I had my first taste of a fully-electric car on a recent vacation to Gothenburg, Sweden. When looking for a hire car I was served up several very cheap deals but they were fully-electric. Sweden I thought was ahead of the whole EV curve, certainly ahead of the UK where I live. 

The hire company didn’t give any instructions or tips for charging other than it was expected that I return the car in 11 days, fully charged and that the Peugeot 2008e GT could charge using the 150KW chargers. The car showed a range of 320km when I picked it up and it became fairly obvious that this was NOT an accurate range. I have since read that a real world range for this car is 249km with a mixture of highway and back roads. 

My vacation was 11 days and over that period I “wasted” approximately 12 hours charging. The property I was staying at didn’t have any opportunity to charge so I had to look for somewhere to go. On day two of my vacation I drove to the nearest charging station using Google Maps. 

How do I pay? No obvious signs of the payment method for a novice user
How do I pay? No obvious signs of the payment method for the novice user

Upon arriving I found three chargers all with two-pin sockets and I of course had a Type 2 cable which didn’t fit. I asked at a local garage and was directed to a supermarket that had chargers in the car park. Upon arrival there were two chargers and they accepted my charging cable. I worked out that I needed an app in order to use this charger but the App Store wouldn’t allow me to download it saying it wasn’t available in my area as I have a UK-based mobile phone! 

Seven hours to charge
I called the charging company and out of kindness they said they would allow me to charge, for free. I hooked up and looked at the display in the car to see that it would take over seven hours to charge!!!! 

I searched for an app that would show me where all the charging points were and discovered Plugshare which I downloaded. I drove to the nearest place to find 3 cars already charging and no one around to ask how long they would be. Plugshare then took me to the next nearest that turned out to be a private point at a local company and just for its employees. I asked the company for suggestions and they directed me to yet another charging site. This site took my Type 2 cable but I now needed a special dongle in order to use it which of course I hadn’t been given. 

The first charging station won't accept my charging cable
First charging station won't accept my charging cable

At this point I had approximately 20% charge left on the car and called the hire car company. I asked to change the car for a hybrid. The hire car company advised me that MOST Circle K and OKQ8 petrol stations had the correct charger and no need for apps or dongles, just a credit card. I drove to my nearest OKQ8 to find 6 chargers all being used with a long queue of cars waiting. With queuing and charging I was there for 2½ hours. Whilst sitting and waiting to charge I witnessed almost everyone having an issue with charging and having to call the charger company. I would also point out that my nearest OKQ8 was a 20 minute drive from where I was staying. 

Over the course of the 11 days I noted a lot of the chargers didn’t work, they were exposed to all weathers with no canopy like you would expect at a conventional petrol/gas station. The newer high output chargers have very heavy cables and I wonder how the frail, elderly and physically handicapped will manage. 

Some of these sites aren’t in very nice areas and you probably wouldn’t want to sit there alone for 90 minutes or so. My average charging time on site was 1 hour 30 minutes and that was usually 30% to 95% charge. That last 5% took ages. There is a lot more work needed to improve the charging network and will they keep up with the increasing number of fully-electric and hybrids being sold?