It’s high time we had smarter info to help us find an empty, working charger – 12 April
Such is the way with the UK’s charging infrastructure that I’ve had two vastly different experiences recently, one at Hopwood Park services just south of Birmingham and the other at Rugby services on the M6. The former is old infrastructure, the latter is new.
At Hopwood, there’s a vast bank of Tesla Superchargers, naturally, but only two 50kW Gridserve units: one with two CCS charge cables, the other with one CCS and one Chademo. The thing I never realised, in my ignorance, is that the current is split at some of these older charger stations, so if you have two cars plugged in, you’ll only get 25kW of juice. So even once you’ve queued up for an hour (and I did), you’re then staring down the barrel of a two-hour-plus charge to get going again.
Rugby was a ray of sunshine in comparison – loads of chargers and only a single cable per unit so you get the full whack of input. Although, weirdly, the Enyaq maxed out at 50kW, which is a long way short of its maximum of 135kW. Our sibling title What Car? has another Enyaq on test and it has absorbed electricity at a faster rate, so maybe our battery wasn’t pre-conditioned.
Some of the blame for this could be laid at my door, because I hadn’t properly planned my journey so I simply pulled in when I knew I’d need to top up. But the counter-argument is that I was using the Skoda navigation, so it should have known I was going to stop. After all, it pings when you hit 20% and gives you a few choices of where to head to for a top-up.
If only this information was smart. The car gives you options of possible chargers but doesn’t tell you how busy they are or how many are working. So I ended up driving around a few locations, wasting more time, trying to find chargers in vast car parks and then realising they weren’t working.
This criticism could be levelled at most EVs. But that doesn’t make it any less valid. Work needs to be done by charging companies and car manufacturers. The data is out there. It just needs to be synched.