I Laugh In The Face Of Electric Vehicle Range Anxiety!

Regular readers will know now (perhaps to the point of boredom?) I am an owner and driver of a Better Place Renault Fluence ZE fully electric car. It’s a big battery, a small motor and car shaped bit for my family and I to sit in.

I wrote about last week’s trip to Jerusalem and mentioned that it was only the first longish drive I took last week. The second trip was an evening night out with my wife to see the Comedy for Koby show on it’s last night in Beit Shemesh. Dave went to an earlier evening and I saw other good feedback about the show on twitter.

Beit Shemesh is almost exactly 60km from my home making a round trip of 120km. Without conservative driving I reckon the Fluence ZE will regularly deliver 130 to 140km of range so 120km is tight. However, there is a working battery switch station, not far from the road to Beit Shemesh at the Anava junction near Modi’in so I knew I had backup.

Brian's Better Place Renault Fluence ZE Electric Car EV

As usual things did not go smoothly in the run up to leaving for the show. I drove home from work around 5pm and parked at home: my kids were down the hill in a small park at an event organised by the council. Face painting, various running and jumping activities, dancing, music etc had all been laid on.

By the time we managed to leave it was close to the time we should have been travelling to Beit Shemesh. On the plus side, my car had been parked at home long enough to completely replace the 10% of battery I’d used in the course of my drive to and from work.

Eventually, after safta (grandmother) had turned up and the youngest had smashed an egg on the floor, we left at 19:45 for a show starting at 20:30. Everyone knows that turning up late to a comedy show and making ones way to, inevitably, the only spare seat right in front of the comedian is, ehhh not for the shy.

I drove in a “spirited” fashion shall we say. I did not spare the horses. I paid no attention to range predictions or battery use, only to the state of the road and the traffic. This Renault is easily capable of travelling as fast as anything else on Israeli roads. By these means we sat down a little late (in the front row of course) just as the video presentation about the Koby Mandell charity was coming to an end.

Crucially this was before the comedy started: we were not the butt of any jokes!

The show was spectacularly good. I’ve seen the very best in stand up comedy over the years: Rowan Atkinson, Jackie Mason to name two and I used to regularly attend comedy nights back in the UK. I have seen many of the most famous stand ups to have come out of the UK over the last 20 years. This show as on a par with any of the best nights I’ve ever seen. I’m only sorry I’m telling you after it’s over.

If you have a chance to see any of the four comedians who played, take it. The Beit Shemesh crowd, consisting largely of modern observant Jews, was a bit of a strange crowd but all the comedians (two of them were non-Jewish) coped admirably with them. These are not the ultra religious Haeredi community, but they’re certainly not a permissive Tel Aviv crowd. I don’t think anyone there would have been offended by that show and it was so good to see comedy that didn’t need foul language or crude imagery to be hilariously funny. In particular Kivi Rogers and Ron Pearson (neither Jewish) were excellent: if they had markedly tailored their show for that audience I wasn’t aware of it.

There was a bit of a strange moment in Ron’s show where a rather bizarre male member of the audience refused to hug him. Weird. The rest of his act was unaffected and he did fine with other audience participation.

Avi Liberman compèred and was excellent demonstrating a good knowledge of local issues and upper West Side New Yorker Cory Kahaney gave a great performance. For a good interview with Avi, see here.

Both my wife and I laughed harder and longer than we’ve laughed in a long time. End to end a great show.

So when we got in the car we did what any good Jews would do: asked each other where we would go to get some food (see Jackie Mason for details).

Better Place’s Oscar navigation system provided the answer very quickly and we headed off a couple of km’s to get a burger.

Burger completed and it’s around 23:15. We get in the car and I punch in home as the destination to see what Oscar’s prediction of our battery will be when we get there. A red 0% greets me. This is not so amusing.

I’m fairly certain I know the reason but this is my first trip to the edge of my range with my wife in the car. She was surprisingly un-perturbed. I also knew that on our way home we did pass relatively close to the Anava battery switch station.

That station was about 27km from our starting point and most of that down hill. However, stopping there would mean around 15 minutes extra on our journey and that would be 15 more minutes before we could get home to send my wife’s parents home. We were already on target to arrive at 00:30 and 00:45 would be, well, fifteen minutes less good.

I resolved it this way. We would head off and as long as the range prediction had improved to something positive before we passed the motorway junction for the switch, we would carry on without switching.

As I expected within 10km of setting off at a more sedate (but not unduly slow) pace, the system was predicting we would make it home. I drove normally on highway 1 at 90 to 100 kmh and the battery prediction kept going up till it settled on around 10%.

