Road tripping in an EV from Pune to Mumbai!
“Let’s turn the AC off, it’ll increase the range”, says my worried co-passenger, before we’d even left the city limits. Range anxiety is real. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We were heading to Mumbai for a shoot and thought it’d be fun to take the Hyundai Kona. Our journey was 148 kilometres, and the Kona was indicating a range of 298 kilometres on a breezy morning, what could go wrong?
Not much actually. We did end up turning the AC off on the highway, set the cruise control at 80kmph and relaxed in the silence of electric motoring. The range wasn’t falling at an alarming rate, in fact if you use the paddles behind the wheel smartly (which are for controlling brake energy regeneration), you can eke out quite a bit of extra juice from the Kona. In Eco mode it actually shows you how many kilometres of range you’ve added by using the regen. Back to the journey though, we cruised with the windows down in the morning mist till Mumbai, trying to use the brake pedal as less as possible and tickling the throttle. But, we surrendered to the city’s bustle and heat and hit the AC switch, and had to use the Kona's 395Nm of torque to zip around the countless rickshaws and (modernised) kaali-peelis. To our surprise, we reached the city with almost 190km of range indicated and decided to head straight to N1 Racing. Why? To be one of the first people in the country to stick an electric car onto a dyno. We did multiple runs on N1’s shiny new Mustang Dynamometers’ Eddy current dyno, and clocked a maximum of 497Nm of torque and 136bhp. Okay, these aren’t 100 per-cent accurate figures since we were a bit pressed for time and the calibrations could not be completed properly. My palms were a bit sweaty when Mihir Prabhu of N1 was getting the Kona whining away on the dyno, not because the instant torque was making it squirm, but because range anxiety was kicking in again. “Will we be able to go for our shoot?”, I thought.
We rolled the Kona off the dyno, hopped back in and headed for our shoot, around an hour away on the other side of the city. After which we had to return the Kona back to Hyundai and after another half an hour of driving, we reached the wrong Hyundai dealership! Fired up Google Maps, found the right one and handed the car over with 120km of range still left in the car. The battery reading on the right side of the dash still indicated just under 50 per-cent capacity remaining! We’d been driving extra cautiously for nothing; we were worried for no reason.
A follower on Instagram also reminded us that Mumbai has quite a few EV charging stations around the city, at MG and Tata dealerships too, and you can even call up Hyundai (if you have the Kona) and ask them to help you out if you do indeed run out of charge and you’re stranded.
There's no denying that no matter what, on your first road trip with an EV, you will get range anxiety. But you needn't worry. Modern day EVs are fantastic, and cars like the Hyundai Kona, MG ZS EV, Tata Nexon EV and of course the Mercedes-Benz EQC can not only handle your work commutes without having to be recharged constantly, they can also manage your typical Pune-Mumbai, Delhi-Agra commutes easily. You can even head out to Ambur from Bangalore if you fancy some lip-smacking biryani. Carry the charger for emergency situations, and remember to call the nearest service centre in the unlikely event that you do end up without any charge in the middle of nowhere. Remember to use the regen effectively, minimise the use of the brake pedal, try not to accelerate unnecessarily if you feel you'll need to slow down ahead. You'll need to adjust your driving style a little bit, but before you know it, you'll be a master at conserving energy while not having to drive in the left lane at 40kmph. Oh and remember to leave the AC on.