e-Golf: The biggest electric road trip yet

Road Test Part 4 – The 300-mile roadtrip. Part 3 (The not-so good) Here

Sorry, you’ll have a further wait for my conclusions on the Volkswagen e-Golf, as I first need to relate the details of my biggest ever electric car road trip.

I began the day aiming to crack 200 miles in the day, though I’d actually done this before with the Nissan e-NV200. After failing the other day, I aimed to get a rapid charge at Oswestry on the Electric Highway. From there, I would hopefully head north – probably to Chester, though that opened up the whole of the M6 and therefore, much of England.

Success! e-Golf slurps DC current at 110Amps.

Success! e-Golf slurps DC current at 110Amps.

Now, things didn’t start all that well. The first two attempts to get electrons flowing resulted in a baffling error message. So, I did what any IT bod would do. I effectively rebooted it by removing the connector from the car and starting again. Third time lucky, and I could head off for a brew.

It was definitely time for a brew, as I’d been driving for almost two hours by this point, having covered 62 miles on typical Welsh A roads. By the time I got back to the car, it was already at 85% charge! It had been at 48% when I arrived just 15 minutes earlier. Charging slows as the battery fills, so although going to maximum is not advised (certainly on a regular basis – it’s healthier to stop at 80%), I left it going and supped my brew. And perhaps a cookie.

Soon enough, it was time to continue my journey. I headed up the A483 towards Chester. Now, Chester is a nice place, but the next rapid charger was a mere 35 miles away. That hardly felt like the stuff of adventure. Hold on. Isn’t there (bizzarely) a rapid charger on Holyhead? A quick consultation of Ecotricity’s map revealed that this was the case. Sat nav reckoned it was 92 miles away. The range estimate was 98 miles. Easy!

Of course, I may have neglected to remember that Snowdonia lies between the two, and that electric cars (and normal cars for that matter) use up a lot more energy when climbing hills. I got off to a good start though, and twenty miles in, it still reckoned it had over 80 miles of range. Brilliant. I passed through beautiful Llangollen (for the third time this year), delightful Betws-y-Coed and as I climbed the next steep hill, noted that I appeared to have 38 miles of range for the 34 remaining miles. Ah. I knocked the cruise control down from 50mph to 45. Perhaps if I climbed hills more slowly, all would be well.

Normally, travelling this slowly would pain me – even going uphill in the 2CV – but actually, it was really relaxing. Mainly because this was not a weekend and there was not much traffic. Incredibly, I still encountered folk going more slowly than me! I set the Adaptive Cruise Control and let the e-Golf follow their pace. Saving yet more miles. As we neared the A55, the range was again around 20 miles higher than my destination distance. I could do 60mph with relish.

I arrived at Holyhead with a full 16 miles of spare range. The charger (or rather chargers) took a little finding, being hidden at the far end of the short term car park at The Port of Holyhead. I was pleased with my stats so far though.

e-Golf figures

5.2 miles per kilowatt hour is pretty impressive for the speed and terrain!

Frankly, managing to AVERAGE 40mph across Snowdonia and mid-Wales is not bad in any car. But to do it while achieving a very creditable 5.2 miles per kilowatt hour impressed me no end. Clearly all the momentum-conservation tips I’ve learnt through 2CVing came in useful, as did actually allowing the car to slow on hills rather than using all of that beautiful torque to keep the speed up. It was also fun, as I didn’t slow down much for bends…

At Holyhead, the only issue was that I first parked at a charger that didn’t have the DC CCS plug I needed. The other one did, and started charging straight away – no issues.

Electric Highway Holyhead

Just to prove it. That’s a ferry in the background at Holyhead.

The only other issue is that the port is unremittingly grim! I’m glad I only had to enter the main building to use the toilet. I charged to about 90%, giving a range of 100 miles, and set off back to Oswestry.

There seemed a little more traffic on the way back, so I made more use of the cruise control. I found it accelerated more gently when placed in Eco mode, so I sat back to enjoy the views, listen to BBC Radio 6 Music on DAB (where terrain allowed) and focus merely on not steering the car off the road. I did get fed up with a dawdler in a BMW at one point and made a lavish, range-sapping overtake. That torque means you can zip past and expose yourself to danger for a very short period. Confident I’d make it back with miles to spare, I allowed myself the luxury of a 60mph cruise.

There was one brief period after a long climb where the range dropped below the predicted mileage, and the car started frantically asking me if I wanted to find a charging station. For a giggle, I told it to do this, and it told me it couldn’t find any. None of the Electric Highway chargers seem to be on its map. This is poor.

But I made it anyway, gave it another charge, drank more tea (I refuse to comment on cookie intake) and headed home. I had way more charge than I needed, so got a positive hoon on along the A44. It’s a nice car to drive briskly. As I pulled up at home, the e-Golf reported that it’d clocked up 300 miles since leaving home that morning. In total, I’ve driven this car 700 miles since Thursday. Not bad going for any car, but unthinkable with an electric car only a few years ago. Truly, times have changed.

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