London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Sunday, Sep 24, 2023

Tried and tested: the realities of driving electric cars in London

Tried and tested: the realities of driving electric cars in London

For a greener capital, the switch to electric vehicles is important, but is the charging infrastructure there yet? Here are three Londoners who put the cars through their paces

Electric cars are undoubtedly the future, in terms of developing a greener, safer capital. But what is the reality of using them right now? With electric vehicle owners set to pay road tax for the first time after the new budget, there may be more reason for scepticism on top of charging anxiety. Yet, the need is there, so we asked three Londoners to try out a vehicle to see if they are functional and fun, and if the charging infrastructure is up to speed. The verdict from our drivers? Mixed!

“So easy”

Elisa Bray swapped her petrol car for an electric SUV — the Volkswagen ID4 — and enjoyed the comfort and quiet of a guilt-free car run.

Daniel Hambury

I drive a Renault Twingo for the school run, which is among the smallest cars into which you can cram three children, and perfect for London parking, so I was full of trepidation about driving an SUV. Luckily the gadgets of this electric car quickly helped me get over my worries.

Parking and reversing were surprisingly easy thanks to the sensors; you can see the distance between your car and those in front and behind, and lines guide the direction to steer. With a dodgy shoulder due to lugging a heavy toddler around, it was a relief not to have to constantly crane my neck to check distances.

The “heads up display” meant the speedometer was helpfully projected onto the windscreen along with the compulsory speed limit. Google Maps was also on the screen to adapt to traffic — when I could locate it.

The screen is complicated to manoeuvre, which isn’t ideal when you’re focusing on the road while contending with the chatter of small people. However, the children could be appeased by connecting my phone to the entertainment system with Apple CarPlay to play their favourite music on Spotify.

Our two-mile school run is 10 minutes on a good day, and half an hour in stop-start traffic at worst. I’m used to making these short, polluting journeys as economical as possible, driving smoothly to conserve fuel, so it’s been refreshing to use the brake mode: one-foot driving where the car automatically slows down when you take your foot off the accelerator. It’s easier for driving in stop-start traffic and beyond efficient given that braking recharges the battery.

A petrol car of this size would be a real gas-guzzler so we enjoyed not having to think about fuel cost, our impact on air pollution or petrol running out as we kept an eye on the electric-mileage gauge. Incredibly, the miles didn’t even drop on one of those painfully long four-mile round trips, because of the regenerating battery.

The 245-mile capacity of the ID4’s battery more than lasted a week, and charging was clean and convenient while doing the supermarket shop.

For the children, comfort was the draw. With no exhaust tunnel, bespoke EV-architecture cars have flat floors which meant there was equal legroom for my eldest child in the middle seat as either side. Downloading the car app allowed us to set the heating before we got into the car, and not having to drag children out the house early on a winter’s morning into a freezing cold car is a definite plus.

The ID4 took off beautifully, there was no roll back on hills and we couldn’t feel the many potholes in the area.

All in all, we loved how comfortable, smooth, and easy to charge and drive it was. Size wasn’t an issue. And the serene silence after dropping off the children at school was golden.

Elisa drove a Volkswagen ID-4, starting from £37,410.


Nick Howells wanted to test out the Ford Mustang Mach-E on one of his regional sojourns but its charge thirst wasn’t compatible with his off-grid holiday.

Nick Howells

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? That was the title of prescient science fiction writer Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel. Well, for some time I’ve been dreaming of electric cars. Smooth, quiet driving, no iffy emissions polluting the air we breathe, saving the planet… what’s not to love?

On first impressions, the Mustang Mach-E had all the elements I would expect from a reasonably high-end (around £60,000) electric car: iPhone-type buttons to open the doors, a massive central touchscreen to control everything, luxurious and infinitely adjustable seats.

It turned out to be incredibly easy and enjoyable to drive too: just twist a dial for forwards, backwards or park, and put your foot down. I even found a setting where you didn’t have to use the brake; simply releasing your foot from the accelerator slows or stops the car.

It also accelerates like a cheetah, which was useful for zipping past traffic on busy single-lane roads, even when going uphill. Before setting off from London for a three-night camping trip in Devon with my daughter, I was aware that there might be a little elephant in the room, though: range anxiety.

Our drive was 270 miles and the range 200, so I planned to stop 160 miles in, at a quirky American diner that had a couple of quick chargers. But when we arrived at the diner, both chargers were being used. We parked up to wait 40 minutes before it was our turn, then dined for about an hour and 20 minutes to get a full charge.

