Many believe that modern EVs still don’t have the range to be able to drive long distances or that the charging point network (in the UK at least) isn’t established enough to accommodate for a road trip in an EV. This will soon be an idea of the past. Long distance drives are one of the challenges that EVs are overcoming with evolving battery technology and continued improvement to the charging point network throughout the UK and Ireland. The network is already at a standard good enough, with enough chargers sufficiently spread out, for a road trip in an EV to easily work.
This was tested earlier this year by motoring journalist Jess Shanahan. She was the first person to drive Route 57 - a 2,500-mile road trip across the UK & Ireland designed by hotel chain Jurys Inn - completely in a KIA Soul EV that she lovingly named LoKi. Beginning in Plymouth (south west of England) Route 57 heads along the south coast to London, then back across to Wales, up to and around Scotland and into Ireland from Glasgow by ferry. It then continues around the Irish south coast, ending in Galway in the west.
Jess used ap Map to plot out her charging points prior to the journey, checking what type of chargers were available and how long she would need to charge in each place in order to reach the next destination. As a new EV driver still getting to grips with the car, she found that the KIA Soul EV averaged around 95 miles per charge, depending on terrain and travelling speeds. This was more than enough to cover the distance between charging points.
Although the KIA Soul EV is a heavy car, the weight is located underneath giving it a low centre of gravity with Jess stating that it handled amazingly, and very quietly, through both city streets and winding country roads. She even came to prefer having to stop to charge the car as it meant that she had more time to “properly appreciate” her surroundings better.
There were some unforeseen downsides in regards to the UK charging point network. On a couple of occasions, chargers Jess had planned to use were not working and there was even one that had been stolen from its location! However, these turned out not to be much of an issue as there was often another close by. She was also sure to update the charger status on Zap Map for any future drivers. In Ireland, she used the ESB charging point network for free and without issue only having to register beforehand to get the ESB card to access the chargers.
Jess completed the entire trip in 20 days, covering more than 2,500 miles across 4 countries in the KIA Soul EV. She not only proved that a commonly available EV such as the KIA Soul is able to handle long distances but also show that road trips can be done in an environmentally friendly way. As the charging point network is increasingly added to and updated with quicker chargers, less planning for long distance EV driving will be required, hopefully leading to an increase in long distance EV trips.
If you’re interested to watch and read more about Jess’ journey, check out either the short documentary video below or the written journal on the website