Home Tech Electric Vehicles In at the deep end with the Jaguar Monochrom: Part II

In at the deep end with the Jaguar Monochrom: Part II

Black with offwhite... the Jaguar Monochrom. WIll it ever look this clean again? The answer is, probably, no.

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.

Black with offwhite... the Jaguar Monochrom. WIll it ever look this clean again? The answer is, probably, no.
Black with offwhite… the Jaguar Monochrom. Will it ever look this clean again? The answer, probably, is no.

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.

Back to photography tomorrow. Promise!

Read more about electric vehicles on Macfilos


  1. I live in Canada where we live in igloos and I would hate to get caught in a traffic accident lineup for hours in -40 degree weather and run out of heat and then light my candle up to melt the frost off my eyebrows. I think I will stick with my horse and buggy technology for now:) I suppose I could ask to get into someones gas powered car but I do not think I could handle the endless humour about my Jag is going to be only moving on the end of a tow truck. Sorry for my humour – my wife thinks/knows I am juvenile but I am a teenager trapped in an old body I guess.

  2. Congrats on your new wheels, look gorgeous. In England are your charging stations as mixed up as here in the states? Some from solar or home or some tied w coal fired electric plants? Seems like best of intentions still instead of renewable they use coal fire. Does the electric model cost more than gas? Seems like that is other Achilles heel.

  3. I am an electrical engineer and good at thinking outside the box. For being able to get infinite range at highway speeds, a turbine fan blade could be mounted behind the front grill and be used to generate electricity. As a further option, environmentalists could mount a windmill on the roof of the car so that they could put power back in the electrical grid at charging stations. Also the windmill would make a great extended range antenna.

    • Always fancied a car (or a motorcycle) with a windmill. In fact, there was once a motorcycle accessory called the Turbovisor. This plastic disk with vanes spun on an axis mounted on an attachment which went around the rider’s helmet. At speed, the spinning disk removed raindrops and acted like a wiper. It didn’t last long.

      • There used to be – maybe still is – exactly that for ships’ windscreens: the ‘Kent Clearview Screen’ ..it’s motor-driven, and spins rain, spray and seawater off the windscreen ..last seen on ex-Naval last-war vintage craft.

    • Very droll Mr. Nicol sir. 🙂

      Mike, It is great that she pulled through for, and on your first journey too.

      A friend of mine has just had a Tesla 3 delivered, but I don’t think he has been tested like that yet.

      It was via him that I heard that story that the company might be really not trying to be a car company itself (at least for long), the idea being that they will provide the tech for the various marques.

      Mind you, he lives at the actual apex of one of the highest parts of London in Forest Hill, he can push his car about three yards in either direction and it starts going down…. quickly.

      No problem.

  4. My wife drives 10 miles to work each day and then back so an electric car would be useful. But for long journeys I would forget it at the moment because of the lack of charging infrastructure which I think will continue for decades. How many cars an hour enter a service station’s filling station and leave shortly after with a full tank? Until the charging infrastructure can match that I think pure electric cars will be far in the future for most people. But hybrids, or with a secondary charging mechanism as Brian describes, are definitely attractive.

      • This is true, Brian. But the worst aspect is the paucity of non-Tesla charging stations. Typically, in this country at least, you find four or five stations for all other cars while Tesla can muster up to ten. And the Tesla stations are for Teslas. Everyone else is vying for the generic stations, so you could find no room at the inn. That’s something else to add to the time it takes to charge. It is definitely something you need to think about before buying (as I have done).

        • Whenever I drive past your road ..en route to my home.. I see a public car charging station in a lay-by on the A***. Does that charge faster than your home charger? You could pop your new cat there for an hour, and enjoy the walk from it and back to it: car gets charged, you get your daily exercise!

          • I’ve often noticed that one, David. I know exactly where it is and I can’t imagine why it is there on such a busy road. There are others dotted around but pretty useless and many are expensive. Some charge by the hour at around £6 per hour and, since they are slow to charge, that’s a relatively bad deal. Currently I am using the mains trickle charger which is enough to keep me supplied. When I get the cable fitted for existing charging point it will be as fast, if not faster, than most of the street chargers. To get 50KWh chargers you need to go to the motorway or, I believe, retail parks. I’m still learning.

        • Are you saying only Tesla can use Tesla charging stations? Can Tesla use generic stations? Are we going to have Apple versus PC compatibility when a fledging product should be trying to help each other? Where is government and the fake environmentalists?

          • As far as I am aware (and it could differ from country to country) only Teslas can use the Tesla network. I’ve seen someone offering an adapter but I have no idea how this would work because, presumably, the station identifies genuine users. Teslas can, however, use some other chargers so they have it all ways.

          • Another aspect: It seems to be very much an Apple and Android situation. Many cars use the Japanese CHAdeMO charging plug while Europeans tend to go for Type 2 Menekes which also fits the CSS high-power chargers. Do, for instance, in this country one charging station has a cable on either side but you can only charge one car at a time. So if someone is using the CHAdeMo cable, another car cannot use the CSS cable. I’ve already been caught out on this. It’s a bit of a mess, frankly, and it’s about time governments sorted it out. It would be so much simpler if one socket system was made universal by Government decree (or by ISO) because I can see no reason, other than cussedness, for a voluntary agreement not to have been made.

