Does size matter?

I was watching a YouTube video the other day and it got me thinking. Is there an incorrect focus on battery capacity? Should the focus be more on the efficiency of the EV? I don’t know of anyone who went to buy a fossil car who asked “How big is the fuel tank?”. On the other hand, I do know a lot who ask “What is the l/100Km (mpg)?”. Come to think of it, I can’t recall ever asking “How far can I drive on a full tank?” either. 

There is a fundamental problem here. Consumers, and dealers, are fixated on battery capacity instead of the more important efficiency of the car. Think of the Tesla Model S for a moment. P60, P75, P90, P100. All based on battery capacity. Yet the Tesla isn’t really so efficient, I think somewhere over 22kWh/100Km. Imagine if you went into a fossil car showroom and they said, “This SUV has a 60ltr tank, or you can have this one with a 100ltr”  then you go down the road and the dealer says there “This city car has a 34ltr tank” and you never asked how much fuel it actually used. Maybe the SUV is using 15ltr/100Km, and the city car is using 7ltr/100km. Which is really better when you consider all factors, such as cost of fuel in addition to range? 

My Ioniq has a usable battery capacity of 28kWh, I understand there is actually more, but its a sort of buffer/reserve. This is currently giving me a range of about 200Km, and then with a rapid charger I can refill in 20 minutes or so, depending on charge level, to 94%.  In comparison, the new Nissan Leaf has a 40kWh and according to the Nissan Germany website a consumption of 20.6kWh/100Km. (I will say here I am surprised it is so much, I had expected more in the region of 16kWh/100Km). Ignoring the reduced charging times due to non-existent thermal management, the Leaf takes 40-60 minutes to reach 80% after an official 415 km on from a full charge (again according to the Nissan Germany website). The website does say its possible to charge to 100% at normal speed. So a bit of simplified maths, to cover 800Km at 100Kmh.

Leaf = 8hrs driving @100Kmh +  2 x 60 minutes charging (Total 10hrs)
400km on the initial charge, then 2 charges of 80% (320Km) to reach destination

Ioniq = 8hrs driving @100Kmh + 4 x 20 minutes charging (Total 9hrs 20mins)
200km on the initial charge, then 4 charges of 94% (188Km) to reach destination

Now, before anyone says anything, yes these figures are unrealistic as for the last charge it wouldn’t be really required for the Leaf to charge to 80% but I am ignoring the Leafs reduced charge rates of only 14Kw with a hot battery. Also I took the WLTP range for the Leaf, not a real world value, and for the Ioniq I took the range shown on my car a few days ago, rather than the (unavailable) WLTP value. The calculations also take no account for breaks or whatever, but the point is, even with a smaller battery and more stops, the better efficiency makes a real difference.

So returning to my original point, shouldn’t we be focusing on efficiency when talking about EV’s and not the capacity of the battery?

The second area that also needs to be addressed is charging rate. The Ioniq can charge at up to 70Kw, the Tesla Supercharger up to 120Kw the Leaf and Ampera-e up to 50Kw and the Zoe up to 43Kw. Sounds good in principle. Realistically the Ampera-e and Leaf charge a lot slower, I am sure I read the e-Golf tops out at about 40Kw. The Zoe can charge at up to 43Kw 400V three phase AC 63A. However, at least where I live, most Type 2 chargers are 240V AC three phase 32A or 22Kw.

Charger speeds are increasing however. When you look at the next generation 350Kw rapid chargers from Ionity it is clear that in the future charging will be quicker. Lets hoe they install enough chargers. It is already an issue with cars blocking the chargers, EV that are not charging or have completed charging, or fossil cars that are just parked in EV charging bays. I do sometimes worry if the next generation Porsche Mission E cars will use the rapid chargers as personal parking spaces.

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St. Johann in Tirol

Today we just went for a short drive of about 263Km. We went exclusively over main roads, avoiding all motorways and fast route. When we set off we had an indicated range of 224Km and by the time we arrived in St Johann in Tirol we had 121Km left and a consumption of about 9.8kWh/100Km which is one of the bast I had had. We plugged into a slow charger whilst we went for a walk, and a very bad meal. We left an hour later with a range of 158Km and on the way back at one point our consumption had dropped to 7.2kWh/100Km before climbing again to end up at 9.2kWh/100Km when we parked up at home.  The weather was dry and temperature around 18-22C.


