Living Electric: Kia Niro – 1,000 km road trip »EFTM
Range is one of the biggest concerns and questions people have about electric cars. As a nation as large as Australia, how could we enjoy our way of life on long road trips when electric vehicles have such short range? Well let me put that to the test in the Kia Niro with a 1,000 km round trip to visit my mom.
I drive the Kia Niro, a $ 70,000 electric car. Kia describes the Niro as an “electrified crossover SUV.” Although it has a hatchback shape, it is much bigger than a Kia Cerato, but smaller than the midsize SUV that is the Sportage.
Under perfect conditions, at 100% charge, the Kia Niro showed me a range of 480 km. Now, as we’ve learned, this can be more affected by the weather (cold temperatures mean you’re losing range), as well as the style and speed of your ride.
The most important thing for the concept of âroad tripâ is speed. As soon as you start driving for a long time at over 90 km / h, you start to burn the battery. It’s basically the opposite of a gasoline car. You know that in the city you get 12 to 13 liters per 100 km, but on the highway it drops to 7 or 8 liters per 100? In an EV, it’s more efficient in town.
On average, of the over 2,000 km of driving that I have driven in the Kia Niro, we use 16.2 kWh per 100 km of driving. I noticed that on a hard-hitting 110 km / h country road, it was using over 20 kWh per 100 km.
So the first lesson here is that if you think your electric vehicle has a range of 480 km, don’t expect it to go that far if you’re doing a big highway race. That doesn’t mean it will drop to 400, but you could lose 20% of the range.
In addition, we want to be comfortable, so air conditioning is also a drain on this âpossibleâ range.
Here’s the problem though – it only matters if you’re trying to go over 400 km and there’s no point in recharging along the way.
For the most part, at least in NSW from what I was looking at, there are chargers every 200 miles on major highways.
I rode 250 km to the first loader on my trip – to Scone. This is an NRMA charger located at the back of the shops on the main street in a parking lot.
We were at 41% battery life. Because this is a 50kW charger, that means it sends up to 50kW of power at any given time, compared to the 2kW your home power point would do, I don’t. I only had to stop for about 25 minutes to get up to 80% charge.
A walk down the street, have a drink, make a few phone calls, then get back to the car and we’re at 83%, with a range of 380 km – enough to easily get to mom’s house some 200 km away.
But, I would stop again, because at mom’s house, there is only a power outlet, and I learned by testing that at 3% battery, this car would take 35 hours to fully charge. So I wanted to stop at Tamworth again to hopefully have more than enough drums for much of the trip home.
In Tamworth, the NRMA Charger is located just off Main Street, in a parking lot across from Officeworks.
It was lunch time so 30 minutes later we were over the 80% mark again and plenty of juice for the remaining trip and then much of the trip back.
I did this to moms with 61% battery power, having driven 450km and stopping for an hour total the entire trip.
I brought the standard wall charger with me, plugged it into a normal outlet at the moms pub, and went inside to chat, have a meal and a long rest.
The car predicted it would take 15 hours until it was 100% charged, which meant I would easily start the return trip on full battery.
With that in mind, the next day I decided to take a different route home.
I drove the winding Oxley Highway through Wauchope to Port Macquarie. The reason for this is that the chargers supported by NRMA on the Pacific Highway are operated by Chargefox and are “super fast”.
One of the main advantages of the ChargeFox system is its application. You can look at any charging point and see if it is in use. And when you get there, it’s all initiated and paid for using the app.
While the NRMA chargers at Scone and Tamworth are now free, in the long run they will be free for NRMA members and paid for others.
ChargeFox was 40c per kWh. So I paid a touch of over $ 9 at Port Macquarie for my 80% fast charge.
I noticed this one reaches a load of 69 kW, I think the Kia NIRO is capable of 75 kW. The reason I haven’t seen it much higher is that the fastest charge rates will be seen in less loaded cars. The higher your âtankâ, the slower the power comes. As soon as you hit 80%, the chargers drop to 22kW and drop as they approach 100%.
On the way to Karuah, and this little bottom which has been bypassed by the highway, has its chargers in a small old BP gas station. There is a bakery across the road, some snacks in the BP so you’re good for a quick recharge.
Here our charge rate hit 73kW at first because it was just below 40%, but after that it dropped above 50kW before going to 80% load.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the stop at ChargeFox Karuah was the arrival of two more cars. A Nissan Leaf and an Audi e-tron. Of the thousands of cars on the road, these are the only two I saw at charging points during my trip.
Finally, after a run on the highway and in my driveway, after 999.8 km on the road, 12 hours and 24 minutes of driving at an average of 16.8 kWh per 100 km, I was home.
Zero battery anxiety. Not at all. It was child’s play.
Of course, this required more research than a gasoline road trip – there are gas stations everywhere, so never a problem. For this trip, I used a website called PlugShare to check charging locations and plan my trip.
Inside the Kia Niro, built-in satellite navigation allows you to add charging stops. However, mainstream automakers simply failed this part of the experiment.
Get in a Tesla in Brisbane, tell him you are going to Adelaide and he will plan a trip, with charging stops and tell you how long to charge at each location.
The new Polestar 2 integrates Google’s automotive platform, so your Google Maps will let you see charging locations and charging time.
Kia Navigation didn’t even know there was a loader at Scone so Heaven help me move forward. Your Smartphone is king here. Plugshare is the best all-station charging locator out there, but I think we need Google Maps to allow anyone to take electric vehicle road trips, so we’re a winner.
The Kia Niro has a WLTP range of 455 km. Since I was on track to travel 450 km to mum, that was never going to be enough. With a bit of ease of use, I think it would have been 440 or maybe 430. But in reality, only a 5 minute charge on either of the fast chargers would have been needed to “make it happen.” “. When you consider your downtime at your destination, wall charging will probably be sufficient most of the time, but the reality is that with a charger every 200 km, you’re crazy not to stop for a coffee and a recharge. fast at the same time.
Stop, relive, survive as they say.
Aside from my documentation of every EV stat along the way, it felt like normal driving. Calm, easy, relaxed.
Adaptive Cruising worked wonderfully on highways, although I would say it tended to back up when trying to regulate speed on descents. Weird braking feeling unlike anything you get in a gasoline car on the cruise control.
We’re going to see the family at Young this coming weekend, there are chargers in Picton, Goulburn, Yass and Young so absolutely no worries about taking the Kia Niro!
Soon I will compile a list of all the questions I had on this trip and answer them in a separate article.