Can you have an electric car without a home charger?

The short answer is yes; absolutely!

Not only do we have a car without a charger; the electric car is our only family car. We used to have a car each, but that was in the beforetimes when working from home wasn’t a thing. Now we work out who needs the car and coordinate work, after school activities, shopping and social engagements. It works surprisingly well, and we now do things more as a family instead of alone, and we pack more things into one trip, for example I often visit the allotment on the way to work, and we have a town day on Wednesday, where we do everything we need to do in town on one day of the week.

We’ve further cut our ties from convenience by closing our account with Shell; the closest ultra-rapid charger to home, because they’re threatening to take Greenpeace to court for £100,000 (alleged damage and intimidation aboard an oil platform that was setting out for an oil and gas field in the North Sea). We also try to avoid BP charging stations as they’re greenwashing whilst letting their climate promises slip. Both companies recently announced record profits. We believe that every purchase is a vote.

We’ve had our Kia eNiro 64kWh for just over 2 years now, and have never had a home charger, or even an outdoor plug for emergencies. We’ve only ever nearly run out of power once – coming back from Cambridge (because Cambridge city is a black-spot for rapid car charging; fine for residents but a nightmare for visitors) and finding the services on the A14 had absolutely no signal; so nobody could make payment for anything and the chargers were all not working. I got to a friend’s house and plugged in to their 3-pin until there was enough to get to the nearest charger. In comparison to petrol; this beats asking for a lift to the garage, buying a plastic fuel can and carrying the stinky thing back in your mate’s nice clean car! Even at the current cap of 34p per kWh it would cost that friend £1.02 per hour, and for less than the price of a pint you’ve got enough charge to get to a rapid charger!

The Kia eNiro charges off a 3-pin plug at 3kW, an AC charger at up to 11kW, and a DC charger (ie. the local Shell garage) at up to 77kW. The chargers in town are mostly 7kW and generally give us around 10% per hour, so arriving in town with 30% means that after 4 hours it’s up to a comfortable 70%. That’s just enough time for a yoga lesson, lunch, doing a week’s shop at the refill shop, a visit to the library and a couple of other errands. Lithium batteries like to be maintained around 50% so actually, leaving the car plugged in charging to 100% every night is really bad for the battery. Unless we’re planning a long journey the next day we never charge to full; the car even has a handy setting to stop charging at 80%.

So, generally we charge at our destination; most weeks in town while I do the shopping, or wherever we’re going for a day out – Park & Rides, National Trust properties, pubs/restaurants often have chargers, or if you’re visiting a town there’s usually something within a few minutes’ walk from your destination. When going on a long journey (Cambridgeshire to Devon, for example) we plan our route with charge points at toilet or food stops. It takes around 45 minutes to charge from 20% up to 80% and that’s enough time for a toilet stop, something to eat, a quick leg-stretch and then we’re off again. Our favourite stop is a family-run vineyard, shop and cafe in Honiton; but it’s getting so popular I won’t name it here – you’ll have to discover it for yourself! When a site only has a couple of chargers it’s a bit of a gamble and occasionally you’ll have to wait in a queue. But once one car finishes, the next plugs in, and generally there’s chat about saving the planet, how nice it is not to have to change gears and beating boy racers off the lights.

The good news is that the government plans to increase charge points tenfold by 2030 ( so things will only get easier.

Would we go back to a petrol or diesel car, or would we even consider a hybrid? No way! Driving an electric car has been such an unexpected joy; of course charging is slower than filling up but journeys are more enjoyable, social, mindful and let’s not forget – less CO2 emitting!

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