My 7 days with an ID.3 from a charging perspective

I’ve just finished a 7 day hire of a Volkswagen ID.3 which I did because I’m used to Volkswagens and to see if I could live with an ID.3 as my car. Quick answer is yes, but part of the long answer is in this post which is about my experience with charging.

Firstly, as mentioned in my introduction post, the ID.3 was provided with a Type 2 charging cable which allowed the car to charge at it’s full rate of 11kW (according to the app for the car) and this was very useful.

Secondly I spent a lot of time on Zap Map and other charging apps to consider my options for charging and the week before the hire I installed the following charging apps on my phone:

  • A Better Route Planner – this was to give me a rough idea “on the road” as to how much I needed to charge to for a particular journey leg.
  • Instavolt – their chargers have a good reputation and they have particularly good coverage around Durham where I picked up the car.
  • BP Pulse – have a large hub at Harthill Services which are near to my home, and also at Stephen’s Bakers which was going to be a stop in one of my day trips.
  • IONITY – as a high profile organisation in the European VW EV picture I wanted to try one of their chargers, so included it on our trip home from Durham.
  • Fastned – have a growing presence in the North East of England and were a plan B for our trip home.
  • Mer Connect – the hotel we stayed in in Durham was next door to a public car park which had two of their chargers.
  • GeniePointMobile – the hotel we stayed in in Durham had one of their chargers in it’s car park.

I already had the following apps installed on my phone:

  • ChargePlace Scotland – the new app created by the new operator of ChargePlace Scotland is a big improvement over what was available previously. I already had an RFID card from them from hiring the Tesla Model S two years ago and have used it since. I check in from time to time to look at the utilisation of the two 50kW chargers that are within a 2 mile radius of where I live.
  • Osprey Charging – there are a few locations with 50kW chargers across the central belt of Scotland and I already had this installed.
  • ChargePoint – I had this installed to see if it would be more convenient as an aggregator of Charge Point operators but it wasn’t!
  • Shell Recharge – I have this installed as I use Shell a lot for filling up my ICE Golf and got a special offer for discounted charging just before the hire. Unfortunately coverage isn’t great and I haven’t used it.
  • PodPoint – I had this installed from our previous road trip.

Research

Charge Point research consists of a mix of the following sources:

  • Zap Map has the best general coverage of charge points with some conspicuous gaps (ChargePlace Scotland for instance) and a curious reliance on user reviews. I have a mild distrust of online reviews so regard them as an opinion to be noted but subject to verification.
  • Google Maps have ev chargers included but their location accuracy can be patchy, but I can only see this improving as manufacturers such as Polestar and Volvo use their data in their cars.
  • ChargePlace Scotland is much better than it was and the charger status is really useful.

Day 1 – Mer Connect

We normally stay at the Hotel Bannatyne in Durham as use of the Health Club facilities is included and they happen to have an Instavolt Charger. Unfortunately I had a problem booking through their website and didn’t get a reply to my email querying the issue which raised alarm bells.

So I chose the Radisson Blu for the first time; more expensive than Bannatyne’s and you have to pay for parking but within walking distance of Durham Centre.

My research indicated that the hotel car park had a GeniePoint charger but fairly high parking charges, but also that the local public car park had 4 charge points on two chargers and lower parking rates with free overnight parking.

That I had parking options that both had charging was a good start, in the end I steered clear of the hotel parking as I didn’t like that the only content on the parking company’s website for drivers was to appeal parking tickets – no maps or information on rates.

I used Sidegate car park during our stay and simply paid slightly over what I needed to allow us to take our time. The ticket machines accommodated contactless payment and the display and ticket included the departure time. This worked with the overnight timing so I could prepay the night before to 12:30 for instance (Hotel Check out time being 12:00). There was plenty of space when we needed it and the four charging bays are clearly marked at the front of the car park. Although there were roadworks on the access to the car park which made pedestrian access interesting it wasn’t a problem for us.

I used the Mer chargers twice, once in the morning to try the process of charging the ID.3 for the first time and again in the evening once we returned from York to top the car up to 50% to get us to the Ionity at Alwnick on the way home (calculated using a better route planner – technically 40% but the minimum set charge level on the ID.3 is 50%).