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“Auf diese Steine können Sie bauen“

Another day,  another trip. This time to Schwäbisch Hall in Baden-Württemberg. We left at around 9am with a full charge and a range of about 215Km. We drove along the A8 direction Stuttgart keeping up with the flow of the traffic. Usually I like to go at about 110Km on the motorway, its a good compromise between speed and fuel saving. Having said that, this stretch of motorway is very fast, and has a lot of slow moving lorries, the result is that there is a tendency to go faster and faster. I can say the Ioniq electric can move at 180Kmh, but the power soon gets drained. So we pulled off at Ulm and went to IKEA to get a free charge and something to eat. We arrived at about 10;:30 and spent about a 75 minutes charging. The Ikea charger was 20Kh so in the time there we went from 18% to 65% charge. Next we went to Wiesensteig which has beautiful wood framed houses, stopping on route at a fast charger at A8 Nellingen, I have stopped here before and had nothing but problems with the charger. Today was no different. I started the charge session with the eCharge app, and of course charging didnt start. Tried again and again the charger reported and error said charging had stopped, but in fact it did charge for 9 minutes, and then stopped. I appear to have been charge for only one session, but its so hard to tell with the terrible echarge app. Anyway we had a few more kWh of power soon to Goppingen to a charger that is in the Ioniq Navigation. It turns out this charger is in the park place for the upper management of a company and the parking place is marked as Reserved for CEO (or similar). Strangely, the charger isn’t on any of the standard charger maps, such as Going Electric, plug share, new motion etc, so I wonder if it is actually a private charger. As there were no signs to the contrary, we plugged in and had another free charge. I have not seen this type of charger before in Germany, but have
seen videos of one in the Vlog of TeslaBjorn.

The next stop was in park house P6 in Schwäbisch Hall. This is a type 2 charger, and again, free, and for 2 hours the parking cost €3. The town is well worth a visit with its old buildings. In some ways it reminded me of Sarlat in France. On returning to the Ioniq we had an indicated range of 224Km and the distance to home was 198Km. We tool the non motorway route over Nordlingen, at speeds approaching the limit on the area we were in, so between 70Kmh and 100Kmh outside towns and 50Kmh in towns. We covered in total 204Km to home without recharging on route and still had 9% battery left.

The total distance covered was 470Km and the total cost of fuel was probably €7. I say probably as I don’t know the price of the motorway charge yet and the eCharge app doesn’t show the cost.

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Tyre Change

Over the last few weeks the temperature has finally started to rise, and we are now in the mid teens to low 20 deg C. I think its safe to say winder has finally gone, if not forgotten, at least on the low grounds. So last week I gave Autohaus Sangl a call to book an appointment for my tyre change. Usually I have summer and winter complete tyre sets, but as I had the winter tyres put on the standard rims, I have this time had the summer tyres put back onto the original rims. Sometime during the next few months I will purchase rims for winter. Currently I don’t know which rims I will get but I am leaning towards an original Ioniq set. It took about 90 minutes for the 4 tyres to be refitted and balanced. The cost was just over €120 including storage of my tyres. This is in line with what I was expecting. As an aside, when I called to book the appointment, for some strange reason I was told it would be €20. I asked if that was per tyre, but was told, it was the total price. It was obvious to me this price could not possible be correct. Anyhow, my car was also washed, which was a nice surprise.

Whilst I was there I took a short recharge. I didn’t need it but I had 10 minutes to kill waiting for my appointment. Our old car that we traded in was still there, waiting for a new owner. Next to me however were 2 white Ioniqs which had a vehicle to vehicle  (V2V) system built in. The idea is that one of these Ioniqs could goto a stranded EV and recharge it enough to get to a charge point. If I understood correctly, these cars are for the ADAC.

