UK Big Journey south - 400 mile round trip - in a BEV

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Well-known member
Apr 14, 2014
Hampshire UK
First stop on the Big Journey South was prior to the East Midlands drop off. Before you ask my partner is spending a week with a sibling so I get a free ride with the i3. Left at 3:12.

Trowell Southbound 04:11. We didn’t really need it to get to EMA but I was concerned the slow charger at Donington might be out so opted for a 15 minute splash and dash. Back to 73% in 14 mins 395V and still at 60amps when I pulled the plug.

EMA 04:50 the craziest scheme for short term parking mixed with drop off parking.

Donington 04:57 and time for breakfast , a favourite from our ICE days, but alas charger was fine, I believe it is always on line, away from entrance (why can’t they all be sited so?) but not Rapid, but no breakfast!! Too early. Doh. While here I have first coffee of the day and check the Ecotricity live beta. It shows the point is in use. Not bad. So it does have online comms. A necessity for when they start charging is my guess which judging ny the accuracy of the beta is soon.

Leicester Forest East Southbound – 06:01 Just in time for a full breakfast one minute after they opened. Left at 06:48. Strange for an i3 the Guessometer went to 92 miles. First time I have ever seen it over 70. Never the less in typical fashion it dropped back to 83, still a record, as soon as I switched on. 89 miles in EcoPro+. I am thinking warm batteries and increasing southerly temperature is improving things. I spend a bit of time on the iPad checking where the next stop could be or if I turn round. Consider that Milo Keynes with its swarm of Rapids is a good bet. Fix on one outside the BMW dealer, check its ok on plugshare and set off.

Newport Pagnell 07:46 Decide to stop here and see what it is like as that’ll mean not too much £ at the next one. Rapid is working no one else about and it doesn’t need a card? Has a small fan symbol top right, wireless, and a globe with a red line through. I am thinking it is talking to the WiFi but not the internet. The WiFi in the services is also up but no internet. Guess the router died. So Ecotricity have defaulted to allow charge when no comms which is a good thing. Start on 47% charge 382v 110amps. The sun is out. I correctly sow all the other cables whilst I am waiting. We can’t go on leaving them dragging on the ground.

Milton Keynes Northfield 08:33 Outside the BMW dealer actually in the road almost. No markings to stop ICEing but no-one here today. Cables in a real big mess. The third AC43 cable has no support – just like the one at Wychbold. Must be the same installers or they had a job lot of chargers and no support posts. More like they forgot the mounting position and the concrete base is not big enough. Looks like from the photos that the base is big enough but they put the main unit to far to the right? This has a new Chademo connector with a single yellow button and no trigger to foul up. It’s a DBT unit, Milton Keynes Council and Polar markings. I try charging with my BMWnow card. No idea who that is going to charge – me probably. Anyway it’s an experiment and probably costs me £7.00 if I am reading it right. Check the map again – an I get to Beaconsfield? Will it be working or shall I turn round. Figure that I can get there and back to MK with the improved range I am seeing.

Beaconsfield 09:46. Take the long route round M1/M25/M40 as there are some jams on the A routes and it doesn’t seem to add too much distance. Nice services. Very busy. Frequented by the Police who have their own parking spots around the corner next to the EV slots. Handy I am thinking. The Ecotricity map shows it online but their beta live site says something different. Have anther coffee and calculate that I can now reach Reading without to much bother. After 38 minutes I have 99% according to the post, still at 396v but only 10 amps. This point has the little fan symbol and the globe not crossed out. I didn’t try another RFID. 10:23 Time to go.

Reading Burghfield – Westbound M4 -11:15. Cables all mangled and dangling again. Get some water from Greggs. I think this was reported as down on the Ecotricity map but at this stage I am punch drunk with success and 180 miles from home. Anyway charge is fine. Onwards westward ho. Rather than reversing my journey decide to go west and then north back up the A34 or M5 depending how we get on.

Chievely – 12:20 the missing link. Meet my very first EV of the day. A Nissan LEAF in a brilliant blue. Talked to the owner and his partner. Left hand Chademo is down, as advertised on the beta, CCS is working but he needs five minutes to top off. No bother. He leases direct from Nissan including the batteries £310 a month all included. His partner loves it as se doesn’t have to ask him to stop at the services for a comfort break – because he is going to anyway! Everyone happy. Next stop Membury. Advertised as bust but can reach Cirencester which says up on the @CYC map.