          • I am not sure what plug system Tesla uses but I have seen them charging from non-Tesla public pods so I assume it must be one or other of the two main systems. It’s probably CSS, same as the Jaguar. But even if I could plug into a Tesla charger there would be no way of paying to initiate a charge. And I think there is handshaking with the vehicle. This lack of compatibility is the main problem facing the industry.

    • This is absolutely true. It takes a few minutes to provide a normal car with between 350 and 600 miles of use. The electric car does, say, 200 miles and then needs over an hour to take it back up to an 80% charge (with the final 20% taking almost forever). So on a long journey you get your 200 from leaving home with a full charge but on subsequent motorway service station charges your range is nearer to 160 miles. That said, after 150 miles I’m ready for a coffee and a read of the newspaper, so it could work. Nevertheless, I’m retired and don’t have a tight schedule. It wouldn’t work for anyone in work or in a hurry.

  5. Your description of your journey back reminds me of the last chapter of J B Priestley’s English Journey when caught in fog returning to London from Norwich. Well worth a read!

    • Thanks. I will read it. The problem with Norwich for someone living in West London is that you land up near Romford at the end of the M11. And getting from Romford to Heathrow can taken anything from an hour and a half to two hours, despite the as-the-crow-flies distance of about 30 miles. That’s the price we pay for living in a big city.

  6. Congratulations Mike … wonderful car. I just checked the battery charging costs and home charging is surprisingly economical i.e. cheaper than diesel / petrol in terms of cost/mile. Are you planning to drive to Cheltenham for the TLS AGM? A round trip journey should be within the car’s capabilities without recharging.

    • Hi Dunk, yes home charging is cheap — at least until the government starts missing the tax and decides to insist on a separate meter. It’s a about £15 for 250 miles.

      Unfortunately, by dint of bad planning, I will be sailing across the Atlantic at the time of the TLS AGM. Sadly.

  7. Hi Mike, I only have one more question so please do not ban me from further comments. Do these cars come with sound systems? I am an audiophile and love the natural sound of British equipment. One of the reasons I purchased my Volvo Xc90 was it had an available xooo watt british B&W 21 speaker sound system. If I had a electric version does that mean I have to stay plugged in to listen to Dark Side of the Moon?

    • Brian, my version (HSE) comes with a Meridian Sound System. I am opposite to you, though, and seldom listen to music in the car. I’m normally listening to talk radio and so a sound system is low on my priorities. But I understand from what I’ve read that this is a pretty cool system. You will probably know more about it than me.

  8. Where I live, the Government intends to ban the sale of all new non electric vehicles from 2030. What will electric vehicle technology be like in 2030? Will there be a nationwide network of charging points sufficient to take the volume of electric vehicles? What source and capacity will there be for the amount of additional electricity required? I could ask 100 more questions, but I won’t This is not just about cheap motoring for parsimonious motorists. This is a step change in national transport infrastructure, but where I live and elsewhere around the planet, there is a complete lack of joined up strategic planning.

    Best of luck, Mike, with your new electric vehicle. You should plan on keeping your local political representatives informed about your experiences and maybe you might point them in the right direction as regards policies which might even vaguely look like they are coherent.


    • With you on this William. I saw a piece in the papers yesterday which said that 9% of all cars sold in December were electric. This is now bad news for me since the availability of free charging points just went down a notch of two.

  9. Much like Brian I live in a part of North America with a harsh winter climate, just a little south in Chicago. Range anxiety on a day-to-day basis wouldn’t be a problem, with average commutes being around 20 miles or so. It’s when you need to venture out on longer journeys, in my case 235 miles north into Michigan to visit family that range anxiety comes to the fore.

    A semi (artic) immovable across 3 lanes of traffic with temperatures at -20C. You have to sit and wait, seat heaters on knowing that the cold is reducing range and nothing is moving and won’t move until you have a truck tow truck along in about 45 minutes.

    The network of charging stations is such that outside of urban areas you will be screwed, and possibly need to get towed 50 – 75 miles to find a charging point.

    In America we are just beginning to see more people make the move to plug-in hybrids. Pure electric vehicles for all types of journey likely won’t happen for another 10 years until the charge network has been filled in or range has been extended to 300+ miles.

    I would love to own a vehicle like the iPace or Audi eTron, but it’s not likely to happen for all the above reasons. In the meantime let’s hear more of your real world driving and ownership experiences of the iPace!

    • Again, I can only agree with you. It’s a question of where you live and how far you drive from home. I suspect in places like the big conurbations of California and certainly in southern England, an electric car can make a lot of sense. But there is a long way to go to balance charging times with available dispensers. If all cars are electric, we’d need vast parks of chargers given that the minimum stay is likely to be 45 minutes. Not yet ready for prime time.


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