I also discovered that I need to get my charge port exchanged on the Ioniq. Currently the parts are out of stock, and have a longer delivery time, so Sangl is going to order the required items and contact me later to arrange an appointment to install them.

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10,000 Km

Over the last 15 years or so, I have averaged around 10,000Km per year, so when I got the Ioniq I insured it for 15,000Km as being a new toy I was sure we would drive it a bit more. We had also decided we would take a holiday to Norway in June, so that will probably be at least 6,000Km round trip. So a bit of a buffer would be good. However after only 4 months we had already passed 10,000Km. As a result I increased my cover to 30,000Km back at the beginning of March. I hope that will be enough!

It seams to be a common theme amongst EV drivers that they end up driving far more than was the case previously in a “Suck, Squeeze, Bang, Blow” car. Why should this be? I can only speak about my own usage, but I find that there is a certain delight in driving a vehicle that is relaxing to drive. The noise level in the car is dramatically lower than in a conventional internal combustion engine. There is of course still tire and wind noise but the level is generally low, and usually masked by the radio anyway. The “instant” acceleration, the challenge to get the best range on a charge and just a different driving experience are all part of the equation. In the end driving an EV is just fun.

An EV does not encourage high speed, long endurance driving either, although the car is capable of 170Kmh such speeds make no sense due to consumption. The Ioniq battery is a usable 28Kwh, which is quite small, so you are more of less forced to stop to recharge every couple of hours or so depending on the road, speed, time of year, weather etc, or to put it another way every 150-170Km in Winter and every 220-250Km in summer. Personally, I have no problem with this as after 2 hours driving I need a break anyway to stretch my legs, have a drink or goto the toilet. This forced break is one of the objections I have heard from non-EV drivers and a reason that EV’s are not practical. These people often claim they will drive 800Km on a tank of fuel non-stop.

Personally, I call this total Bull.

Once upon a time,  I use to drive Munich to Cambridge or Munich to Le Mans in a day. Each trip was 1200Km or so, but always needed to stop. There was no way I could drive for 12 hours without a toilet break or something to eat, not to mention the dangers of getting overtired and stressed out. So over the last 15 years or so I have taken it a lot more relaxed when driving long distances. On the trip to Le Mans, I usually stop overnight in Burgundy, and have a a good meal and a refreshing sleep. Even so, the 700Km to Beaune from Munich we stop every couple of hours or so. The stops are typically 20 minutes or so, which, coincidentally is the time it takes to recharge the Ioniq from around 20% to 94%. This means that our trip really doesn’t take much longer than with our previous car. We may need to stop a couple of times more than we would otherwise, but it really isn’t much.

At least in theory.

We have not yet driven to Le Mans in the EV, that trip will be in July. I do have concerns about driving in France. I have seen some really bad reports about charging in France from Frank Doorhof (youtube Link), as well as “adventures” from other people.  One of the areas I need to pass through has only 1 rapid charger at a Lidl, and if that is out of commission, there are no alternatives except the granny charger in a domestic socket somewhere, and at our destination there are a few slow type 2 plugs in nearby villages. Having said that, it does look like some new rapid chargers are being installed at an autoroute exit about 20Km away from our destination, so there is hope. There is still a 240Km “gap” that I need to find a solution for. I could take an alternative route via Paris and the Périphérique, but I really, really hate that road. When eventually the chargers near Orleans are up and running again, it will be a lot easier. Still, until then West France is an area of concern for me.

As for the chargers at Lidl and co, I think they are super and I am really thankful to the companies concerned that they provide these charger. I do wish however they were available 24/7. I would rather have a charger open 24/7 that I have to pay for than one that is only open in business hours but free. Maybe they could somehow get connected to a charging network for the hours they are closed so we could pay for them outside of store hours ?


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Buying a Second EV

Because our garage is quite a way from our apartment, I have to take a bus to get to it, or have a 15-20 minute walk. I had been playing with the idea for a while to get a folding e-bike or similar. Most however are at least €1000 and quite heavy and as I have back problems, something heavy I have to lift in and out of the car is really a non starter. I did see one pedelec that folded and was a reasonable price about €600 or so but it had the tinyest wheels imaginable, and felt a bit flimsy. On the other had it weighed only 10Kg and contrary to the other folding e-bikes, it was tiny when folded. The wheel size was my main concern so I started to look at other options.