Practice Charge in Sidegate Car Park

We had a day trip to York on the Saturday and I planned a stop at Wolviston Services as there is an Instavolt charger at Dominos there. As it turned out the car didn’t need a charge and I just used the stop for a McDonald’s breakfast. What was exciting was the large number of chargers being commissioned by MFG – their distinctive light blue branding was visible from a distance and there was what appeared to be a good number of chargers being added to the service station.

Although we used the Rawcliffe Bar park and ride, it appeared that the single charger onsite was having issues (based on a check of zap-map) and the big plans that York council had had been slightly derailed by the pandemic. I hope things manage to catch up as the plans looked good. My earlier research indicated a nearby Instavolt but we didn’t need it.

As mentioned above we drove from Durham to York and back and I plugged back in with the Type 2 cable at the Sidegate car park with the ID.3 set to 50%. The charging history from Mer indicates that the charge to 50% took an hour and a quarter, cost £4.71 and added 14.280 kWh. The app told me that it was charging at 11kW and I went back to the car to repark it and free up the charger.

Sidegate Car Park (Durham) from the Radisson Blu

Day 2 Instavolt and Wallyford Park and Ride (ChargePlace Scotland)

After a couple of nights in Durham with a day trip to York on the Saturday, we checked out and started our journey home to Livingston. I used the We Charge app in the ID.3 user interface to find the Ionity charger at Alwnick and set the navigation to take us there.

Although Ionity is one of the most expensive options without a plan, I wanted to try one to see what it was like.

The ID.3 started giving charge warnings at 40 miles range when we were about 5 miles from Alwnick – we were the only EV when we got there. We arrived with 17% state of charge (we had everything switched on from A/C to heated seats at times!) and the combination of Ionity and relatively low state of charge with UK Spring temperatures saw a peak of 72kW which was the highest I saw all week.

Charging session at Ionity on CCS

When we were there a family parked up in their van and left it charging while they went to McDonalds – we stayed in the car for the charging session of 23min. This delivered 24.35kWh at a cost of £16.80

ID.3 charging at Ionity Alwnick

I then set the navigation to take us to our first ChargePlace Scotland Charger of the week at Wallyford Park & Ride. I think Wallyford is the only location with chargers over 100kW “Ultra Rapid” on the ChargePlace network and wanted to have a shot on the way home.

There was a volvo C40 Recharge on one of the chargers when we got there and we used the other charger (number 52462). This was the only charger all week that I had a real problem with – to begin with my RFID card didn’t work and then when using the app I had an issue starting the charging session. Having watched a couple of YouTube videos I held on to the CCS connector during handshake (flashing white light on the ID.3) and was able to get the charge session started. I later emailed the support team about my RFID card and they said that something on my account was wrong and that they had fixed it.

My session at Wallyford took 33 minutes and cost me £8.83 for 29.45kWh.

Wallyford Park & Ride Ultra Rapid Charger

Once home near Livingston I decided to try one of our local chargers at Calderwood Primary school (Chargeplace Charger 54003); this has recently had new chargers installed and once I got the hang of the charge limit setting in the ID.3 and reset this to 80% (inadvertently finishing the charging session early). Charging to 80% on the CCS connector took 15.42 minutes and delivered 9.12 kWh and cost me nothing (one current bonus of living in West Lothian).

First CCS Charging session in West Lothian at Calderwood Primary School
Rapid Charger at Calderwood Primary School

Day 3 ChargePlace Scotland for Child Sitting in West Lothian

On Day 3 we had a rest and picked up our Granddaughter from School in the afternoon. We popped to the charger for a top up and to show my Granddaughter about EV Charging then went to the park. Another 15 minute stop to get back up to 80%

Day 4 Chargeplace Scotland and BP Pulse for Loch Lomond

On Day 4 (Tuesday) we had a day trip to Loch Lomond. I planned a visit to Loch Lomond Shores with a little trepidation as Zap Map said the destination chargers were 50/50. When we got there two cars were charging (A Renault Zoe and a Tesla Model X) and I slotted in between the two and plugged the ID.3 in with no problems. As it turned out the nice day meant we spent quite a time there and I increased the charging percentage above 80% so the car would continue charging. The car charged for 2:17:25 hours and received 26.07 kWh and again was free.

