My ID.3 road trip adventure
As we get ready to release our shiny new Volkswagen iD3s into the wild, I recently had the opportunity to take one on a road trip to Surrey – a round trip of over 300 miles. Even I, someone who works for Co Cars, felt a touch nervous about the length of trip. What would the car be like? Where would I charge? Why was the weather so bloody awful?! Fortunately, everything went (mostly) smoothly. So, for any EV curious souls out there thinking of making the switch, here’s some thoughts on my experience.
OMG. It’s awesome. As anyone who knows me knows, driving is not my favourite activity. But the iD3 made it a pleasure – even in the torrential rain. In fact, it was almost too easy. Unlock, foot on the brake, shift into gear using the nifty little ‘gear stick’ by the steering wheel and off you go.
Even in the appalling conditions, I felt confident behind the wheel. As well as lane assist and smart breaking, the cruise control kept me a safe distance behind the vehicle in front and even recognised when the speed limit changed, leaving me to focus on the road ahead.
I’m genuinely the last person you’d call a petrol (EV?) head, but this car is just lovely to drive.
For many people, the range anxiety is real. The iD3s in our fleet have around 260 miles on a full charge. Once these cars are deployed as part of the Rapid Charging Devon project this will be pretty much guaranteed because they’ll always be charging when not in use.
On my car the battery was around 2/3 full at 180 miles when I collected it. Also, given the weather, I knew I’d be using a bit more power to keep us safely on the road.
Taking our team’s advice, I made sure I was driving in Eco mode, with the ‘B’ selected instead of ‘D’. This combination meant I got the most out of the car’s regenerative braking abilities and it quickly became a game to keep an eye on the dashboard to make sure the car was in the green (regenerative) rather than blue (using the battery).
On the way back the sun was shining, and I was feeling a more confident about the car’s abilities, meaning I could really enjoy cruising along the A303 at a steady pace but knowing I had plenty of welly in the ‘tank’ if needed.
This is where Zap Map is your friend. On a longer trip and for peace of mind, it’s totally worth spending a few minutes route planning. But even the best laid plans don’t always go smoothly.
A stop at Solstice Services to use the Instavolt rapid chargers was only slightly marred by human error. Trying to figure out a new charger in torrential rain combined with a very sensitive touch screen meant accidentally cancelling the charging session whilst getting increasingly soaked. There was a bit of a sense of humour fail at this point.
More disappointing was my experience at Cobham Services. Here, Zap Map showed there were both Gridserve and Ionity rapid chargers available. Unfortunately, none of the Gridserve chargers worked. This left me with Ionity as the only (and most expensive) option. Ionity – if you’re going to charge twice as much, at least make sure I actually get a rapid charge.
Sorry, I couldn’t get to the end of this piece without a plug for us. To buy new, the model of iD3 we have comes in at £36k. And all for something that, on average, is only used 3-4% of the time. No matter how lovely the car, personally I can’t justify spending that kind of money.
With us, you’ll be able to drive one from only £6.50/hr (+ 4p mile). Even better, someone else (i.e. us) takes care of all the boring stuff like tax, MOT, insurance etc. leaving you to just enjoy the drive.
Starting next week, we’ll be doing some special deals for our existing members whilst we wait for a date to install the cars in their new homes. So, if you’re not already signed up to the smarter alternative to car ownership, now would be a very good time!
I’m really glad I took the plunge and made a longer trip. Despite nature – and chargers – throwing various challenges in my direction, it was a positive experience. Plus, I got to feel smug cruising past all those Surrey petrol station queues!
In fact, I’m already looking forward to my next time behind the wheel – and that’s something I thought I’d never say