Drive stressed

We had our longest trip in the car today, driving to Leavenworth (about 140 miles). It was cold and icy (the external temperature in the mountains got below freezing) so we had a choice between running the heater and using up the battery, or freezing inside the car as we drove, so we went from 260 miles of range when we left home, to 47 when we got to Leavenworth.

Fortunately, there was a fast charger behind Leavenworth City Hall. Unfortunately, as I discovered today, there isn’t a universal fast charging adaptor for electric vehicles yet, there’s three different standards. Roughly, there’s Tesla, there’s our Hyundai that uses CCS, and there’s ChaDeMo, a cursed set of letters that means "no, you cannot charge your Hyundai from this fast charger".

Luckily, next to the fast charger there was a level 2 charging station. (Level 1 is an adaptor you plug into a wall socket and charge your car over a matter of weeks. Level 2 is the kind you mount on the wall of your house and charge your car in 8 hours, and level 3 is a high speed charge that does your car in an hour but eventually knackers the battery.) I went through the hell of calls to a call centre, eventually paid nine dollars, and left the car to charge.

We wandered around Leavenworth; we got bratwurst, had a snowball fight with the kids and went sledding, and after three and a half hours the car had 140 miles of charge on it. This was cutting things fine and no mistake, and as we headed home the range was dropping faster than the distance to travel, so we had to detour to another charging station outside a hotel in Cle Elum.

And, joy of joys, because I’ve yet to discover a good app for locating compatible charging stations, that one was also ChaDeMo and useless to us, but at least there was another Level 2 charger next to it (which are universal across cars, thankfully) so we got fifty more miles of charge and that got us home with 15 miles to spare.

Reading up on this further, it’s only Nissan and Mitsubishi that use ChaDeMo in the US, all other electric vehicles (except Tesla) use CCS, so it’s even more infuriating that there’s ChaDeMo wherever I look. But then I don’t know how many Nissan Leafs have been sold here, vs Hyundais and others.

We made it back, and now I know for next time. I also got lucky – if somebody else had plugged their car into the charger in Leavenworth, we’d have been in all sorts of bother (and likewise, I hope there wasn’t some poor sod inconvenienced by us hogging the charging station). So, live, learn, pack more warm clothes for winter driving. Maybe it’s like being in the 1920s!

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