Loch Lomond Shores, Balloch

We popped over to see the Hill House in Helensburgh after visiting Loch Lomond Shores and headed back to Livingston. Again I wanted to try the “Ultra Rapid” BP pulse chargers at Harthill Services on the M8 and this coincided well with a toilet and provisions stop. Most of the chargers in Scotland are 50kW and I wanted to try out a faster charger. I used the app and was a little confused with a negative balance at the end of the charge session but just added another £5 to my balance. Charging to 80% took 21:18 minutes, delivering 12.552 kWh at a cost of £5.53.

BP Pulse Charging Session
BP Pulse at Harthill Services (North) on M8 Motorway
BP Pulse Charging Session at Harthill Services

Day 5 BP Pulse and Chargeplace Scotland in Fife, Podpoint in Broxburn

For day 5 (Wednesday) we had a day trip to Fife to explore along the coastline starting in Kirkcaldy. There just happens to be a BP Pulse charger at Stephen’s Bakery at the top of Kirkcaldy and it was clear when we arrived.

Charging at BP Pulse, Stephens Bakery, Roslyn Street Kirkcaldy

This was another perfect stop – I put the ID.3 on charge, then went in to buy a few things including two coffees with a bacon roll for me and a macaroni pie for MrsL. This charge stop took 25:44 minutes to put in 14.7kW and cost £5.59.

We then made the first of several visits along the coastline of Fife; there are occasional charging locations but the rapid chargers only go as far as Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes. That said I was delighted to find two chargers in coastal car parks that were obviously new but not yet connected, which was nice to see.

We visited Dysart Harbour and spotted a new charger that had been installed and not connected. The weather was really windy and we didn’t venture farther than the public toilets at The Harbourmasters House. We then went farther along the coast and stopped at West Wemyss, Buckhaven, Leven, Lundin Links and Lower Largo (another toilet stop!). Again I was delighted to see a new charger had been installed at the back of Lower Largo (Temple) but not yet switched on.

We travelled farther along to Elie where we bought lunch at the bakers and headed to our next charging stop at St Monans Car Park where we plugged in (Chargeplace 54233) and eat our lunch and used the toilets. Again combining activities made the time pass better and we were charging for 40:45 minutes to get 7.74 kW and it cost us £2.76.

Chargeplace Scotland charger at The Common Car Park, St Monans

We then headed along the coast to Anstruther. I didn’t plug in to the charger as there was a Renault Zoe already charging and parked in the right hand space, making the parking manoeuvre a little more advanced than I wanted to try and our state of charge was quite high. So we managed to get as far as Anstruther Fish Bar and had a second lunch!

We then made our last visit on the coast in Crail and I plugged in to the Chargeplace Scotland charger in Marketgate. Crail was fairly quiet and it was easier to spot and park beside as a result as Google streetview did not show the charger (research!) – it’s at the end nearest the mini roundabout. All of the parking spaces are slightly tricky as they are at an angle but I was able to get back up to 80% while I walked the length of Crail trying to find a public toilet (I failed) so went for plan B and bought a coffee to use the toilet at lovely The Beehive Crail. The charging session (Chargeplace Charger 53017) was 22:48 minutes to deliver 2.48 kWh and cost £1.97.

Marketgate Crail

With the drive back from Crail to Livingston being 50 odd miles I headed out to try and get topped up but the local Chargeplace Scotland chargers were in use. I checked my apps and decided to go to the PodPoint charger at Lidl in Broxburn which was the cheapest paid for charger in the area. I set things in motion and did some extra shopping. The session took 31 minutes to receive 21.44kWh and cost £5.57.

