Living with an Electric Vehicle


My first 3,500 miles with a Renault Zoe (22kW), it’s certainly been a non-stop roller coaster of mixed emotions !

It’s been an interesting start to EV ownership, firstly with the purchase and then the operation, running & charging. Firstly, the all-important purchase part, this entailed several weeks of eBay, Autotrader and the like with masses of homework on which model to go for. In the end a Renault Zoe with no battery lease was the model of choice, colour was not at the top of the wish list so that made things a bit simpler. As luck would have it exactly the right model with only 8,700 miles on the clock arrived at a dealer very near to me. A deal was quickly done (non-lease Zoe’s don’t turn up that often, you have to move quickly) and I became the proud owner of my first EV.

However, on picking up the Zoe I noticed that it only had 8 miles of range left in the battery, the dealer had yet to have a charger fitted and I live 7 miles away ! A very steady drive home saw me reach ‘limp mode’ for the first and only time and I only just managed to reach a public charger with 1 mile to go…

So, after that incident it was all good, we had our EV charger fitted (a Zappi, heartily recommended) at home to use any surplus solar to keep the Zoe topped up and use when required. A service and MOT came along (very reasonable for both) and a LOT less than a petrol or diesel car. No car tax either, which is nice.

The big bonus from living in Northumberland and having an electric vehicle is the number of free charging points dotted around the county. This has meant that I have only spent £17 to cover 3,500 miles – how cheap is that ! It won’t last I’m sure, but at the moment it’s probably cheaper than running bicycle.

Add in the fact that there has been a significant increase in interest in EVs and the fact that it’s a battery owned model and not a battery lease model means that the little Zoe is actually worth more now than when I bought it ! Quite remarkable and a sign of the times that EVs are starting to take off in the UK.

So it’s worked for me, I have a short commute to work, access to another car (a Kia E Niro EV) if I need to go further afield as the 22kW Zoe only has a short range. It fits my needs perfectly, I have access to numerous free chargers both near where I work and where I live and I can charge of surplus solar at home. I guess it’s not for everyone, I have off-street parking so can charge at home & I can charge for free locally. It’s very frustrating when you get to a car charger to see it occupied, especially if you are down to single figures of range but one thing owning an EV has taught me is to be a little patient.

However, if you are thinking of going for an EV – just do it ! You won’t look back and you’ll wonder how you could afford to keep shovelling all that fuel in to your ‘old school’ car… No messy hands, or smelly diesel fumes, just clean east to use electricity.

Here’s our 2 x EVs –

Two electric vehiclesBryan’s electric vehicles

Bryan Dixon is the lead for grid related projects at Narec DE. He’s currently working on technical advice to local businesses through the ERDF funded eGrid project as well as delivering consultancy on large scale energy storage, including an 87MW grid balancing battery.

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