It should be like using a gas pump and I don’t understand why it isn’t, “said the young woman who was unsuccessfully trying to charge her electric car at Tesco in the East Yorkshire town of Beverley just like us. we were.
The people of Yorkshire are renowned for their straight talk, and while this scion of the southern part of that beautiful region would have added a curse at the “gas pump”, she was a good example. Her comment perfectly summed up one of the biggest problems people face when trying to charge their electric vehicles.
Both she and my wife have spent most of the half hour trying to get apps to work because, for some weird reason, you have to have a damn app to use what looks like well over half of the electric charging points currently available in. Great Britain. The problem with these apps is that they don’t always work, and even when they do, they are unwieldy and whimsical. Trying to use one often feels a bit like trying to make sense of Ikea’s instructions on how to assemble a Welsh dresser.
Someday there may even be people starting businesses that help you navigate bloody things, like those offering to put together the most irritating kits sold by the giant Swedish furniture retailer. The only question they won’t be able to answer is: why the hell are these apps needed in the first place?
Electric cars are wonderful things. They’re a joy to drive, they’re cheap as chips to run (well, they were before the energy crisis), and they don’t pump harmful fumes into the environment. The downside, however, is that they carry with them the risk of dropping drivers into dystopian hell, should they try to use them for extended periods while away from their home charging point.
By comparison, my local fast-charging yard simply lets me swipe my debit card, connect, and listen to the radio, or Alexa, or my favorite podcast for an extraordinarily short amount of time before I can leave. “Download our app,” she says in my garage. But the fact is; customers are not obliged to do so. In many other places they are.
We knew that switching to electricity would present some challenges with the only really long trip we make each year to Yorkshire for a family holiday. We knew that it would take longer and that it would involve planning regarding the stops. But we were fine with it because we thought the benefits would outweigh the costs and we would like there to be a livable planet for our children after reshuffling this deadly spiral.
What we didn’t realize is how maddening, maddeningly British the charging setup is, by which I mean the launch was complicated by a large dose of completely avoidable stupidity.
Those gibberish apps are just the beginning. Charging points also have a nasty habit of breaking, so they’re often out of order – new technology and all. This can lead to some tough times if, for example, you are on the A1, which becomes a kind of desert in charge in the Midlands. Unless you drive a Tesla.
Yes, there are only Tesla charging stations. We stumbled upon one of those as we eagerly watched our battery life and wondered if it would have enough puff to get to the next one.
Teslas appear to have become the Merc or BMW of the electric driver. The car that says, “Look at me! Look how I have cash, a lot of money. Am I not a flash git?”. If they restart Friendsthey might even use one of the more elaborate models to replace the Ferrari that Joey polishes and pretends to own.
One of the unexpected rewards I’ve found driving electrically is that you become part of a community. People chat around the charger and there you will meet all human life; they are not just committed greenies like us. They also help each other. They share tips on how to get the most out of these vehicles and, in particular, how to maximize battery life. The best we got was from a dude in overalls with some really impressive tattoos, who was bringing home a second hand model for his daughter (always use the eco-pedal and don’t forget your B-mode).
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Tesla’s drivers, however, have charging points only available to them so they can recharge without having to worry about rubbing their backs with little people. Oh, for a couple of sharp keys nearby! Sorry. Indulging in vandalism might push it a little further, even in the case of adoring (and snobbish) customers of the richest man in the world.
The fact is, this mess of a situation is important. The sale of most petrol cars and vans is expected to be banned from 2030. Britain needs to install far more charging points by now, especially outside London. By that, I mean charging points that don’t require you to be one of Elon Musk’s groupies to use.
Longer journeys are not only extended because of the charging time, but also because of the need to queue to use the ones available. And, yes, it should be just like using a gas pump.
There is no earthly reason to ask people to download some stupid app before uploading. The latter must be digitally trashed and also banned.