As we left the motorway near my home we crossed a 12% threshold where the systems flashed red and gave a firm warning. As we pulled into the car park at my home the battery showed 9% remaining. Everything was fine.

A short extra note. Upon plugging in the car at 00:31 the onboard diagnostics reported that it would take 9 hrs 45 mins to recharge. When I next checked at 07:37 the car was fully charged. Clearly it took less than 7hrs so the initial estimate was inaccurate.

As Better Place continue their roll out of switching stations (we have only 4 now but should have 38 by the end of the summer) the options get greater. It’s still good to know that even without overt defensive driving I can make a trip like that in one go.

About Brian of London

Brian of London is not the messiah, he's a very naughty boy. Since making aliyah in 2009, Brian has blogged at Israellycool. Brian's interests include electric cars, world peace and an end to world hunger. Besides blogging here, Brian of London now writes at the Times of Israel. Brian of London also hosted Shire Network News

Facebook Comments

  • juvanya

    This is all really cool. Im glad youre enjoying it. Id love to take a ride in one, but the entrepreneurs here dont appear to have come up with this concept, even tho my high school history teacher was able to.

  • Morris the Katz

    Let me know when I can drive 500km without recharging, and recharging takes the same or less time as filling the tank, including using the rest room.

    The price of oil is falling, supplies are rapidly increasing (despite the sanctions on Iran), and this trend is likely to continue for many, many years, what with an increase of “tight” oil production in the USA and Canada, huge increases in Iraq, and huge offshore discoveries off the coast of Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico. And did I forget Israel?

    The USA imports 40% of its oil, down from 60% in 2005. That percentage will likely drop to 20% by 2020 or sooner, because of increased discoveries and IMPROVEMENTS TO THE GOOD ‘OL INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE. That’s the percentage of oil the US imported in 1970.

    You won’t be hearing “Gentlemen, start your motors” anytime soon on a big scale.

    • http://www.israellycool.com/author/brianoflondon/ Brian of London

      I agree, the US isn’t going to have any significant uptake or impact on EVs in the next 5 or 10 years. The US, as a producer of EVs will once again be eclipsed by the rest of the world. The benefits of clean air in cities will pass the US by. The benefits of combined overnight storage of excess renewable energy will pass the US by.

      But the main one for me: you won’t be driving a car smoother and quieter than $200,000 Merc, BMW or Lexus for less than the cost of a normal family car any time soon.

      The need for a 500km range is an illusion. If you fill your petrol car once a week or once a month makes no difference to you. Plugging in at home takes less thought or effort than a weekly or even monthly trip to fill up. Switching my battery does take the same time (and arguably less effort) than filling up with gas: it’s full service, I drive in, switch and go.

      Focus on this: I’ve driven 903 miles so far and the only electricity I needed was delivered slowly via a wire. The switches I’ve made were all (it turns out) for fun. Only the switch on the way to Jerusalem was slightly different because I had not seen with my own eyes the charging points at the shopping mall. Tonight I’m driving to the same destination in Jerusalem with my whole family and an aunt but this time I wont stop to switch (unless the kids demand it) because I know I’ll be parked long enough in Jerusalem not to need it.

      No matter what happens with the global oil market, every step we take to reduce the power of OPEC (which I agree is diminishing for other reasons) is a good step. I also greatly look forward to the point where significant electric cars have a visible effect on the air pollution that my kids breath. Here in Israel it’s a no-brainer to do this.

    • juvanya

      The one time a season youll need to drive 250-500km, you could rent a gas car. And as Brian has shown, the battery changing stations are comparable in time to filling up.

      The price of oil, if falling, is because of the return to deep recession. Supplies are not increasing. Iran has shitty oil. Israel has a limited supply of oil, theres much more natural gas. Of course it could be that there is much much much more oil that has yet to have been discovered.

      Source that oil imports are down 20pp? Ive never heard that before. and ICE improvements have not really dented usage much yet.

      • Norman B.

        The big change in oil supply is the discoveries in the northern Great Plains that have reduced American imports. Canada is also extracting large quantities from the Alberta oil sands.

  • http://www.thestandupcenter.com/ Stand Up Comedy

    Great article. Read an article I did with Avi Liberman six months ago at http://www.thestandupcenter.com/blog/AviLiberman.aspx

    • http://www.israellycool.com/author/brianoflondon/ Brian of London

      Thanks for that link, I’ll add it to the post!

Israellycool is testing Sovevos. Click for more info.