I also looked into the K1 Hammer, a really good folding e-bike that is authorised for use on German roads in the same class as a moped. Priced at around €1600, it was more than I wanted to pay, but the main issue was when folded, it was too long to fit in the back of the Ioniq.

I had often wondered what a Segway was like to ride, but due to the exorbitant price, almost that of a small car, I had never looked into getting one. There is a company in China called Ninebot. I think they were a startup financed by a company that makes mobile phones, Xiaomi. In short, Ninebot copied Segway, Segway Sued Ninebot, Ninebot took over Segway. As a result Ninebot now sell Segway type personal transportation devices under the name Ninebot by Segway. One device I was interested in and nearly bought was the Ninebot Elite. Priced again at €1600, the main problem is the size and weight. Again too heavy for me to life safely and probably a bit big for the the back of the Ioniq. There is also another model called NineBot Mini Pro, or in Germany called Ninebot Mini Street. This also has authorisation for use on the road in Germany and at circa €700 was an ok price.

So I bought one. Now, the advertising wasn’t exactly accurate on the German road authorisation, because you need 2 items. First is a technical test from Dekra or TÜV, and second, you need an ABE (Permission for General Use). There was no ABE for the NineBot Mini Street. In itself, not a great problem, “just” goto the bureaucrat’s get a stamp on a document and thats it. Well, first problem is I was directed to the wrong office and after a 30 minute wait, my turn came around, and they said not here, go over there to room 131.  There was no waiting time at that office, but they were not happy with my Dekra certificate. This certificate may not be over 18 months old. Listening to them I found out they had had a lot of these Ninebots come in and all checked by the same engineer back in 2016. They were just telling me they couldn’t accept the certificate when one of the two officials realised the certificate was 2 weeks under the 18 month limit. So they gave me a ticket and told me to wait. An hour later, I was called back in and they gave me a bill for €40 to pay, and when paid I got my documents to get insurance.  My insurance plates arrived the following Monday, so now I can use the Ninebot to get to the car and back, and its street legal. Its also good fun to ride as well. Generally it is to be ridden on cylce paths, but can also be used on side roads and pavements (to a limited extent). The range is supposedly unto 25Km or so, but I wouldn’t want to ride it so far. It can also go upto 18Km/h so a bike helmet and pads like an inline skater is also a good idea.

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Regensburg and the Hundertwasser Turm

Time for another day trip. This time a quick trip to Regensburg. We charged for free at the Autobahn station Pentling. Its only 20Kw but free is free. After watching an airport shuttle park in 2 of the 4 available EV charging parking places (there is only 1 charger at present) and just sie there for no reason, we continued into Regensburg itself. I had read in advance that charging in Regensburg is difficult at best, due to the local mayors politics, so it didn’t surprise me to see only 2 charging point, a slow one. But at least it wasn’t blocked. Due to the local policy of not towing away cars blocking chargers, and instead issuing only a parking ticket for 15€, its cheaper to pay the fine than to park all day in a garage. So those chargers there are are often blocked.

Following a walk around the city we decided to start the trip home. We had often seen the sign on the Autobahn for the Hundertwasser Turm at Abensberg but we had never stopped there. The town is a bit off route, but we went anyway. There is one charging point next to the “Altes E-Werk” which has two type 2 connectors and standard power sockets. Again, this charge point is free and delivers up to 22Kw. As we plugged in, another Ioniq pulled up with stickers from Autohaus Sanlg, the dealer where we purchased out car, but the driver said the car had nothing to do with Sangl, he was just giving free advertising for him.

In Abensberg itself we were just in time to be too late for a fete. The town is attractive in the center. Small however. The Hundertwasser Turm is a part of the local brewery. It it possible to tour the inside, but it was a bit too late. The cost of a tour is €18 per adult.

