EV Ownership in Ireland – A 2 month Review
By John l’estrange
Some years ago there was a travel blog I followed called “Drive Nacho, Drive”. It was the adventures of a newly married couple who bought an old VW Van, converted it to a camper and were using it to drive around the world. I eagerly awaited each instalment and the escapades they would encounter in trying to keep the old bus going. Rebuilding wheel bearings on the side of a dusty road, changing the clutch at the side of a remote cantina, trying to smuggle spare parts through Bolivian customs; it all made for a hugely entertaining read. Until they got to Thailand and discovered the prevalent practice in Asia of swapping out the old VW engine for a newer Subaru one. After that, the breakdowns, the resulting drama and eventually my interest, decreased significantly. Nothing was going wrong anymore, so it just became another travel blog. If problems create drama, my EV experience so far has been seriously mundane. What has been exciting however, is getting to grips with a new technology, changing my driving style and becoming an advocate for a new style of transport.
I was nervous in making my purchase. All the anecdotal negativity that I’d read over the past few years came flooding to the forefront of my mind: the battery won’t last, the rain will break it, the charging network isn’t fit for purpose, I’ll be stranded on the roadside. The reality so far, has been very different. I had a charger installed at home which I have used to top up the battery every 2 or 3 days, there’s never been a time where I was close to running out of power and so far it’s been a seamless transition across.
When I first started driving, I was watching my consumption like a hawk. Range anxiety was very real as I didn’t trust the little readout telling me I had 200 km left in the battery. I was driving on Eco mode everywhere and afraid to accelerate. The central screen shows your average consumption and gives you an efficiency score which I was rabidly focused on keeping above 90%. As I settled into the day to day, this fixation lessened until it is now no longer an issue. I don’t put it in eco mode at all anymore, I drive like a normal human being and I’ve yet to drop below 10% charge.
The car I bought, a Renault Zoe, has a 41 kwh battery that is good for 300 km in average conditions. My usage so far has seen its capable of about 270 km of my driving. This may well lessen off in colder conditions but will still be more than enough for me. I’ve only had one trip so far that required use of the Public charging network. That was down to Tipperary, and we all know it’s a long way. I used 55% of the battery going down so I needed to charge somewhere for my return journey. I planned on getting a bite to eat along the line so I dropped into McDonalds in Roscrea and topped up the battery while I ate. I came back out to find I was up to 70% charge – more than enough to get me home. This is another aspect of EV ownership I hadn’t expected: you only need enough to get you where you’re going. It’s a very different mentality than driving a conventionally fuelled car. All I needed was enough to get home where I could recharge overnight. There is no pulling into Fuel Stations and carrying days worth of fuel around with you all the time; you can instead wake up to a fully fuelled car every day.
On the charging end of things, I have the luxury of off street parking and installed a Zappi charger. An SEAI grant of €600 covers a lot of this cost. I also went to a day/night ESB tariff. The installation of a new meter was free and the cost is now 18c per kWh day time and 9c per kWh during the night. I’ve only ever charged during the night time. If I was reliant on the Public Network at the moment, I don’t know if I would have found things as easy.
So, from a cost point of view, here’s the breakdown. I’ve driven 3791 km in total. I have charged a total of 631 kWh of electricity. If I’m paying 9c per kWh this works out at 1.5c per km. In addition, 3791 km in 60 days means I’m averaging 63km per day or 23,000 km per year. This is in excess of the national average of 18,000 km for a private car, according to the CSO. If these averages play out as expected over the next 12 months, my yearly driving will cost me €345 in electricity. The average driver would expect to pay €270 per year. This is, coincidentally, the exact amount I used to pay for road tax on my old diesel.
My switch to an Electric Vehicle hasn’t been dramatic or exciting in the conventional sense. It has been fairly seamless, if a bit of a learning curve. What has been thoroughly enjoyable though, is being an accidental advocate for electric transport. I’ve had countless conversations with curious people and hopefully been able to put the negative myths to one side for some. I, for one, will never return to an internal combustion engine. The future is electric.
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