My next car is an electric (part two)

I recently got an opportunity to try out an electric car for one month to see if it would fit with our driving needs. In a previous post I formulated three questions and answered the first two questions, the second only partially:

  • Is it a “real” car?
  • Can we charge it without too much fuzz?
  • What is the economy?

In this post I conclude the answer to the second question before finally getting to the third question and the conclusion in the next post. But first let’s get the question of hybrid or not out of the way.

Why not a hybrid?

Hybrid cars or cars with both a gasoline engine and an electric engine have been around for many years now and do offer both a long range and a good fuel economy for short trips. So why not buy a hybrid car?

I did consider replacing the Octavia with the Octavia iV 2020 hybrid. However, I still can’t charge at home so I would not get the full benefit of driving electric. Also, with the option to keep the Octavia at least for another couple of years for the long range, as we have parking space for two cars for free, there is really nothing a hybrid can do for us that a fully electric second car can’t give us. Ok, we will pay insurance for two cars but will also get the benefit of having a second car.

So on with the second question: how to charge an electric car away from home. Last week I tested charging while shopping and charging while eating. Neither being fully satisfying solutions for our situation. This week I tested charging while watching a movie and charging while working.

Charging at Heron City. Easy to find parking lots with extra space to move around and plug in the cable.

Charging while watching a movie

As cinemas opened up again, I took the kids for a treat and tested charging while watching a movie. The nearest cinema is in a shopping mall that offers 28 parking lots with charging stations. The parking lots with the charging stations were clearly market and easy to find, the parking lots are wide so you can get around the car and plug in the cables. Finding a vacant spot was easy. After signing up with yet another app, charging started at 5 kW. Two hours later, the car had charged 10.19 kWh for SEK 19.87. Plus three movie tickets at SEK 335.40. While still a net surplus, taking into account the extra driving of 2 x 15 km, you will quickly run out of movies to watch if this is your only way of charging.

Charging while working

One thing we quickly learned after moving to Stockholm is that you don’t want to bring a car into the city centre if at all you can avoid it. Even on a Sunday afternoon. Parking in the city centre is 200:- SEK per hour and that is after you have queued up bumper to bumper in the freeway, paid the road toll and navigated your way through tunnels, traffic lights, and one way streets. So unless we are in the unlikely situation to find a job with a guaranteed parking lot reachable not too far from a freeway exit, taking the car all the way to work is not an option.

Charging at Västertorp sim- och idrottshall.

However, Stockholm does have a number of parking lots close to public transportation as you approach the city. Furthermore, parking is free when you have a ticket for the public transportation network. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could charge there while working in the centre?

Our usual (pre-pandemic) parking lot does not offer charging stations, but I found a place nearby that offers six 3.7 kW plugs. Say, if we can park and charge there just once per week, we would get close to 200 km range. It remains to be proven if charging stations are available.

The subway station is a pleasantly short walk from the parking lot.

One Thursday morning I tested the idea. After dropping kids off at school, we hit the morning freeway jam for a few kilometers before taking an exit and finding the parking lot with the charging stations. Four were occupied, two were available. After downloading and registering with yet another app, charging started at 3.3 kW and parking was paid for the rest of the day for 20:- SEK. The walk to the nearest subway station was short and pleasant.

This is how it should be! 8 hours parking should give 24 kWh or 160 km, or plus 130 km range per day we charge. Even with the extra driving to get closer to the city, hitting a charging station once or twice per week should cover our short range driving needs. Also in the rare case where we have to return home from work early.

As I have not yet started working again, I had to find another excuse to go to the city and spend a few hours. Luckily Alphaspel is not too far from the parking lot and spending an hour or two there was not a chore.

Charging away from home

Concluding on if it is possible for us to charge an electric car without too much fuzz even if we cannot charge at home: Yes, it is. Not completely fuzz-less but with a few new habits, doable. However, convenience-wise, charging at home is by far the better option, even if it is just a slow overnight charge of 3.3 kW. So while it is possible to have an electric car without the capability to charge where we live, we still want to invest in a charging box at home at some point. 

So I’ve got the ball moving on establishing charging stations for our local samfällighet by distributing a note to all 82 homes asking for indication of interest. So far I’ve got replies from two besides myself. Well. Not impressive. Let’s see.

This leaves the third question to investigate before deciding if now is the right time for us to buy an electric car: What is the economy of owning an electric car over a conventional car?

Stay tuned.