On returning to our car a good 90 mins later, we drove across country back to the Autobahn, and passed filed after field of what looked like brand new cars all in storage. There must have been a few tens of thousands of vehicles  of all makes, mostly SUV. I have no idea why they are there, but as a distribution central in fields? Seams unlikely.

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Lets go for a short drive.

And so another weekend comes around. Saturday I must work, as so often, but Sunday the weather was sunny, if a bit cold, and I was free. So after a slow breakfast we decided we would go for a short drive, maybe to Mindelheim. We had often passed by Mindelheim and once stopped for a pizza, but we had never visited it. We set of in a fully charged and heated car. As we were leaving Munich, I had a change of mind. Mindelheim would be closed, its Sunday, and I didn’t feel like walking too much so I suggested we just when wherever we ended up. Our short drive ended up going down towards Fussen, crossing over into Austria, over Telfs, through Nauders down to Lago di Resia, which is where there is a church tower sticking out of the water. The history of Lago di Resia and the villages that were destroyed is worth reading about.

We continued up the pass in sleet and fog to Sluderno, and followed the road to Merano. Its is a pretty area we have not driven through before as we usually go up the Stelvio pass, which is currently closed due to winter. As time was getting on, and I don’t yet trust charging in Italy, so didn’t want to drive down to Bolzano, I thought it would be best to go back over the Jaufenpass. In retrospect maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. The pass was open. What it didn’t say was that it was open until 18:00. We got to the start 17:50 but started started the accent. At first all was good. not much traffic, and a nice drive. After a while though it started to snow. By the time we got to the top we were in about 5cm of snow, and it was steadily increasing. It was not an option to turn around. There was another car behind us which couldn’t wait to overtake but I refused to go faster than what I considered safe. Once we reached to top, then the difficult part started. The decent on the north side off the mountain in fresh snow. I went very slow with regenerative breaking at the maximum step to keep speed down. Basically we just rolled down at about 15Kmh until conditions improved. Once we got to the snow line, things improved rapidly and we got a good regen and a fairly rapid decent. Still, it was not the nicest part of the drive.

Arriving at Vipiteno, it was a quick drive up the Autostrada to the Tesla superchargers at the Plessi Museum where there is also a CCS rapid charger. This charger is also free. I sometimes wonder why they put chargers at the top of a mountain when its possible to regen going down, but still, its an ok location. Charged to 94% we started the decent down the Brenner and I expected to have to recharge at Völs but when we got there I was still at 95% so I carried on over Garmisch towards Munich. In the end we didn’t need another charge before home, as I tucked in behind a coach and actually saw my expected range increase. At Garmisch the cars systems said I would not have enough charge to get home, by the time we got to Munich, it said we would have 25Km left. In the end when I connected tot he charger nt e garage, I had 31Km range left.

So, our short drive turned into 680Km.

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Ah Vienna

Chantal was registered for the Vienna Marathon in 2017, but due to a fractured kneecap, she was unable to take part. We still went to Vienna as Chantal had wanted to go for a long time, but due to her injury, and the terrible weather, we didn’t really see very much.

In February 2018, Apple opened an new store, the first in Austria. As I like to visit new Apple stores, I suggested to Chantal that we went to Vienna for the weekend. She immediately said yes. So about 7am we jumped in the fully charged preheated Ioniq and set off for the circa 500Km drive to a hotel right in the middle of the city. In comparison to the trip to Brno, I decided not to go to Austria via Rosenheim but towards Passau and cross into Austria near Branau am Inn. I find this route is more relaxed compared to the rather overcrowded and fast A8. As a side effect, its also a bit shorter route.

The weather was cold. Very cold at about -5c or colder. Our first charging stop was at Frixing, and the second at Branau am Inn where there is a charge in a shopping center carpark. Last time we were here, it was late at night and the carpark was closed. The position of the charge point is right at the edge of the parking and it would be possible to park on the pavement to charge, but we just opened the barrier and went into the car park, making sure we closed it again when we left. On this occasion the charger was occupied by an e-golf that was plugged into the charger, but not charging. It looked as if the charing had just finished as the point’s display said something like charging finished. I plugged our car in to charge and waited by the car. The e-golf owner came back a few minutes later and I told him we had moved over the connector as he had finished. He was quiet happy about it. As far as I am concerned if the charging has finished, there is no problem with moving the cable. Some people, however, don’t think its ok.

