Electric cars, charging stations and a very lovely puppy
Head of Climate Solutions, Nick Stansbury, shares with us his first-hand account of juggling children, pets and electric cars.
It took nearly a year, but the Stansbury family’s mission to acquire a lockdown puppy has finally been realised. The long-awaited weekend arrived, and the time came to take a round trip of nearly 600 miles to Yorkshire and back to collect our new pet.
There was only one problem.
During lockdown, we had already made another big life choice: taking up my employer’s offer of a subsidised electric car, we had swapped our guilt-inducing diesel for an all-electric SUV. We had gone all-in on an electric motoring future, and now was the time to put it to the test. How would driving nearly 600 miles in a single day go, in a car that struggles to get more than 200 miles from a full battery?
To avoid being stranded, we’d have to make at least three recharging stops. What would have been one quick splash and dash to refuel from a pump had become a major exercise in complex logistics.
There was one potential upside: as an analyst covering the oil industry, I’ve spent a significant portion of my time this past year trying to work out if there is any future for major oil producers given the world’s race to achieve net zero carbon emissions and the renewed focus on renewable energy.
So, I spotted the opportunity to modify our proposed route and test out the UK’s three most prominent charging providers in one go. One is owned by Shell*, one by BP*, and one is controlled by the automakers themselves. Downloading what we were told was the best app, we were quickly alarmed by the less-than-glittering reviews that we read on the reliability of the charging stations we intended to visit. As a result, we woke up an hour earlier than planned, and set off.
The adventure started well. Ionity* is a network of ‘ultra-fast’ chargers set up by the automakers. They aim to offer a ‘premium’ experience, and we made them our first stop on the A1. Open the port, tap the card, and power was flooding into the car’s battery. By the time we’d eaten our bacon sandwiches and drunk a much-needed coffee, we were fully charged and on our way. The only concern was the very high price I felt they charged. So far, so expensive, but also so easy.
Around 100 miles further on and our plan relied on having another top-up. We stopped this time at a service station just south of Doncaster. A bank of shiny new Shell chargers awaited us. We plugged in and started charging up – for all of 10 minutes before, with a loud click, the entire bank of chargers tripped off. Despite our pleading with the station’s staff, aimless pushing of buttons on the chargers, and a lengthy investigation of the fuse cabinet by a very confused and apparently untrained station attendant, nothing could be done.
Our plans suddenly looked very shaky. No longer could we reach our planned third stop to trial a BP charger; we simply didn’t have the range. Fortunately, we were able to re-route to the only other charger we could find on the map. Off we set to another Shell station where, hidden behind a grubby skip next to the rubbish bins, we found a solitary charger. With fingers and toes crossed, we eventually managed to find a way to attach the very short cable to the car, without having to ask for the skip to be moved. We charged up with just enough electricity to make it home.
Our electric road trip has clearly highlighted that the UK’s charging infrastructure is simply not up to scratch yet. Much investment is still needed to build the infrastructure required to make all electric motoring a stress-free experience for drivers.
But we did make it home in the end, with a very tired but delightful puppy in our arms.
Remember, the value of any investment is not guaranteed. The value of investments and any income received from can go down as well as up and you may not get back as much as you had originally invested.
* For illustrative purposes only. Reference to a particular security is on a historic basis and does not mean that the security is currently held or will be held within an LGIM portfolio. The above information does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any security.