Electric cars may be good for the planet but they are terrible for your nerves

So how was Christmas for you? Have you spent a large chunk of the last 10 days trying to get from one relative to another across the UK’s increasingly unreliable and congested road network? Were you stuck in a never-ending traffic jam on the M25, or M5, or M40 or M6 or M42 (select as appropriate)? It doesn’t matter where you try and drive, it’s always the same crawling-along drill, GoogleMaps intoning: “There is a 20-minute delay, you are on the fastest route”. But while we all share this pain, there is a special circle of hell reserved for those of us doing festive visits in an electric car.

The news this morning that the government has massively missed its target for installing charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service stations – there are meant to be at least six in all of them but the RAC reckons only two in five services have them in place – was greeted in my house with a massive groan. It is not news to us, or any UK EV driver, that the charging infrastructure is woefully inadequate. We all have the scars to prove it. Take my friend who was driving to Scotland in his Tesla, he got to the Wirral to find all the Tesla charging points taken or broken, with the nearest ones at Preston. He limped there to discover three other drivers already waiting and not wanting to wait three hours just to get on a charger, got a lift from a friend and abandoned his car for the weekend.

Or take my Christmas visit to my mother-in-law in Bromsgrove. She’s getting on and doesn’t walk so well, so we drive up to her sheltered housing and take her out for lunch. That used to be fine. In our old BMW X3, we’d nip up there from London in just over a couple of hours, the same back. Not any more. Our beloved electric Nissan Leaf (bought three years ago) has a range of just over 100 miles (less if we have the heating on or it is a cold day when electric cars consume more energy). That means to get to Bromsgrove we have to stop and charge for at least 45 minutes both on the way there and the way back. Turning a two-and-a-half-hour trip into a three-and-a-half-hour trip (if we’re lucky).


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