We drove a little bit off the Autobahn for a while before rejoining it and eventually charged at Wels. Further along the Autobahn we charged at Loosdorf, and then St Pölten (Lidl). The hotel in the center of Vienna we reached at about 15:00. When I booked the hotel, I specifically chose one that said it had a charging point. In reality however, it didn’t even have a garage. Instead, they directed us to a public parking at Franz Josef Kai, which has Wien Energy charge points. My New Motion, Plugsurfing and other cards didn’t work with Wien Energy. The hotel also had no card for Wien Energy.

When I was considering going to Vienna, I had looked at the charging systems and noticed that most of the points appeared to be from Wien Energy, so after a few messages from others about a special price that was being offered, I applied on line for an RFID card. A few days later the card was in my mailbox. Great, but … I then had to send in a written contract, wait for the reply, then they sent another letter saying the card would be activated a week later. All in all it took nearly 3 weeks to get the card and activate it. In the mean time I had been to and returned from Vienna. So the whole application was a waste of time. However, I had the card in my wallet, and in the Franz Josef Kai car park, even thought the Wien Energy card was not “activated”, it did start the charger. I don’t know when or if I will receive a bill for this single charge, but so far I have heard nothing.

In Vienna we spotted an Ioniq Taxi. I have seen many Electric Taxis over the last few years, mostly Tesla, and Leaf taxis but this was the first Ioniq Taxi I have seen.

The return trip on Sunday was uneventful and we used chargers at Altlengbach, St Pölten (where instead of Lidl we charged at the “Landhaus vor Haus 17” which is rather slow at only 20Kw, but free), St Valentine, St. Martin im Inn Kreis and Frixing. I have come to the conclusion that driving longer distances at night or on Sundays can be an issue as a lot of rapid chargers at shops and centres are closed.

In total the round trip was 880Km and cost circa €48.

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Unusually I had 3 days off in a row from work, so we decided to take a mini break. We wanted somewhere not too far away, and place we had never been to before. Chemnitz was decided upon. The trip was very uneventful in both directions. We drove we charged once we drove on. Thats about all there is to say about the trip there and back.

And how about Chemnitz? Well I can sum it up in 4 words. Been there, done that.  It’s not that Chemnitz is uninteresting, its more, how can I say, uninspiring. The major tourist attraction is and oversized bust of Karl Marx, apart from that there is, frankly, not much.

Ok, so how about charging infrastructure? Well, there is 1 rapid charger a few Km outside the city on the Autobahn going from Dresden to Chemnitz, none in the other direction. There is a type 2 charger in the Galleria car park, which can be started with a local RFID card or SMS, but the parking costs a couple of Euro per hour. We did find a type 2 charger on the street about 10 mins walk from the hotel outside the IHK building. This can be started by SMS and you can stay connected for upto 4 hours. We were of course charged for the SMS at standard rates, but I never saw a charge for the charging. e charged to 100% and then re-parked to the hotels car park.The hotel said they could not provide charging “for liability reasons” What?

The next day we drove to Coldiz Castle, famous to Brits as a WWII POW prison and the  subject of films, books and even board games. I visited the castle back in 1990 not long after the fall of the DDR. Since then there have been a lot of changes at the castle, and the town of Colditz. The town is quite nice, but the tourist office looked at us like we were from Mars when we asked if there were any charging points for Electric vehicles in town. Needless to say, there are none. Chantal had never been in the area so the tour of the castle was new to her and I think she enjoyed it. We were there just after some massive storms which caused quite a lot of damaged to the Castle, and they were already doing repair works. The car park was partially dug up as well. It turned out that our guide was half British so we had quite a long chat to him after the tour. We mentioned we were in an EV and that it would be good if they could get a charger installed as Colditz was a black spot, and a charger would attract EV tourists. I was pleased to hear him say it was already planned.

Currently the area around Chemnitz is a very black hole for EV tours.

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