The sequel — harsh reality sets in
Where was I yesterday? Regulars might have wondered why Macfilos was unusually quiet. Well, your editor was stuck in the mother of all traffic jams: Incommunicado, behind the wheel of the new electric jalopy (see my earlier article on the change from diesel to electricity).
Yesterday was the appointed time to collect the new (to me, at least, for it is “previously owned”) barouche from Norwich. For those outside the UK, this ancient and wonderful city is about 120 miles north-east of my home in London. The morning started promisingly. I set out full of hope on the 11 am train from Liverpool Street station (“to avoid the rush hour” a smart move which came back to haunt me later in the day) and arrived in Norwich 90 minutes later to find a taxi waiting to whisk me to the local Jaguar main agent.
The promised Jaguar Monochrom was sitting there, in a full amount of glory, outside Inchape’s showroom as I stepped out of the taxi: All shiny black bodywork (probably for the only time in its life with me) and off-white leather upholstery. Hence I call it the Monochrom. I was fair itching to get my hands on the keys.
But there were the usual formalities to get through, including a mountain of paperwork, then a handover, rudely curtailed by me because the clock had crept round to 2.45 pm. It was a nasty, damp, gloomy and misty afternoon as I pointed the rather strange car in the direction of Thetford and London. I’ve driven electric cars before, but to be presented with all that technology in such strange guise is more than enough for such a dismal afternoon and, potentially, dismal driving conditions.
The first 65 miles of the 120-mile journey went well. Stopping for a coffee and sausage roll (no time for lunch), I noted consumption of 2.1 miles per kWh (must get used to this new phraseology). At domestic electricity rates, that’s about £4.50, not bad. Setting off again, the Monocat was purring along and I was looking forward to getting home. Except that the navigator was projecting an unfeasibly long journey time which, at the time, I thought must be some sort of mistake.
Then it started, just as it began to get dark. The M11 motorway was nose to tail and it got worse as London neared. In the end, there was total gridlock, a sea of red lights, and we took a full 90 minutes to cover the last ten miles. This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it, even though I normally try to avoid busy periods. It is probably the worst traffic jam I have ever experienced — and all in a new and unfamiliar car.
A total journey time of 5½ hours for 135 miles (the extra a result of frequent detours to avoid jams) is most unusual and, bearing in mind the constant use of heating, it was not surprising to find only 60 miles left in the batteries when I pulled up to my home. Still, it adds up to a total range of 195 miles, somewhat short of the optimum 230. This in-at-the-deep-end type of journey probably shows an EV at its worst. If it can cope with this, it can manage anything.
None of this is particularly relevant to my future usage pattern because I will be operating largely within the range of my home charger. I should never leave home without a full tank in the future, so range angst will be at a minimum. But the experience does say a lot for driving conditions in the south-east of England. True, this was congestion was probably the result of a series of small incidents, but it’s a disaster nonetheless. Today, fortunately, was another day and, after writing a couple of articles I was out and about in the car. More in a later article.