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.


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 is an indigenous rights activist fighting for indigenous people who’ve returned to their ancestral homelands and built great things.