An attempt to visit my mom for Christmas gives a window into what life can be like when you drive an EV.
The EV I attempted to use to visit my mom with is a brand-new Mercedes EQS, which is a top-of-the-line EV. It is basically an electric version of the Mercedes S-Class sedan and its base price is $102,300 for the EQS 450. The one I am test driving is the EQS 580, which has a more powerful battery, 340 miles of putative range and an MSRP of $125,900.
When it was dropped off a couple of days ago, it only had about 170 miles of putative range remaining, as contrasted with the fully fueled vehicles that are usually left for me to test drive. I use the adjective, putative, with reason – which will be explained shortly.
The reason the EVs I get are not left here fully charged has to do with the fact that there is no practical way to leave them here fully charged as there is no “fast” charger close to where I live. The nearest one is an EVGo 50 khW “fast” charger about 25 miles away. Unfortunately, it is not very “fast” – even by “fast” charging standards.
Many people are unaware of the fact that not all “fast” chargers can “fast” charge an EV to even 80 percent capacity in the 30-45 minutes one regularly hears repeated by the media – kind of like one heard a lot about “the cases! the cases!” from the same media. It depends on how powerful the “fast” charger you plug into is. Some, like the EVGo “fast” chargers in my area, require you to wait a lot longer. As in an hour or more to recover about 100 miles of putative range.
The drivers who shuttle vehicles to car journalist like me only have so much time to wait as they are on the clock – and (in the case of delivering me EVs) have already had to wait twice along the way from where they started their trip – the press pool up in the DC area, about 240 miles away – and my place, in SW Virginia about 30 miles from downtown Roanoke. A trip that takes about four hours took about six, not counting the third stop at the EVGo not-so-fast charger on the outskirts of Roanoke, where the driver waited for probably an hour (as I did, the last time I was at this charger) to instill enough range to leave the EV with me with exactly half of its 340 mile putative range, fully charged.
You may begin to see my developing problem.
My mom lives in a care facility in Bedford, Va – about 50 miles away. Thus, a roughly 100 mile round trip. Ordinarily, this trip would require about five gallons of gas to power my 20 MPG truck there and back. And ordinarily, I keep at least that much gas in its tank – and it’s a matter of minutes to put another 10 gallons in and have a full tank and 300 miles of range. This is less than the putative fully-charged range of the EQS. But – remember – the EQS was not left here fully charged.
The day it was dropped off, I used it to drive down to the gym and back, a round trip of roughly 50 miles that used up about 70 miles of the originally indicated (and putative) range of 170 miles. This seems to be typical. All of the EVs I have driven thus far suffer a loss in actual range of 10-20 percent, probably because I live in a mountainous rather than flat area and driving up causes range to go down. Also driving at higher rather than lower speeds, which I do not so much because I “speed” but because I do not live in the city and so most of my driving is not in the city, where the kind of stop-and-go “city” driving that is the EV’s metier is done.
Anyhow, my short trip of roughly 50 miles left about 100 miles of indicated – of putative – range remaining when I got back home. Not enough to go see mom the next day in Bedford. Or rather, not enough to get there and back – at least, not without really pushing it and hoping the EQS did not run out of range before we got home. So, I plugged the EQS in to acquire more charge. This was around 2 p.m. on Thursday before Christmas weekend. On Friday morning, the car had acquired 22 more miles of putative range after having been plugged – to household 120V current – for about 18 hours.
Why so little range acquired? In the first place, because recharging a high-voltage EV battery using 120V household outlets takes a really long time, under the best of circumstances. It is akin to filling an olympic-sized swimming pool with a garden hose. It can be filled this way, but the wait will be very long.
It will be even longer if the charging is performed under less-than-ideal circumstances, such as the car not parked inside a heated garage but tethered to a wall outlet inside the garage while it is parked outside – in bitter cold weather.
When it is cold out, the EV is trying to keep its battery pack warm, which consumes electricity and so saps range, even as it sits charging. 120V charging can hardly keep up with this, which is why I awoke to just 122 miles of indicated-putative range showing on Friday morning.
In theory, enough – just barely – to make the drive to see my mom and make it back. But when it is 9 degrees (and falling) out, it is not a comfortable feeling to venture out on a trip you might not make. Remember – never forget – that when you run out of charge in an EV you are dead in the water. Or rather, dead by the side of the road, wherever you happen to be. And that is where you will be for awhile – in the cold, without heat (being electrically produced in an EV) because there is no practical way to walk back the equivalent of a couple gallons of gas so as to get going again. And avoid freezing.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to stop first at the EVGo “fast” charger to recover the range lost driving to it – about 25 miles – and add some more on top of that, to assure enough actual range to make it to mom’s in Bedford and make it back home again.
But when we tried to hook-up to the EVGo “fast” charger it was a no-go. The “pump” was not working. Interestingly, the power was down in the shopping center where these particular not-so-fast chargers are located. So we used the locater in the car to find the next-closest “fast” charger, which was also an EVGo charger, this one at a Sheetz gas station about 10 miles distant. By the time we got there, the putative range remaining was only about 87 miles, definitely not enough to get to Bedford and back.
But these pumps refused to work, even though they had power. I could not get the thing to accept my credit card; too old school, apparently. The insolent box demanded we use the EVGo “app” – which wants your credit card data. So so as to permit paperless/electronic debiting and – no doubt – nudge the user along the path to digital currency. But the app would not load and while we were sitting it was getting later – and colder. Temps were expected to fall to zero – or less – and I knew that would cut into whatever range we instilled, which was none – because we couldn’t get the “fast” charger to charge my card.
So we cancelled the trip to see mom and limped back home, using up two-thirds of the 87 miles of indicated range remaining by the time we arrived. The “reserve” and “charge now” warning lights illuminated as we approached my driveway, with 29 miles of indicated-putative range remaining.
I plugged the EQS back in. This was around 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. Overnight, temps have fallen into the below-zero’s (with the wind chill). As of Saturday morning – around six in the morning – the EQS had recovered 13 miles of indicated/putative range. This is just barely – and just maybe – enough actual range to make it back to the EV-no-go “fast” charger, where it would take at least an hour of waiting to get the range back up around the 170 miles of range the EQS had when it was dropped off.
But I think I will leave it plugged in for longer – meaning, for another day – before I attempt to go anywhere again. The EQS is a very nice car. It is, after all a top-of-the-line S-Class. You go in style and comfort. Just not very far, not very fast.
To be fair, it’s not the car’s fault, per se. If it were possible to “fast” charge it at home in an hour or two, then no issue – because you’re home. If the “fast” chargers available elsewhere didn’t take so long to charge, no problem, again. But you cannot “fast” charge” at home – and going to a commercial “fast” charger makes you wait where you don’t want to be. And, of course, you must allot the time to drive to and from these “fast” chargers. It’s a circular – and compounding – problem.
As far as seeing my mom, we’ll be taking the truck.
While the Mercedes sits.
. . .
If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos.
PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)