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authorDaniel Silverstone <dsilvers@digital-scurf.org>2018-02-14 21:17:46 +0000
committerDaniel Silverstone <dsilvers@digital-scurf.org>2018-02-14 21:17:46 +0000
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Journey of doom
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+[[!meta title="Epic Journey in my Ioniq"]]
+[[!meta author="Daniel Silverstone"]]
+[[!meta date="2018-02-14 21:20:00"]]
+
+This weekend just-gone was my father's 90th birthday, so since we don't go to
+Wales very often, we figured we should head down to visit. As this would be
+our first major journey in the Ioniq (I've done Manchester to Cambridge a few
+times now, but this is almost 3 times further) we took an additional day off
+(Friday) so that we could easily get from our home in southern Manchester to my
+parent's house in St Davids, Pembrokeshire.
+
+I am not someone to enter into these experiences lightly. I spent several
+hours consulting with [zap-map][] and also Google maps, looking at chargers
+en-route. In the UK there's a significant number of chargers on the motorway
+system provided by [Ecotricity][] but this infrastructure is not pervasive and
+doesn't really extend beyond the motorway service stations (and some IKEAs). I
+made my plan for the journey to Wales, ensuring that each planned stop was
+simply the first in a line of possible stops in order that if something went
+wrong, I'd have enough charge to move forwards from there.
+
+First leg took us from our home to the Ecotricity charger at Hilton Park
+Southbound services. My good and dear friend Tim very kindly offered to charge
+us for free and he used one of his fifty-two free charges to top us up. This
+went flawlessly and set us in a very good mood for the journey to come. Since
+we would then have a very long jump from the M5 to the M4, we decided that our
+second charge would be to top-up at [Chateau Impney][] which has a [Polar][]
+charger. Unfortunately by this point the wind and rain were up and the charger
+failed to work properly, eventually telling us that its input voltages were
+unbalanced and then powering itself off entirely. We decided to head to the
+other Polar charger at [Webbs of Wychbold][]. That charger started up fine so
+we headed in, had a loo visit, grabbed some lunch, watched the terrapins
+swimming around, and when a sufficient time had passed for the car to charge,
+headed back only to discover that it had emergency-stopped mere moments after
+we'd left the car, so we had no charge for the entire time we were there. No
+matter we thought - we'd sit in the car while it charged, and eat our lunch.
+Sadly we were defeated, the charger repeatedly e-stopped, so we gave up.
+
+Our fallback position was to charge at the Strensham services at the M5/M50
+junction. Sadly the southbound services have no chargers at all (they're under
+a lot of building work right now, so perhaps that's part of it) so we had to
+get to the northbound services and charge there. That charge went fine, and
+with a £2.85 bill from Ecotricity automatically paid, we snuck our way along
+back-roads and secret junctions to the southbound services, and headed off down
+the M50. Sadly we're now a lot later than we should have been, having lost
+about ninety minutes in total to the wasted time at the two Polar chargers,
+which meant that we hit a lot of congestion at Monmouth and around Newport on
+the M4.
+
+We made it to Cardiff Gate where we plugged in, set it charging, and then
+headed into the service area where we happened to meet my younger brother who
+was heading home too. He went off, and I looked at the Ecotricity app on my
+phone which had decided at that point that I wasn't charging at all. I went
+out to check, the charger was still delivering current, so, chalking it up to
+a bit of a de-sync, we went in, had a coffee and a relax, and then headed out
+to the car to wait for it to finish charging. It finished, we unplugged, and
+headed out. But to this day I've not been charged by Ecotricity for that
+so "yay".
+
+Our final stop along the M4 was Swansea West. Unfortunately the Pont Abraham
+services don't have a rapid charger compatible with my car so we have to stop
+earlier. Fortunately there are three chargers at Swansea West. Unfortunately
+the CCS was plugged into an i3 which wasn't charging but was set to keep the
+connector locked in so I couldn't snarf it. I plugged into a slower (AC)
+charger to get a bit of juice while we went in to wait for the i3 owner to
+leave. I nipped out after 10 minutes and conveniently they'd gone, so I
+swapped the car over to the CCS charger and set it going. 37 minutes later and
+that charger had actually worked, charged me up, and charged me a princely
+£5.52 for the privilege.
