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Interviews with EV Drivers: Sam’s Electric Vehicle Driving Experience

Sam Illsley, Head of Public Sector at Mer UK – Public Charging, has been driving electric vehicles for four years.
Electric Car Driving on Road

In this blog, Sam shares his experiences as an EV driver, including: 

  • A typical ‘day in the life’ of an EV 
  • EV charging habits 
  • Advice for new EV drivers 

How long have you been driving an electric car? What made you switch to electric?

I first drove an electric car (BMW i3) in 2019. There was a great monthly EV subscription service called Ev-ezy (now On.to if it’s still around!), which I used for six months to test out if an EV would work with our family lifestyle and convince my wife that switching to electric wasn’t that scary! She loved it and how easy it was to drive in comparison to our old manual gear shift but roll on six months and the Covid lockdown hit, so we handed the car back with one month’s notice and didn’t need a car for a few months.  

Why did we switch to electric? Several key reasons: we needed a new family car, I’ve always been an environmentally conscious individual throughout my career and working in the EV sector I wanted to experience first-hand the real-life pros and cons of driving electric.   

In 2022, after a long wait, our new family EV arrived, through our work salary sacrifice scheme with Octopus.  

What electric vehicle do you currently drive? 

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate (77kWh battery) 

Man standing by electric car while charging

What might a typical ‘day in the life’ look like for your EV? What sort of mileage do you cover in a week?

This is the vanilla part – nothing exciting or different to an ICE car if I am honest. A typical day would involve us driving a 10 mile, 25 minute round trip to drop our son off at nursery and pick him up later that day. At weekends we might drive a short distance into the Chilterns for a country walk and pub lunch, or visit family a circa 1:15 hour drive away. None of our day-to-day use requires me to charge my EV anywhere other than our own home. On average we cover around 120 miles a week. 

I do use the car for work and visiting different local authorities that Mer works with across the UK. Again, a lot of Councils I work with are within range for my car to travel there and back on one charge. If they aren’t, I will either park up for a few hours for the duration of my meeting on an AC charger, or have a short coffee stop on route for a rapid DC charge. 

Where do you usually charge your EV?

I would say 95% of the charging I probably do from home. I’m lucky enough to have a driveway, and through the salary sacrifice scheme had a home EV charger installed for free. With an off-peak overnight tariff, it costs me £0.09/kWh to charge up.  

Working this out for 2024 year to date so far, my home charger tells me I have used a total of 693kWh electricity, and my car mileage is just over 2,100. I haven’t needed to use a public charger yet this year, only charging once using the granny 3-pin plug when away for a weekend visiting friends. That works out as £62.37 spent on electricity to travel over 2,100 miles.  

We’re due a family holiday down to Cornwall in June [...] We may branch off and try the new Mer chargers at Sanders Garden Centre

When charging on the public EV network, what has your experience been like? Have you faced any challenges?

In 2019, I had numerous issues with public infrastructure being out of order. But in the past couple of years, thankfully I have no real issues to report. We have observed some of the ‘pinch points’ of motorway services getting noticeably busier. We’re due a family holiday down to Cornwall in June and normally would stop at Exeter services to charge. We may branch off and try the new Mer chargers at Sanders Garden Centre off the M5 as an alternative stop off point to charge up and grab a coffee.   

Do you have a favourite place to charge on the Mer public network?

I wouldn’t say I have a favourite station but more a case of anywhere that is convenient! We had a short family holiday down in Dorset near Weymouth last year and the mix of fast and rapid chargers Mer have installed across the County was fantastic. It meant we could leave the car charging for a few hours while we spent time on the beach and didn’t have to stop for a charge for our journey home back to Reading.  

What is your favourite thing about driving in an EV?

They are so easy to drive, spacious and quiet.  

I fully believe if people were able to trial an EV for a couple of weeks then any concerns they may have had would be addressed.

Do you have any advice for drivers thinking about buying an EV?

Just try it. I’ve successfully failed to convince both my parents and brother in law to convert to a full EV in the past two years. What was even more infuriating was then my father proudly telling me that he had only filled up his plug-in hybrid once with petrol in the first year of having the car! Meaning the 45mile range on their plug in hybrid was actually covering all their day to day use with range to spare. 

I fully believe if people were able to trial an EV for a couple of weeks then any concerns they may have had would be addressed. As mentioned earlier, I speak from the fortunate perspective of someone with a driveway – and there is still a challenge for those with on-street parking. However, the next 24 months is going to be transformative in terms of public on-street infrastructure roll out with the LEVI funding being distributed to local authorities. It’s not possible to provide every single house with their own dedicated charger or bay, but that isn’t necessary either – I top my car up with charge every 7-10 days and don’t need to plug in every single night. Add into the mix the ever expanding network of public chargers in public car parks, supermarkets, petrol forecourts, garden centres, retail parks, gyms, hotels etc., and there are so many more flexible options for charging up versus conventional ICE vehicles.

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