The increase in electric cars on the road has created a whole new way of meeting people, writes Brian Byrne
EVERY time I take an electric car for review, I learn something more about electric motoring. No, not necessarily from the car, but from the people I meet at charging points.
It’s kind of like a pub that deals a lot with passing trade. Short enough visits, but time enough to say hello to strangers, and strike up short but pleasant relationships.
There’s still a community spirit around electric cars, even now when there are so many more of them about. More models, more brands, more range diversity.
But it’s also because there are more EVs about that you get the chance to meet such people, because there can be a bit of a wait to hook up if there are more cars than plug-in facilities.
In fairness, I haven’t had to wait often, and then only 10 or 15 minutes.
And because it’s still a relatively new ‘club’, there’s invariably a level of courtesy and friendliness somewhat above what you find at the fill, pay and go petrol pumps.
Indeed, maybe because EV owners are used to taking that extra time to ‘fill up’, they seem to be a much more relaxed bunch.
Personalities can often relate to the age of the cars they’re driving.
Like the woman with the 2016 second hand Nissan Leaf who commutes from Dublin to Kilkenny, and the range of her car just about allows that. But sometimes she has to go to Waterford, and I met her at my local Circle K, having a sandwich-and-crisps lunch while she gave her car a boost. She had a book on her lap.
‘I get to read a lot,’ she said, adding that even with the limited range for her relatively long drives, she wouldn’t go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) car. ‘It’s saving me a lot of money.’
There was another woman with a Peugeot e-208 she has had for the last six months. From just outside Limerick, she was figuring out the system at the new charge points at Junction 14 near Monasterevin.
‘I haven’t used one before,’ she said as she peered at the screen, ESB card in hand. She charges at home all the time, and the car has been working perfectly for her local driving with just plugging it in twice a week.
She was stopped at Junction 14 while on the way to meet her daughter at Kildare Village, because she wanted enough charge to go straight home again afterwards. I said it was delaying her from her meeting.
‘No, it’s saving me money. As soon as we meet up the spending will start!’
As I was topping up a Renault Kangoo ZE van last week, a Tesla pulled in beside me, parents and a brace of children on board. Clearly well used to it, they hooked up and sat, relaxed, as their car was charging. I disconnected and pulled out. As I drove around the circle to leave the woman from the Tesla got out and waved me down. ‘You forgot to close your flap,’ she said with a friendly smile. ‘Will I close it for you?’
Courtesy to a van driver, from the driver of an expensive Tesla. You don’t get that at the petrol or diesel pumps!
Those I’ve mentioned have all been women, but the reactions are equally laid back from the men I’ve been meeting.
And there have been hardly any negative vibes about their electric choice.
The main concern is that, now that there are more of their kind, the public charging points are showing the strain.
The infrastructure IS improving all the time, but will need to be ramped up further if serious queuing is to be avoided.
It would be a shame if all this well of patience and bonhomie I’ve been experiencing was to be lost.
It’s doing us all good. Like when, before motorways, there was always a small pub on the journey at which to take a break.
The charge point area is the small pub, while the ICE forecourt is a big Wetherspoons.