In July, we took delivery of our first EV. It is a Fiat 500e, a direct replacement for our petrol Fiat 500. Over the last 6 months, we’ve learned quite a lot. These notes are primarily for me. And they’re not really in any order.

  • Fiat’s range figures are optimistic. A full battery tells us we have 161 miles of range. We don’t. We have between 113 and 154 miles depending on the temperature and driving conditions. We’ve only been calculating the actual figures for a couple of weeks, so there are still learnings to be had here
  • That unreliable range being shown to us has probably made it a slightly more anxious experience than it needs to be
  • Having the ability to charge at home makes a car with a lower range feasible
  • And switching to Octopus EV has made charging at home pretty cheap - we can add 70% of battery (between 75 and 120 miles) for about £1.50
  • EV owners are a friendly bunch. When standing at a charge point there is often someone prepared to help out a newbie and explain things that otherwise aren’t obvious
  • The public charging infrastructure needs work. There is no joined-up nature to it yet. Different accounts, different apps
  • A combination of Zap-Map and the provider’s app work well. Zap-map to see which chargers are nearby. The provider’s app gives a clear view of if they’re working, in use etc. Some of Zap-map’s data is provided from the network, some provided by users. So checking on the provider app gives a reliable view
  • Some charging points are near green spaces, so we can combine a charge with a dog walk and a leg stretch
  • When route planning we tend to optimise for travel time - so given a selection of routes, we’ll select the fastest. This makes sense if we can do the journey without needing a charge. But in some cases, a shorter distance may take longer to drive but won’t consume as much battery. Meaning we don’t need to stop and recharge
  • A charging stop takes us about 45 minutes. 30 minutes or so to charge. And 10 to 15 minutes to get to the charging point, get the car plugged in, and work out the appropriate payment method
  • The car is fun to drive
  • Staying somewhere with a charging facility makes holidays much more relaxed - even if it does mean hanging a 3 pin plug cable out of the window and accepting that it’s a 10 hour charging time

Overall, it’s been a great experience. I have no regrets. The car suits us really well for most of our journeys (travels around the Sussex countryside and coast). The compromise for infrequent longer journeys is getting easier as we learn more.