44 kW at Podpoint Lidl Broxburn
Waiting at Lidl Broxburn after shopping for the ID.3 to reach 80% on the Podpoint

Day 6 Child Sitting in West Lothian with Osprey and Chargeplace Scotland

Day 6 (Thursday) was a day I helped my wife pick up our Granddaughter so after a slow start we picked her up and we went to the local Starbucks Drive Thru in Livingston as this is next door to a Marston’s that has an Osprey 50kW charger. Having driven through I connected up and we all had our coffee / cookies / refreshments etc. Again no picture but the session took 14:07 minutes to receive 5.72kWh and cost £2.29.

As we were due to return the car to Pulman in Durham the next day I popped out to top up the ID.3 to 90% to get us all the way from Livingston to Durham if we needed it. Adding 7.42kWh took 21:29 minutes at Calderwood Primary School.

While charging a local resident came up to ask me about charging – his brother was due to visit from the Netherlands on the way to Harris and had just got an electric car after his previous car was flattened by a falling tree. I talked (too much as usual) about Chargeplace Scotland.

Day 7 Chargeplace Scotland heading back to Durham

Day 7 (Friday) and we had an earlyish start to give us plenty of time to drive to Durham and return the car and get to the station for our train back to Edinburgh.

Starting with 90% meant we could get to Pulman Volkswagen without charging if we went cross country down the A68 instead of the quicker but longer coastal route down the A1. I tweaked this slightly and we first went to Galashiels so I could get breakfast, then we travelled on to Jedburgh for a comfort break but also for a charging stop (we had stopped here with the Tesla Model S two years previously so I wanted to repeat with our next road trip).

When we arrived at the Cannongate car park a Nissan Leaf was charging and when I checked there was a sign on the charger confirming that it was only possible to use one of the three connectors at a time to charge. So we left it and used the toilets at the Tourist Centre. When we returned the Nissan Leaf driver was leaving so I took the opportunity to park badly (a theme with me) and put the ID.3 on charge, I quite liked the idea that we were on our second road trip 2 years after the Tesla Model S and using the same charger again that had been the first Chargeplace Scotland charger (Cannongate Car Park number 51508) I had used my RFID card on. It took me a couple of goes to charge as the first time we cancelled the charge by mistake by sliding the percentage bar in the wrong direction on the ID.3 touch screen. This session cost nothing to add 13 kWh in 25 minutes.

And we travelled onwards to return the ID.3 to Pulman Volkswagen in Durham and then return home via public transport (Two buses and First class LNER!).

Fourth, Fifth and Sixth EV Drive through car clubs

I have a rather strange “tradition” of hiring cars and doing a road trip or similar. Years and years ago I hired a Peugeot for a couple of days and did most of what the youngsters call the “NC500” in a day.

Then a few years ago I hired a big Volvo Automatic and took the family to Oban.

As my personal cars have got better and I’ve had the motorbike I’ve hired less cars. This may also be due to a more or less 3 year stint working in Reading and Berkshire where I had a hire car for work every day and this was an excellent opportunity to drive a few different cars. During that time I started driving automatic cars as this was a lot easier in my VW Golf with my dodgy left knee.

Latterly I’ve been interested in driving Electric Vehicles, but as an early adoption item these are rather few and far between in hire fleets. Enterprise had a good number of Tesla Model S for a few years but it would appear that the pandemic has seen these reduce.

In the last few months I’ve discovered a couple of Car Clubs which are there to discourage personal car ownership and provide a convenient way of hiring a vehicle for a short time. It so happens that Enterprise Car Club operate locally, and off the back of a planned visit to Dundee I also discovered Co Wheels. Now I’ll admit that I’m probably farther down the route of considering an EV as my main mode of transport rather than giving up personal transportation (yes – I’m really bad with two personal vehicles) so I’m a little embarassed that I didn’t give up my VW Golf and BMW GS Adventure before hiring those cars but hopefully get a few points for starting the journey (if you forgive the pun).

So in order, here’s some more EVs that I’ve had the experience of driving.

Fourth EV Drive – Nissan Leaf – Enterprise Car Club

After the Tesla Model S hire with Enterprise, I discovered that Enterprise Car Club in Edinburgh have a number of Nissan Leafs at locations, and ultimately decided to take a short hire of a car in Fife to see how I got on with the car.

