Sometimes people go on long distance EV trips to prove they can be done (see the father and daughter US coast to coast trip). Sometimes people go on long distance EV trips to take part in an event (see our involvement with WAVE). And sometimes people go on long EV trips to break records (see Tesla’s coast to coast or Racing Green’s pan-American highway trip).
And sometimes people go on long distance EV trips in the mistaken belief that it is novel, edgy and impressive.
Today I stumbled across a video from Pod Point about their CatUK event – That’s ‘Charging around the UK’. From the 11th to the 27th June, this event will see a team from Pod Point, a UK charging provider, driving 2000 miles in 17 days, attending 15 events along route while visiting the ‘four corners’ of the UK; That’s Land’s End, John O’Groats, somewhere and somewhere else.
Pod Point have been installing EV charging stations in the UK for the past three years and in that time have – according to their website – installed 1096 charging ‘bays’ and supplied 10,353,655kWh of energy.
However as with many charging networks, their reputation isn’t as clean as they would like having been dubbed ‘Pod Pointless’ in many online forums. In my own experience there is a charging station down the road from me that was installed over three years ago. It has never worked. Not once. The host site doesn’t know what is happening and Pod Point defers to them. I’m not sure where the fault lies – it may not be Pod Point’s fault – but it is on their network and it is not a good data point. This, I admit, may be colouring my view of their ‘journey’.
Pod Point will be making this CatUK trip in a Renault ZOE – at least if the video is anything to go by. The Renault ZOE is a good choice for this type of trip, allowing them to charge from any power source they find along the way. Interestingly it is not clear if this this trip is being made solely by using Pod Point’s own charging network as some of the events are being held at locations that have charging stations from other providers.
However the use of the Renault ZOE for this trip would mean they would be able to take advantage of the ZOE’s charging flexibility and charge from 22kW charging stations (that’s 32A at three-phase). These would fully re-charge the ZOE in around an hour and 20 minutes and means they wouldn’t have to rely on rapid AC chargers such as those installed by Ecotricity – another provider in the UK – as they would if they chose to do the trip in, say, the Nissan LEAF.
The events are open to the public with a wide variety of interesting, and sometimes strange, goings on to watch or take part in. In Swindon see Domino’s race some Renault Twizys to the centre of the city and then try to break the world record for number of pizzas made in an hour. Or maybe pop along to Aviemore to watch a mountain biker race the Funicular railway down the CairnGorm Mountain while on an electric bike.
Maybe it’s just the video for this event that has turned me off to it. It makes it look like they’re attempting the impossible, taking on a challenge so wild that only a mad man would do it. But as we all know trips like this happen fairly regularly in the world of electric cars. And that doesn’t even go into the argument of if these events are actually good at promoting the cars themselves. The fact that they are a challenge shows that the cars are not designed for this type of use. As our friend Chelsea Sexton has said before, driving long distance in an EV is like cooking a turkey in a microwave, it’s not the right tool for the job.
But the actual events being held by CatUK could be good in and of themselves. They don’t need the gimmick of the 2000 mile trip. If anything, saying that you are travelling 2000 miles in 17 days shows how ill-suited EVs are to that type of journey and works against the wider message of the event. After all, 2000 miles in 17 days is just 177.6 miles each day and that’s not really a lot. In the WAVE trip that Transport Evolved is covering, we will be driving around 2800 miles in 14 days.
It’s the events that matter. Getting people to see the cars, to test drive the cars, to see them as a real life option for them. By all means, make the journey from location to location in an EV, but don’t make that the focus of the whole campaign.
Have a look at the video below and let us know what you think about CatUK. Will the long distance EV trip help? Are they a distraction?
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