For the last few months, I’ve been doing a bit of an experiment with our Mazda MX-30. One of the many barriers it’s often said will slow the take-up of EVs is that, here in Britain, not everyone can charge their car at home.
If your house has no off-street parking – which is often the case in the UK’s big towns and cities – or you’re in a third floor flat, your only chance is to rely on public chargers.
So, in the spirit of solidarity – and, if I’m honest, because my rented house can’t have a charge point fitted – I’ve been topping the MX-30 up exclusively while out and about.
After 2,400 miles of public charger-fed miles, I can safely say that yes – it is possible to survive without a home charger. However, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your life…
For me at least, the biggest issue hasn’t been where to charge, but when. The temptation is to come home after a long journey, leave the car bereft of charge and simply top it up at a rapid charger the next time you need to go anywhere. However, the MX-30 doesn’t seem to appreciate being rapid charged with a ‘cold’ battery. And by ‘cold’ I mean, not having been used in 12 hours.
Mazda quotes the MX-30’s rapid charging time at 35 minutes from 20 to 80 per cent, which is about par for the course on cars with batteries of this size. But curiously, this seems to only be the case when the battery is hot from use – such as after a long motorway journey. Leave the car sat for a day or so, and the same rapid charge to 80 per cent will seemingly take well over an hour, often much longer.
The best option is to top the battery back up to full charge immediately after every trip – which is fine, but does mean nearly an hour sat at a rapid charger before you get home. Or, if there’s a 7kWh ‘fast’ charger nearby, leave it there overnight and walk the rest of the way.
These are, of course, unlikely scenarios for anyone buying an MX-30 – it’d be a bit like buying an iPhone with no way of charging it at home. Yes, you probably could survive by topping it up at random plug sockets on your travels, but it may not be the most sensible device for you. Might I suggest a nice Nokia 3310, or perhaps a wind-up radio?
Despite all the charging faff of my current residence though, I still find myself choosing to take the MX-30 for pretty much every journey – even if it means factoring in time for a top-up before or after.
There’s something about driving an EV that gets under your skin. Shamefully I’ve never been very environmentally-conscious – though I do rinse out tins before I recycle them, if anyone from Kettering Borough Council is reading this – but it’s nice to know that I’m not choking local children with my exhaust fumes wherever I go.
Aside from all the heated debates around the environment though, EVs are just so much more pleasant to pilot around on the repetitive, dull journeys that us humans have to make every week. Everything is quiet and serene, power is instantaneous, and on top of all that, your trip will probably be a fraction of the cost.
There’s a bit more to it than that, of course – I think I’d be reaching for the MX-30 keys even if it had a petrol engine under the bonnet (which, incidentally, in some bits of the world it does). The jury’s still out for me on whether it deserves to share a bit of its name with the legendary MX-5 sports car, but for a tall crossover-y thing it doesn’t half drive well.
The steering is precise and well-weighted, and it corners with a very pleasing sense of fluidity. Even the brake pedal feel is pretty good – a hard trick to pull off on an EV with all its regenerative gubbins. It’s far more engaging and confidence-inspiring than many of its rival EVs, and after all, why shouldn’t an electric car be fun around the twisty stuff?
In short then, things are still going well in my new life as an EV driver. With an impending house move, too, a home wall box is in my future – which means I should be able to spend more time driving the MX-30, rather than sat inside it waiting for the rapid charge to finish…
Model: Mazda MX-30 GT Sport Tech
Price: £30,345 (after Govt grant)
Engine: Single electric motor
0-60mph: 9.7 seconds
Top speed: 87mph
Fuel economy: 19kWh / 100km