I am a resident of Pune and a lawyer at the Highcourt in Mumbai, which requires me to travel thrice a week between Pune and Mumbai. My love for Electric Vehicles (EVs) drew me towards the MG ZS EV, which has been there through thick and thin in the intercity and interstate travels. My commute from Pune to mumbai, gives me 320 KM in full charge which helps me plan my drive accordingly. Although this also depends on the charging stations enroute.
My take on EVs is simple. EVs are just like any other ICE engine and I see no difference in them technically because both share the indication of how many Kms one can travel. In case of ICE engine you randomly search for gas stations and in case of EVs you need to find a charging station. Technically EVs are free of sound pollution and NO noise except tyre friction and air cutting noise. Hence I took a conscious decision to own an EV in August 2021. Prior to that, I did a 2 month extensive research on the new technology and if its worth the buy, are there any challenges and what are the charging infrastructure available.
In the Case of ZS, even with a normal drive I can get a 320 Km range without compromising on the speed of 90-100 per hour or the AC. I have also recommended my friends and family to buy the EV. One thing people should keep in their mind is that whatever company claims expect 100 Kms less as you have to drive in a specific condition to get the performance which the company defines.
I have covered 11000 kms till date. I recently drove from Pune to Bangalore, Bangalore to Coonoor and back from Bangalore to Pune in which I covered around 2705 kms.
This was one of the best road trips I have had in years. I am extremely happy to have completed solo driving after 5 long years which was a long awaited trip.
I was very clear in my research before I started my long trip and was certain that I would enjoy my trip as I had planned it well in advance and had made a note of the charging stations available on my route. I had also installed all the mobile apps necessary for the same with all the topups ready.
I believe in the case of EVs people tend to undergo a lot of anxiety & apprehension towards the battery draining out enroute which creates a hinder to plan such a long journey. I personally feel this anxiety is due to the lack of knowledge & basic research on the know how of the technology and how it works, which can be curbed by understanding and reading on EVs and the charging infrastructure.
In my recent trip I found many charging stations enroute. I always keep a buffer in case of any emergency during stops and I keep a 50 km Backup so that when I reach the charging station atleast 15% charging is left and I can still travel upto 45 km if the current charging station is not functioning.
My first stop was at Kolhapur, and when I went to Sai hotel the Charging station wasn’t working due to an electricity issue. I had to then travel all the way to Shiroli MIDC where I charged my EV at the MG showroom. As I continued my journey, keeping in mind the uphill Belgaum roads, I thought it was safer to charge at Belgaum rather than Hubli as the charging station is just 100 metres inside from the highway. Also, in Belgaum the charging station is at a very convenient location where you can relax while your vehicle is getting charged as compared to Hubli’s charging station where you need to travel 10Km inside the city. I then travelled till Davengere where only 4% charge was left, which I had calculated and was aware of the charging station available. However the challenge was, inspite of the DC charging stations available due to low voltage it took me 2.5 hours instead of 1.5 hours.
Again, after charging at Davangere, keeping the traffic in mind as a precaution I charged in Tumkur again. I drove at 5:45 AM from Kolhapur and reached at 10:30 PM in Bangalore.
Overall, while I enjoyed my driving experience, I noticed the difference in the charging stations infrastructure between the states. In my experience, South India has a better EV charging infrastructure as compared to Maharashtra. Coonoor had a charging station which was recently installed and I was the first one to charge on that charging station.
My suggestion to charging infrastructure companies would be the need for DC fast charger on the highways where most Tata’s have 30kW which is not good enough for cars like MG and the charging stations are mostly installed outside the showroom where there is no place to wait or refresh or relax.
Hubli is one such example which has bad charging spot. In the south, charging stations are installed next to a cafe or a restaurant so that the travel time is not compromised. I also experienced the same in Davangere where no diner was near by and I had to stop by again for dinner after my car was fully charged, compromising on my travel time. The focus should be on the locations in places which have cafes/restaurants and restrooms.
Mumbai-Pune expressway needs more charging stations of minimum 3 DC fast chargers in every 50 Km ensuring there is no waiting time for EV members. Only a good charging infrastructure on the highways will ensure that people switch to EVs and also consider travelling on highways rather than city driving. I have also noticed that there are no charging stations available on Nasik highway nor Shirdi or even Solapur. It will be great to have the charging infrastructure on these routes, especially to create a sense of confidence in EV enthusiasts.