue and go home, a full nine hours after leaving Kenmare.

I’ve traded in my electric car for a hybrid.

We simply don’t have the infrastructure at this moment for electric car use, and no national plan that will reassure those who can’t home charge, including the growing number of apartment owners. There is much hype about electric cars but the reality is quite different. – Yours, etc,

MIKE GIBNEY,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.