Membury 12:53. Second EV of the day another nice LEAF in black charging on the slower post. The owner tells me mine is nice but hers is better looking! True. Rapid CCS post is iced but bust. RFID card reader “Card in error” failure and it doesn’t have the little fan or globe symbols. Try resetting but it is well and truly bust. Also the ICE drivers can’t really be blamed as the white markings on the road haven’t been painted yet. There is a big post and a no parking sign which I point to and the driver in his vehicle moves – thank you. This would have been a real stress but have enough to reach Cirencester. What a change from the early days tearing hair out…..maybe I have become to complacent as this is my very first fail of the day and I am beyond 200 miles down stream.

Cirencester 13:40. Real nice quite car park. As I learn later has been vandalised a few times but is functional….only the screen is ‘whited’ out. Buttons work and following an experience at Sheffield it can be started by pressing top left and then top right twice. However the menu is probably not the same! It does recognise my @CYC card but I can’t use the app as the password doesn’t work on the iPhone. I did get it to flash blue but probably that was Chademo. I expect a bill for £7 for each of the 5 tries. What now? Cheltenham Chase Hotel is in range but I think it’s busted when I checked yesterday in the CYC app. Subsequently I learn that probably meant another forum member charging there. I think I will go to the new Gloucester South services but I can’t see exactly how far that is as its not on any of may maps. Set off.

Gloucester Services – Southbound 14:26. As a result of a massive regen on the Air Balloon down hill have regained some energy and reach with quite a bit of reserve. There’s a massive puddle behind the charge points. Spend some time working the next step as can’t be sure to get to Wychbold before it shuts. This meant I was so focused on the time that another rookie error was about to occur. I figured that if I could reach Corley North that would be fine if Wychbold was shut. However I couldn’t get across to the north bound carriage way at Gloucester and that would add more miles to go south and back. Never mind I thought I’ll just stop at the other side on the way back up. I then settled for a rather good macaroni cheese and salad lunch with a pot of tea. South to the next junction and then back up.

Gloucester Services – Northbound 15:42. Again it’s a great services and was busy with traffic. Decided to use the AC as I was already pretty full to see if it was any quicker than the DC. In the end I couldn’t tell. Stayed with the vehicle and waited for it to go down to a trickle charge. Packed bags to run for Wychbold. As the weather was even warmer, the guessometer was even more optimistic until we started moving.

Wychbold Garden Centre 16:39. Closing time was at 16:00 and they were all streaming out. Then the rookie error hits. Did I not check and see on @CYC that it was bust….yes I did, only yesterday. Didn’t re-check. No lights on and the emergency button is fastened in with four screws so you can’t access the knob. In an emergency you’d have a job to crack the Perspex. Yikes. Corley is only just in range if I don’t go back down to the junction on the M5 and then north. So turn directly north on ECO pro mode and cruise up to rejoin the M42. Keeping speed down to 65 trundle onwards and arrive with 16% remaining which doesn’t seem a drama really. I am beginning to think we are doing all this on just 60% of our available power. Can’t fill the top 20% on a rapid and daren’t use the bottom 20% due to anxiety. Anyway it’s all good experience to understand this amazing technology and this truly great vehicle.

Corley South 17:25. This is one of Ecotricity points that is always up on their map and on plugshare. This one is on the north side for southbound traffic. The North one on the south side seems permanently bust. There is a way to access the Southbound one from the other side. 361v 110Amps means I am pretty empty. This time another coffe as it is the homeward leg. Courtesy of a well known coffee house with whom I seem to have spent too much money. Not looking forward to the visit to the Leicester Forest point so make sure I have enough to get to Trowell which is also not guaranteed on past experience. Leave a ChargeBump sticker for the elderly couple who fast charge their LEAF.

Leicester Forest East – Northbound 18:37. Thinking of another breakfast but I don’t think I’ll be staying. Same as usual the dreaded “pre charging” stuck error. “COMBO: 0x0022 – PEV incoherent pilot state at cable check” now that’s annoying because everything else has worked excepting CYC. So Ecotricity its not the car its THAT post. As I have enough charge escape northwards to Trowell after tidying the cables again. I think the LEAF people have to start doing it as the cables are going to get damaged.

Trowell Northbound 19:11. No other EVs. Cables a mess. LEAF on a dolley arrives and departs on a flat bed having been cross loaded by the AA. Leave at 19:52 with more than enough to get back to Sheffield.

Morrisons Sheffield 20:37. A new set of four posts with two type two 7kw on each. Installed by elektrobay but none of my cards makes them work. Car park is empty at this time of day so they are not iced and I resort to email to ask how to use them.

Finally home at 20:49. Not quite bust the tachograph at 8:53, 434 miles. Average 4.0 mi/kWh and 50mph.

Next Scotland.
Thank you for these details. Some of it will be handy on my REx trip from Midlands to Germany soon. I'll try and keep REx usage to a minimum.