ELECTRIC CARS IN BURFORD
In November’s issue of The Bridge, the editors appealed for the opinions of an electric car driver in Burford. As anyone who knows me will attest, I talk of few other things, so I was only too happy to volunteer. I bought my first electric car (a second-hand Renault Zoe) just over a year ago, despite my petrol-head friends’ protestations over its being both electric and French. People are often curious about how exactly it all works, and I’ve been asked to explain some of the basics for The Bridge’s esteemed readership:
What’s the range?
Short answer: about 80 miles. Long answer: My car is first generation; the new models have larger batteries and have about a 200 mile range (and newer Teslas, 350). Motorway driving uses significantly more battery; urban driving uses less.
How long does it take to charge?
This is a hard question to answer, because we almost always charge at home, and just leave it plugged in overnight. In theory this would take three hours from empty to full, but we usually start from around 80% after doing the shopping or seeing friends in Witney. Effectively, as long as your commute is less than 40 miles (and the average round trip commute is only 20) you’d just plug in when you arrive home.
Service station rapid chargers give you a full charge in 30-60 minutes, dependent on the car.
How do you manage longer journeys and do you have a second (petrol) car?
We are an electric-only household. While we tend to stay local, we’ve done a few longish journeys to Mid-Wales, Devon, and Brighton. They tend to require more planning than you might do with a diesel car; if you’re sticking mostly to motorway, it usually involves pulling over every couple of hours for a top-up at the services while grabbing a coffee—which is no great change of habit for me. There are fast chargers at every motorway service station, and more than 9,000 public charge points in the UK, even in far-flung places.
How does one charge a car in the Cotswolds?
We had a home charger installed with a government grant. We’re fortunate to have space by our house for this, and I appreciate not everyone is this lucky. We’ve never needed to charge within twenty miles of our house; however, there is a long stretch of A40 between Cassington and Cheltenham without a fast charger; it would be nice to see one installed near Burford, particularly for visitors and tourists.
In all, we have no intention of going back to petrol. The Zoe is so zippy and fun to drive, our petrol-head friends are looking at electric for their next cars.
West Oxfordshire came near the bottom of the class in a recent survey showing which local authority areas had most or fewest public charging points for electric or hybrid cars. In this part of the world Oxford city has 89 public charging points, South Oxfordshire 38, the Cotswold District of Gloucestershire 33, Cherwell District 30, Vale of White Horse 24 while West Oxfordshire has 15. Still, at least we do better than the Isles of Scilly who don’t have any at all. But then you have to leave your car behind if you go there.
Another reader has contributed the following:
Owning an EV in West Oxfordshire – in response to your request in the last Bridge issue regarding vehicle charging.
As a very happy driver of an electric vehicle and living in Burford, I can confirm that there is a serious lack of charge points in our district. Since switching to electric I am continuing with my normal journeys (many of them long distance) only now needing to do a small amount of planning and research to know the locations of charge points. There have been some moments of ‘range anxiety’ but overall the experience has been brilliant. The sensation of silent travel, the joy of driving past fuel stations and the knowledge of zero tailpipe emissions more than compensate for the minimal effort in charging.
The lack of charge points in WODC however not only affects our residents who drive EV’s or are considering one, but also those from outside the area. The requirements of the various groups differ also, as follows;
Residents: Most EV charging is done at home, however the lack of public chargers presents real issues for locals who are unable to charge their vehicle at home or at the workplace. WODC car parks and roads close to shopping areas, leisure centres and supermarkets are ideal locations for vehicle charging.
Commuters & Travellers: For EV drivers, charging on a journey requires a stop of 45-90mins, these are normally planned with routes selected based on where charge points are located. Well placed charge points can provide an associated benefit through the sale of refreshments and increased customer dwell times that can bring in valuable revenue into the area.
Visitors: Those from outside the area who are visiting our beautiful district will typically spend several hours at one location – this gives the perfect opportunity for an EV driver to charge while they are enjoying the local area. Car parks in these areas and popular destinations such as restaurants and hotels, Burford Garden Company, Cotswold Wildlife Park etc. need to be installing charge points now to maximise this potential!
The case for more charge points in the area is compelling, particularly now when there are network operators who are offering up to 100% funding for installation and operation. A good reference is the work done by our neighbours at Oxford City Council in support of the Low Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan. A plea to WODC and all who are considering installing charge points – to maximise compatibility for EV drivers, please utilise one of the nationwide network operators and mandate contactless payment rather than creating a local bespoke solution…..(imagine not being able to get fuel at an Esso petrol station because you only have a BP card/cash!)
I can absolutely recommend EV’s, it’s a fantastic driving experience and the environmental benefits are huge - just don’t rely on any local public charging (for now!).