I had hoped not to need another charge for our stay, but by the second day, it became clear that we didn’t have enough range to drive to a stone circle on Dartmoor, return to the campsite and then get to a charge point the following morning.

Sadly all the local chargers were so slow that by the following night I’d spent more than two hours in concrete car parks that day instead of relaxing on a beach.

We did manage to plug into a fast charger to go home the next day, but… 30 miles outside London we had to recharge yet again.

Cue one broken charger and one busy charger (no idea how long we would have to wait) on a desolate industrial estate with just a crap restaurant that we didn’t want to eat in. It was 7pm, I was shattered from driving and dreaming of my sofa.

Did I love my Mustang? Yes, it’s a fabulous car. However, a holiday dominated by recharging isn’t my idea of fun. It’s not Ford’s fault; there just weren’t enough decent chargers in rural Devon.

It certainly would not put me off ever getting an electric car. I just hope the UK gets a gigantic boost in fast charge points for rural areas so that I can stop dreaming and start buying.

Nick drove a Ford Mustang E-Mach, Ford’s first all-electric SUV. From £49,950.


Tristan Wynne, 29, drove a Peugeot e-208 and was pleased to find it was the almost-perfect local runaround. It even had space in the back for his black Labrador, Rudy.

David Moffett

Like many people who work flexibly — sometimes popping in to an office on public transport and sometimes from home—I don’t use my car much, but I do still like to have one to get around on errands, to my weekly squash game and on weekend jaunts with my wife and our young dog, Rudy. I was keen to see if going electric might suit us, ahead of choosing a new car. The Peugeot e-208 seemed a great choice for us from the start. It looks great and has lots of modern features, a 200-mile suggested range on full charge and space in the back for the dog.

Driving around the city on local trips, the car was excellent: comfortable, super smooth yet zippy. It was fun to drive and I found myself feeling cheerful — not your normal feeling when in London traffic — whether I was nipping down to Tesco or popping to the gym. What’s great about electric cars is that the power is there immediately and hill starts are not a problem. The car also had some really cool functions, like cruise control (I had to watch a YouTube video to find out how that worked). I particularly liked the proximity key engine start where you can just keep the key in your pocket and still start the engine. Most of the time driving around London, I found it was easy to keep my range anxiety under control. In our area (East Dulwich) there are lots of charging points, including a pay-as-you-go lamppost outside our flat. There are apps and websites that can track your spend and how much charge there is remaining. I used for the lamppost charger and Pod Point in Tesco.

At the weekend it was enjoyable to take it for a longer jaunt, to the in-laws in Oxfordshire — although I did notice that driving on the motorway depleted its range very fast, faster than I was expecting. I hadn’t realised how much a wet and cold day would impact it either. The battery life isn’t as obvious to work out as petrol levels, which made me slightly anxious about traffic jams.

Working out the costs of charging with different companies and apps can be a bit overwhelming, too — and a full charge can cost from £15 to £50. But overall my experience has made me feel positive towards electric cars. Based on my experience I would think of buying an EV, but if making long trips would opt for one with a bigger range.


Related Articles

London Daily
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
You Are So Beautiful
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Sattahip Motor Show 20
Greek PM offers tourists affected by wildfires a free stay in Rhodes next year.
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
A kiss to build a dream on
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
Mean Blues
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
La Chansonnette
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Pattaya Addicts
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Dream a little dream of me
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
How “peacekeepers” at the UN spend our American tax dollars.
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Rondo Alla Turca
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
Kiss of fire
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
San Francisco car crash
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
This camera man is a genius
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
La vie en rose
Next level gaming
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
BMW driver…
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to
Only you (And you alone)
The future of sport
Strangers In The Night
New York City Agrees to Compensate Demonstrators Subjected to Excessive Force and Unlawful Arrests Amidst Widespread Protests
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
Paul Simon: "I can't perform anymore due to hearing loss"
Summer time
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
The future of sports
Aux Champs Elysees
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Swedish Embassy in Baghdad Engulfed in Flames Amidst a Firestorm of Protests
Radiohead - Creep
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Pentatonix Havana
House of Commons rejects nine significant amendments from the Unelected, Privilaged House of Lord - Overturn Crucial Migration Bill Amendments in a Bid to Curb Unauthorized Maritime Immigration
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Muslim Tycoon Asif Aziz Receives Approval for the Transformation of the iconic London Trocadero Landmark into Mosque
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
Europe is boiling: Extreme Weather Conditions Prevail Across the Continent
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Hospitalized Due to Dehydration Amidst Summer Heatwave
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river