+
+From here we nipped along the A48/A40, dropped in on my sister-in-law to
+collect a gift for my father, and then got to St Davids at around nine pm. A
+mere eleven hours after we left Manchester. By comparison, when I drove a
+Passat, I would leave Manchester at 3pm, drive 100 fewer miles, and arrive at
+around 9pm, having had a few nice stops for loo breaks and dinner.
+
+Saturday it had been raining quite hard overnight, St Davids has one (count it,
+*ONE*) charger compatible with my car (type 2 in this instance) but fortunately
+it's free to use (please make donation in the tourist-information-office).
+Unfortunately after the rain, the parking space next to the charger was under a
+non-trivial amount of water, so poor Rob had to mountaineer next to the charger
+to plug in without drowning. We set the car charging and went to have a nice
+breakfast in St Davids. A few hours later, I wandered back up to the car park
+with Rob and we unplugged and retrieved the car. Top marks for the charger,
+but a pity the space was a swimming pool.
+
+Sunday morning dawned bright and early we headed out to Llandewi Velfrey to
+visit my brother who runs [Silverstone Green Energy][]. We topped up there and
+then headded to Sarn Parc at his suggestion. It's a nice service area,
+unfortunately the AC/Chademo charger was giving 'Remote Start Error' so the
+Leaf there was on the Chademo/CCS charger. However as luck would have it, that
+charger was on free-vend, so once we got on the charger (30m later or so) we
+got to charge for free. Thanks Ecotricity.
+
+From Sarn Parc, we decided that since we'd had such a good experience at
+Strensham North, we'd go directly there. We arrived with 18m to spare in the
+"tank" but unfortunately the CCS/Chademo charger was broken (with an error
+along the lines of `PWB1 is 0x0008`) and there was an eGolf there which also
+had wanted to use CCS but had to charge slowly in order to get enough range to
+get to another charger. As a result we had to sit there for an hour to wait
+for him to have enough in his 'tank' that he was prepared to let us charge. We
+then got a "full" 45 minute charge (£1.56, 5.2kWh) which gave us enough to get
+north again to Chateau Impney (which had been marked working again on Zap-map).
+
+The charge there worked fine (yay) so we drove on north to Keele services. We
+arrived in the snow/hail/rain (yay northern weather) found the charger, plugged
+in, tried to set it going using the app, and we were told "Unable to contact
+charger". So I went through the process again and we were told "Charger in
+use". It bloody well wasn't in use, because I was plugged into it and it
+definitely wasn't charging my car. We waited for the rain to die down again
+and looked at the charger, which at that moment said "Connect vehicle" and then
+it started up charging the car (yay). We headed in for a loo and dinner break.
+Unfortunately the app couldn't report on progress but it had started charging
+so we were confident we'd be fine. More fool us. It had stopped charging
+moments after we'd left the car and once again we wasted time because it wasn't
+charging when we thought it was. We returned, discovered the car hadn't
+charged, but then discovered the charger had switched to free-vend so we
+charged up again for free, but that was another 40 minute wait.
+
+Finally we got home (via a short stop at the pub) and on Monday I popped along
+to a [GMEV][] rapid charger, and it worked perfectly as it has every single
+time I've used it.
+
+So, in conclusion, the journey was reasonably cheap, which is nice, but we had
+two failed charge attempts on Polar, and several Ecotricity cockups (though
+they did mostly end up in our favour in terms of money) which cost us around 90
+to 120 minutes in each direction. The driving itself (in the Ioniq) was fine
+and actually meant I wasn't frazzled and unhappy the whole time, but the
+charging infrastructure is simply not good enough. It's unreliable, Ecotricity
+don't have support lines at the weekend (or evenings/early mornings), and is
+far too sparse to be useful when one wishes to travel somewhere not on the
+motorway network. If I'd tried to drive my usual route, I'd have had to spend
+four hours in Aberystwyth using my granny charger to put about 40 miles in the
+tank from a public 3 pin socket.
+
+
+[zap-map]: https://www.zap-map.com/
+[Ecotricity]: https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/
+[Chateau Impney]: http://www.chateau-impney.com/
+[Polar]: https://polar-network.com/
+[Webbs of Wychbold]: https://www.webbsdirect.co.uk/
+[Silverstone Green Energy]: https://www.silverstonegreenenergy.co.uk/
+[GMEV]: http://ev.tfgm.com/