With an all-electric vehicle future looming fast, the leap into a more sustainable way of driving is just a few years away, and many of us are already embracing the change.
Very soon, all of us will have little choice as government rules will start to phase out old-style petrol and diesel models from as early as 2030 – so if you haven’t given the new range of next generation electric vehicles a second look yet, the time is now.
Maybe you haven’t had the time, or maybe you are worried that they won’t cut the mustard when it comes to driving long distance, or maybe you’re just a traditional petrol or diesel driver with some resistance to change.
As a car lover myself, I too had many questions and heard many myths but was keen to challenge and change those perceptions so that more people could start driving worry-free.
To test their mettle, I decided to take in a longer distance – from Kent to Cornwall – to see how my new Audi e-tron S would fare. At 300 miles, it’s more than 200 miles longer than my usual much shorter commutes closer to home.
How far would I get before I need to charge and how easy would one be to successfully locate?
My family – wife, son and my niece – were all up for the challenge as we set off to spend a few days in Cornwall by the beach.
My mother-in-law was doubtful it would be a stress-free trip and was wary about our success – and so I was keen to set her straight, despite my own questions about performance, range and the charging experience I might expect.
I was also keen to document my experience as it happened, here:
Saturday 31st July
The day had come! As my Wife and I were awakened by my bright-eyed son and niece raring to go, we packed our bags and filled the spacious Audi e-tron S with everything but the kitchen sink.
Having arrived home late the night before, the car was only charged up to 93 percent before we left which could have been higher with a bit more planning. However, with a 178-mile range I was comfortable to get on the road. I also took a quick glance at e-charger locator app Zap Map – Lookers’ tech partner - and saw that there was a good selection of chargers along our route.
This helped to ease my mind just a little. Setting off on our 300-mile journey, I had hoped that the ‘mandatory’ stop at McDonald’s could be an opportunity for a recharge in more ways than one. Would there be enough charging spots in the area?
Well, we were about to find out…
After 2.5 hours driving, the Avengers just wasn’t cutting it for the children. They were becoming restless and hungry. On top of this, there were just 43 miles of range remaining, so time to start thinking ahead.
I opened Zap-map and was pleased to find that there was not only an EV charging point, but also a McDonald’s restaurant at Wincanton, which was on the route.
Hungry and a little tired, we headed in that direction.
After what seemed like an age of “Are we there yet?”, we pulled up outside McDonald’s Golden Arches to find four dedicated contactless-payment chargers and plugged into a 22kw/h power version.
I ordered the food and discovered a speedier 50 kw/h charger had become available, so I took the opportunity to switch the plug and get on with breakfast and our well-earned break.
A little over an hour for breakfast and there was already a healthy 152-mile range on the clock – that was just three miles more than we needed to complete the entire journey. Carefree and feeling much more confident, we set off again.
At this point in our journey, we had been on the move for almost 7.5 hours. Tired of driving, it would usually be at this point when road rage would set in.
And, to my surprise, busy traffic in pockets along the way had little to no effect on the range available in my Audi e-tron S. In fact, I noticed that while in economy mode, the car would gain five miles at the expense of A/C – so that was a big thumbs-up from an economic, fuel-saving point of view.
That said, I decided to be ‘free and easy’ with my climate control and decided to stop and charge just one more time.
With a 49-mile range and 36 to go, we stopped off at Cornwall’s famous Jamaica Inn hotel, which has just had two new charging bays installed. After quickly becoming available, we plugged in, took a comfort break, stretched the legs and visited a farm shop. A flying visit but a comfortable buffer.
We’re here!We arrived at Trevalla Holiday Park just 26 minutes after the last charge safe and sound. The holiday park had its own Pod Point (7kwh) public charging facility and fortunately I already had the app to secure some supplies at £1 per hour after adding some credit.
After a relaxing time away – as relaxing as can be with two young children – I made sure to plug in and charge overnight for the long journey home and after the drive down from Kent, this time I had huge faith and confidence that the Audi e-tron S journey home would be another smooth and confident one. Any worries I had were gone.
With another stop at McDonalds on the way back, I got straight on to the fast charger this time while we all enjoyed a meal, a round of McFlurrys and a toilet break before getting quickly back on the road.
We arrived back home, plugged the car back in and went to bed happy. Happy that I had completed a long journey in my Audi e-tron S with little to no inconvenience on a route without proper motorway services which provide super chargers like those on major routes.
I had completed the journey with full success and little stress at all, though the big lesson I learned was to think ahead. Had I been fully charged before I left, I would have had to stop only once.
For a 300-mile journey, you would have to stop at least once to take a proper break. Anything less would be dangerous and unhealthy.
Hence, stopping and charging the car was something which came quite naturally – if we had a petrol or diesel car, we would have been doing the same.
Surprisingly to me, charging speeds and the abundance of charging points was much more impressive than I had previously thought, and any concerns I had about this have melted away.
Above all, the Audi e-tron S driving experience is second-to-none for comfort, style and reliability and lacks nothing from its diesel-fuelled counterpart.
With no gears, clutch, and limited noise, the Audi e-tron S delivers a driving experience like no other, gliding along the road providing a smooth, comfortable ride.
Lastly, my mother-in-law has had to eat her words …it’s been a win-win all round.
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