The point of this trip was a long weekend away in the English Lakes. Could the Roadster get us there, drive us about, and get us home, all without hassle? Could we enjoy the break or would we be tied to charging posts and too busy fretting about range? I'd seen accounts of all sorts of long trips in Roadsters, but had never tried it for myself. Could I cover the distance and keep my girlfriend from moaning if it was all horribly inconvenient?
Despite having covered about 6000 miles since purchase, it was the first occasion I'd driven much beyond the Roadster's range or charged it on > 13A outlets, so there were a lot of unknowns. I wasn't sure how having a passenger and all our luggage would affect the range. I had never been up very large hills, and just how long would we have to wait to charge? All these things were still question marks so I set out defensively, with a list of possible charging points and backup options.
The answers need not have been in doubt - my confidence in the Roadster's performance has since gone through the roof.
We covered 800 miles over the 3 days, paid about £6 for electricity, and consciously spent no more than an hour in total actually waiting to charge. The cost of electricity on the trip charging from the HPC network and Zero:Net points was actually zero, but I've added the rough cost of topping it up again after reaching home.
The trip to the HPC point at Tebay services on the edge of the lakes from Reading was 270 miles. We left with a full range charge and once on the motorway drove mostly between 60 and 65mph. I was delighted to find we matched ideal miles, and at points even exceeded. I had laid plans on the basis of only making 2/3rds of ideal miles! I felt more than a bit foolish...
We stopped at The Moat House hotel, around 120 miles in, conveniently located on the M6. Here there is an HPC which currently doesn't work (but hopefully soon will), and a Zero:Net 32a commando. Even with just the 32A, we only spent about 2.5 hours enjoying a breakfast followed by a walk by the canal. I had beforehand always thought I'd prefer a service station to some swanky hotel. I had been expecting to use Ecotricity's points, still a good option, but this turned out to be much more preferable. The Moat House was such a pleasant place to stop, so much so we'd do it out of choice not just to charge the car. The breakfast wasn't the cheapest, but that was when I realised it was still far less money than I would have poured into a petrol tank for the same trip. What a massive market incentive awaits businesses offering free charging when the EV really takes off. The saving in petrol more than covered all our meals out.
Charging on the Zero:Net point at the Moat House Hotel.
It was such a complete nightmare having to stop and enjoy petrol-subsidised refreshments at this gorgeous establishment, and in such idyllic surroundings. We really struggled to manage. EVs are so inconvenient.
We literally didn't notice the time pass, and set off on the subsequent 150 miles with plenty in hand, arriving with about 40 miles spare. The full journey took around 8 hours as opposed to maybe 5-6 hours in an ICE vehicle. With a working HPC at the Moat House and friendlier traffic this would have been less, but mattered little. The Tebay services, our first destination, certainly did have an HPC though:
There are two basic types of transport power available at Tebay services. One of them is entirely free. I know which I'd prefer..
Charging at the Tebay HPC. Choice made! Note behind the camera are far and away the best motorway services in the UK - lots of local produce available, its a unique location.
Tebay fed us and watered us while the car lapped up some charge. Tebay services are independently run, and quite unlike any other motorway services. The food is great and the variety of local produce for sale makes it an interesting stop regardless of what mode of transport you used to get there.
We then spent that evening, the whole of the next day, and the following morning driving all over the Lake District visiting all sorts of places. The weather was great. We covered all of the more famous passes (Kirkstone, Hardknott, Wrynose..). Range never played a part, we just went where we wanted, when we wanted. All the hills really brought home how insane it is to drive an ICE car up a mountain and not to be able to retrieve any of the energy. Watching the ideal miles jump up from the regenerative braking on the way back down from the latest pass was incredibly satisfying. The memory of smoking brakes from the descent in a previous trip over Hardknott in a Fiesta seemed distant indeed - I hardly touched them in the Roadster, and it never broke a sweat.
The camera tends to make it all look very flat.
Who was having the biggest effect on the local environment, the cyclist or the Tesla?....
At the top of Hardknott pass, anticipating some good regen on the way down.
On a plateau near Broughton. Much fun was had driving these roads.
Ullswater. Really quite a pretty car too!
I must mention OVMS - the Open Vehicle Monitoring System. I had received this a couple of weeks before going, and it really proved itself. It is very convenient to be able to get an immediate update on the charge state of the car. This meant there was no need to get up from the comfortable sofa A brilliant system that really works, I strongly recommend it to any Roadster owner who hasn't already bought one.
The return journey was more of the same, first a range charge from the HPC at Tebay, a couple more hours at the Moat House (over beer and the most delicious sandwiches this time), and we were home without incident. It was almost an anti-climax.
This trip validated EVs to me in lots of ways. Not as some poor alternative, but a far better solution. This was about as far as I'd wish to drive a 2-seater sports car, so for me that tipping point has indeed been reached. A battery as big or bigger than the Roadster's, the UK HPC network for range extension, and as many destinations with 32A or above charging such as those being rolled out by ZeroNet are everything thats needed, at least for me. Everyone always bangs on about range, as I have here too, and forgets the plethora of advantages driving an EV offers. For the driving enthusiasts, the performance profile of the electric is just a joy that surpasses any ICE car, especially on the winding roads of the English Lakes. For the environmentally conscious, the fact you can visit such a beautiful place and know you are leaving virtually no negative trace is a great feeling.
Even when buying the Roadster I was still fretting and wishing for more - more battery, faster charging, etc…. but this trip made me realise I don't need more. The worst thing about our trip? All the ICE cars still stinking and noising the place up. That is why I actively want other people to take the same choice. Otherwise, I'm quite content having made my own.
We had a great time, and driving an EV only improved the experience. Many thanks to those responsible for the UK HPC network and Zero:Net.