There was a gap of a couple of months between sign up (which involved license stuff etc) and hire. The actual hire process was very slick through the app on Android. I rocked up to the car, booked the car through the app and the car opened up for me.

With EVs both car clubs operate in the same way, they are given allocated parking spaces with EV Charging (much to the consternation of other EV users if comments on Zap-map are representative) and one has to leave the car on charge when finishing the hire. When starting one has to remember to take the charging cable with the car.

My wife came along for the experience and she liked the leaf, unfortunately for me the foot parking brake caught me out and the driving position didn’t fit me – I’m quite tall and have an aforementioned dodgy left knee. We drove around Fife a little and I tried a couple of charging points. The Leaf had Android Auto which was excellent for quick navigation.

I didn’t quite gel with the Leaf which annoyed me slightly as it’s very popular but it eliminated it as a future option and having driven it I wouldn’t wish to do so again. Although performance was good when not in eco mode, the handling was a bit bouncy and the front wheel drive loaded up the steering quite a bit.

Nissan Leaf charging at a charger in Glenrothes
Nissan Leaf charging in Glenrothes

Fifth EV Drive – BMW i3 – Co Wheels Car Club

After a couple of months it came to city break time and a random internet search popped up a number of BMW i3 and MG ZS EV in Dundee. Rather than having a relaxing time in our accommodation I dragged my wife around Dundee in pursuit of trying different electric vehicles.

Co Wheels are slightly different than Enterprise in that they rely on a smart card only for managing the hire process but this worked fine for the two cars we tried.

Unfortunately the i3 was in short supply over the bank holiday weekend we were in Dundee so in the end I only managed to sneak in a short hire of 1.5 hours. This meant I didn’t get opportunity to go far or to try charging it up, but it was really handy being 5 minutes away from where we were staying at Staybridge Suites in Dundee. Finally note that the car club cars are on the top (13th) floor of the Olympia multi-storey. Top tip is that there are lifts at each end which is a lot faster if you have a time slot to make.

The i3 was the reverse of our experience with the Leaf – my wife didn’t get on with the seating position and the seat belt in particular was angled really uncomfortably for her. My wife is quite a bit shorter than me and the rear door arrangement means that the seatbelt is part of the reverse door. My driving position was fine with seat in it’s lowest position and right back.

Driving position was fine even if the seat was a bit flat, and driving dynamics were excellent – really good regen and a good punch out of roundabouts and at junctions. The challenge was the dashboard and view forwards – there is a large space between the front seats and the base of the windscreen. The short nose means it’s quite tricky to place the corners, where on an ICE car you have the sides of the bonnet (hood for non British readers). The age of the i3 also means that it doesn’t have Android Auto so one would have to use the built in kit (albeit being BMW based this was rather good).

The i3 was a bit out there and too small for us to have as a car, but as a drive was excellent.

Sixth EV Drive – MG ZS EV – Co Wheels Car Club

After the compact “city runabout” of the BMW i3 we hired an MG ZS EV in Dundee. This is a small SUV styled EV and although I have a slight aversion to SUVs I was in the mood to try everything.

I walked the mile or so to collect the MG and drove back to the hotel to pick up MrsL. Yet another way of engaging forward and reverse (this time a dial in the centre console) but the bonus of Android Auto made the navigation a doddle.

We took a drive to Perth and all was fine – a little bouncy but plenty of room, very easy to drive and pretty much eventless. I understand the MG is a good priced vehicle and it seemed a decent car – for an SUV! My wife liked the interior which had a little bit of a budget Mercedes theme going on and I even stopped off for a charge at the Garden Centre between Perth and Dundee. All in all a good car but I like sportier handling (like the i3!).

MG ZS EV Charging in Perth
Charging at Glendoick Garden Centre

Unfortunately things got complicated when I came to return the car. The Car Club Model means that you return the vehicle to it’s parking space and plug it in to charge. Unfortunately the charging session would not start and I ended up bouncing between Co Wheels and ChargePlace Scotland on the phone. I don’t know what the problem was but it was the only dampener on an otherwise eventless hire.