At the end of February 2022, after months and months of research and faffing, I finally took the plunge and ordered an electric car, a Skoda Enyaq IV60 to be precise! Those months of research had me chomping at the bit one minute, the next I'd be thinking there can't be anything worse than driving about in something that could explode any minute or run out of charge 10 miles down the road!
At the beginning of April I picked up Enid the Enyaq! Immediately she was called into action on a journey up to Penrith to meet a couple before their wedding. Cue complete and utter panic at the amount of miles I would use, where would I charge?! Better yet still, I'd only briefly tested out a charge point at my local Tesco on day 1 of ownership, so I literally had no idea how I was going to charge, what kind of chargers there were around or where they would be. Don't even ask how I got to know the difference between CCS, AC, DC etc...
Well fortunately, Burton-on-Kendal services had brand new shiny Gridserve chargers that were actually really simple to use and there was Costa and Greggs to entertain me whilst I waited! In fact, these chargers are probably my most used out of anywhere not local to Preston.
Meanwhile, bar the range anxiety (more on that later), I was absolutely loving life as an EV driver. When it comes to driving, I'm a little bit of a snob, my car has to be comfortable long journeys, quick and all round a bit of a beast. My last car was a Mitsubishi Outlander, a car I have loved driving and will be missed! The enyaq is something else...extremely quiet, surprisingly quick off the line and unbelievably comfy! Not going to lie, when I'd finished my meeting, I found a deserted industrial estate and, in the words of the young people...sent it. Once I'd finished putting my insides back in my body I drove very sensibly home to see how economical it could be (put it this way, I was impressed).
Over the next few weeks I got more and more used to what the Enyaq could do, I questioned how I hadn't gone electric earlier, so much time wasted! I have been impressed by how friendly EV owners are, the amount of conversations I've had outside charge points about our cars, about life, about anything really, has been crazy. I've actually had ICE (internal combustion engine) drivers come up to me and ask me about the car, converting them had me feeling a bit like a vegan or a Jehovahs witness knocking on the door!
I digress...At this point I'd like to shout out an amazing business I found at Crufts in March, they custom build car boot protectors. Their name is Boot Buddy, and I can thoroughly recommend them, it kept my car boot spotless over a very busy April. I came to clean the car and discovered I dint even need to so much as wipe it! Unfortunately it doesn't stop that notorious nose art on the windows though! you can find them here: https://www.boot-buddy.com
So, range anxiety, I had it a month or so in still. Let me give you a bit of background:
The Enyaq has a range of approximately 240 to 260 miles in summer months (over 15 degrees and dry), this drops significantly in winter and can drop in rainy weather too.
The motorway at high speeds is detrimental to how many miles you can do.
Having the air-conditioning on can also drop your range too.
The UK charging infrastructure is also pretty poor, some areas have very few, if any chargers. Often these aren't working or are have queues to use them.
However, the regenerative braking on these cars can provide you with the regeneration of your miles by coasting on hills and allowing it to brake by itself. so swings and roundabouts!
So, it comes to a day where I was feeling pretty lazy and I had not bothered charging. Leaving me with around 90 miles to do a 100 mile round journey to Glossop and back, with a charge at some point on the road. Fatal error! The M61 and M60 have possibly the worst charging infrastructure of anywhere I've been. So I didn't charge on the way. To make matters worse, it was absolutely hammering it down and the M60 was doing it's best to be as busy and horrible as possible, meaning I didn't use as many miles as I would have going at 70mph. Anyway, I got to the couple's house with 64 miles left, 48 miles to home.
Now, anyone that knows me, knows I'm not the best organised...In hindsight I could have avoided all this unnecessary palaver by just planning my journey, or getting off my arse earlier to pop 50 miles in for 10 mins. But, in typical Annabel fashion I thought I'd wing it. Hmm! Heading home my Sat Nav set me to go via the M66 and the M65 (all uphill at this point), in the pouring rain. By the time I was ten minutes from Rossendale I had 14 miles range and no chargers in sight. Pulling over in a panicked state I checked one of my Apps to see there was only one rapid charger for the best part of 20 miles, in the centre of Rossendale. A dreaded BP Pulse (not the most reliable network around). I head there to find it on the wrong side of the road for my charge port (think about a petrol station and which side you'd pick depending on the side your petrol cap is) and on a one way street. Well thank god there were no cameras or traffic wardens about, as I did some questionable manoeuvres to reverse back down the road and plug in. Blessed relief that it worked!
This was my one and only moment of real range anxiety. I taught me to be sensible and constantly top up whenever I stop and there's a charger, even if it's just for five minutes whilst I nip to a toilet. I've never had a problem since. I've also told myself I will very rarely drive more than 100 mile without stopping for a wee or a brew (I should have shares in Starbucks or Costa!), so what is there to worry about?
So, through May, April and June I discovered a massive bonus of being able to charge at certain venues whilst I chaperone the dogs. Thank you to Glendower Hotel, Mytton Fold Hotel and Cottons Hotel and Spa to name a few! I also found the ability to put the air conditioning on remotely, a huge bonus in the heatwave we had this year. It meant that we could have the coolness in the car for the pups to be comfortable AND no fumes coming from a running diesel/petrol engine (and the range does not drop by more than a mile or two in an hour).
How have I found owning an electric car whilst running a busy wedding business, with dogs? Well it's been a learning curve, but here's what I would say about the Skoda Enyaq:
The range of such a big, heavy car can be a bit dodgy, but through the summer I've average around 270 miles, which has meant pretty much all my journeys have been stress free and fun! Bar Rossendale and a moment in Selby in September, I've had no problems charging it out and about.
It is so quiet! Driving it is an absolute joy and I've done 8500 miles since April.
It's really practical and large for the price bracket. The boot is large enough to fit a mastiff in comfortably. The back seats have held all sorts from a Newfoundland and a Bordeaux, to labradors, to tiny little terriers with plenty of space to spare.
A random one now. A retriever can actually get underneath the boot for shade, and having nothing under there she came out as clean as she started. No manky oil here!
The ability to leave the air conditioning on without any engine running is a complete game changer here! No nasty fumes polluting the air and just more silence!
The tow bar is very useful for hooking dog leads on when we have down time. I've never used it for anything else. It also tucks away neatly so it doesn't stick out.
It's genuinely a pleasure to drive, whether that's on country roads or on the motorway. It's ultra responsive and the technology is outstanding. I enjoy driving again!
I could probably go on forever about this car, it's the best car I've ever had. But, the ultimate question....would I recommend going electric? Put it this way, I wouldn't go back now, so many plus points and the technology in the cars and the charging is improving all the time. In fact, we took the plunge in July and went all electric, with the addition of Martin's Cupra Born (don't get me started, although more impractical for my needs, it's a bloody awesome car!). The car is just perfect when it comes to practicality, ease of use, space, overall drive, value for money. Not to mention better for the environment!
There are definite downsides to owning an EV in the UK right now, as I've previously mentioned, the infrastructure isn't the best right now and the amount of chargers is definitely outweighed by the influx in EVs in general. Yeah, the range drops in winter, weddings are seasonal though , so I'm generally quieter in winter and more local, so range still isn't an issue. But on the whole, there isn't really anything else to complain about, I don't have to worry about as many things going wrong with the mechanical side of things (I've broken down in my diesel car before thanks to something engine related), it's cheaper to run and it's better for the local environment.
Conclusion? I've raved about this car long enough. Go electric and buy an Enyaq, or a Born, or any EV, they're fab!