Last Tuesday was the day I decided to drive down to London from Robin Hood country, approximately 132 each way. I made plans on Monday evening to find my ideal rapid charging locations so as to avoid using the Rex.
My first leg was to leave Nottingham and head down for BMW Lancaster at Milton Keynes, 81 miles away where ChargeMaster has a CCS rapid charger. As I arrived, (Rex had already activated for the last 5 miles of 70mph motorway driving) annoyingly the parking space had been taken up by petrol cars (bmw employees) leaving me with no chance of attaching the cable to my car. The kerb side spaces had no paint markings to designate a charging point so any car owner is able to park along the road and prevent you from charging. Resident bmw genius suggested I drive into their service garage and charge up there. I did but I realised that it was just a 32amp unit and I really needed something rapid.
Eventually a BMW employee came to move his car but no need, the charger was not registering my ChargeNow card.
I rang helpline and they just confirmed that the charger is showing no errors on their systems. Having wasted an hour I drove a mile down the road to Milton Keynes coach terminus where a another CCS is installed. Miraculously all was working well (user face could be simplified) so within 30 mins I had 85 mile range and was on my way to the olympic village, westfield shopping centre, albeit 80 mins late.
I arrived at Stratford with Rex engaged for last 10 miles.
Now Westfield has plenty of 32 amp outlets but they are on a particular floor and there's no signage. I did eventually locate them and plugged in my bmw cable.
A swipe of my card and charging was in progress. 4 hours later on my return, shockingly my i3 had only 8% charge. No idea what happened but clearly some error. I then had difficulty removing my cable from the unit. I made a phone call to Source London with the promise that the unit owner would call me back, but nothing. With 15 mins of jiggling I got my cable back.
Next plan was to head for Ikea at Tottenham, North Circular which had a ecotricity CCS but, no go, an error showing on my i3 display, saying insufficient power from the unit, with rex on I headed for M1, Toddington services.
Tried ecotricty unit but my i3 was again showing the same error. No choice, had to fill up to the brim with 7.8litres.
Headed back to Milton Keynes coach terminus to charge but unbelievably this time, error showing on the unit before I even plugged it into the car.
Headed to BMW dealer a mile away, no problem with parking this time but still not recognising my card. Headed back to coach terminus, nothing working.
Decided to drive to BMW northampton, near the M1, placed all of my cards on the sensor but not one was recognised, including my charge master card (unit owned by CM).
Arrived at Newport Pagnell services, again an error, ecotricity unit not providing enough power to charge the car (also red lights flashing around inlet).
Carried on driving to Leicester North services 11 miles away on the A50, i had zero electric range and 15 miles showing on the petrol gauge which turned orange in colour from white but within a minute it plummeted to 9 miles! (Wonder if it turns to red when you're into reserve fuel?).
For the last 5 miles I reduced speed to 54mph , switched into eco plus mode and unplugged everything. Thankfully I arrived onto the forecourt to fill up. Interestingly I could only add 8 litres (1 litre reserve?)
I arrived home after an epic 5 hour journey with all that hassle, a journey which would normally take 2.5 hours.
My experience this day had depressed me greatly, although I had embraced the future, clearly the charging suppliers had not, the infrastructure is no where near ready.
My i3, collected 02/05/14---44000 miles by 30/05/16