June 27th & 28th 2015 sees the inaugural Formula E championship come to London for the final two races.

Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship. The season started in Beijing in September 2014 and comprises of 11 races in 10 cities around the world. 10 teams, with two drivers each, race on temporary street circuits. See www.fiaformulae.com for more details.

EVIOM will be attending the final race on Sunday 28th June. We'll be traveling down to London in our two Nissan Leafs. While planning the trip and during the journey we'll be blogging about the practicalities and issues we face along the way. From using the UK charging stations, real life range on motorways and what you'll need to consider if you're wanting to make a similar journey. Whatever we come across on the way, good or bad, we'll keep you updated on this blog.

Travelling 220 miles in a car that has a maximum theoretical range of 124 miles (downhill with the wind behind you and being pushed by pixies) is clearly the first obstacle we thought of when planning our trip to London.

A car with 5 people and luggage for a 5 day holiday will probably use a fair bit of battery juice at motorway cruising speeds. Probably. I've never tried it before...

Ecotricity's motorway network seems to be the answer with their Electric Highway. They've focused on installing Rapid chargers in motorway service stations. The main issue with many of the UK schemes, as far as I can tell, is their regional nature. Traveling from one side of the country to the other is still a bit daunting. To get a free Ecotricity card simply complete the registration form online and they'll send you a card to use at their charging point, or "electricity pumps" as they call them.

routePlanning the route came next. Sounds simple, Liverpool to London, just point yourself at the motorway and head south. The trouble is I had no idea if there were enough charging points in the right locations to complete the journey and complete it without the dreaded "range anxiety". Luckily for us as I sat down in front of Google Maps to start planning the route I saw a Tweet from Plugsharetelling me about their new route planner! Result. Put in your start point and destination and the route planner shows you all charging points within a defined radius of your route. It turns out there are plenty of rapid charge points (charge to 80% in 20-30 minutes) along our route. I would urge you to check out their site at plugshare.com and the mobile app.

Of course for peace of mind it would be nice to start our journey with 100% charge. The drive to the boat is all downhill for one of us but for the other the drive over the mountain will use at least 20%. At the recent EV Users Forum held at the Green Centre it was mentioned that the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company will let you charge on the boat. Having enquired when I first bought the Leaf and not getting a very positive response I had my doubts. But after contacting the IoMSPCo I have to say that they couldn't have been more helpful! They have the capacity on the Manannan to charge up to eight EVs on the main car deck. These are "Ceeform" or "Blue Commando" style connections. Using our so called "Granny Cable" we can connect to these. They have even offered to make up adaptors so people can connect their cables with domestic 3-pin plugs on the end. So a BIG thank you to them for being so accommodating. Thats a good two and a half hours charge which should get the car back to 100%.

 

Gentlemen, start your engines! Just press the 'on' switch...

IMG_0415Tickets booked, Ecotricity, Charge Your Car & Source London cards at the ready and batteries fully charged. Eva and Pearl have been cleaned, polished and are ready to go. On an EV there's only really tyre pressures and washer fluid to get ready.

The aim is to start in Douglas and head for the Manannan that departs at 7:30. Both cars will be leaving with 100% so won't really need charging on the journey but as the charge points and crew are fairly new to charging EVs on the crossing it would be good to test them. An unplanned trip across in Eva last month due toEcotricityCard a bereavement saw some problems with the Manannan's EV charge sockets tripping which meant we arrived in Liverpool with only 55% showing on the dash. Although it was disappointing not to get a top up on the boat I must say that the crew couldn't have been more helpful in trying to resolve the problem. For our return journey everything was working perfectly. Ikea Warrington on the M62 is only 16 miles from the docks and is the first rapid charger on the motorway.

The whole journey of 218 miles has been planned to allow for rapid chargers that are faulty. In total we should only have to stop 4 times but traveling with 3 children including a baby even the longest range ICE would be stopping every five minutes for toilet breaks, nappy changes and feeding times. The kids won't be much better either. I seem to be determined to prove that an EV can be a practical family car, I'm just not sure who I'm trying to prove it to.

Watch this blog for a rolling updates of our electric journey. I'll try to keep the talk of baby bowel movements to a minimum and focus on the Electric Highway.

Not a great start to the day for the weather but all the family is up, breakfasted and we've set sail for Liverpool.

Car DeckAsking for an electric hookup on the boat caused a little confusion and some IoMSPCo staff thought that some of the charge points had been removed because of the changes to the Manannan's deck for TT. But all turned out well and both Eva and Pearl are below deck charging happily.

 

We have some videos to upload as soon as we get access to some WiFi.

Our first stop from the boat (a conservative stop, we've got plenty in) at Knutsford Services. Unfortunately one of the Rapids isn't working so Pearl is in a queue behind Eva. 

 

We reported the fault to Ecotricity but they already knew.

Warwick Services now. Both chargers working OK and a mob of people asking some great questions about the car and Ecotricity. 

We should have reached our Hotel by now but the traffic has been horrendous! Walking pace at best for the past hour. We would have had these problems EV or ICE. At least we weren't using any fuel while stationary.

Now for a quick charge and a quick bite.

All getting very tired now but the traffic has eased up and easily cruising at 70mph. 

Now hanging at Oxford Services. An Outlander PHEV on the other rapid means there's a queue but Pearl is waiting while on slow charger.