Some things were much simpler in the early 2000s. Take cell phones; you could text, spend hours playing snake, even make phone calls but that was about it. The battery however lasted all week and even if you were caught short it wasn’t a problem because literally everyone had the same charger.
These days phones can do everything except fetch a cold beer (why is there not an app for this?) but batteries are juiced in no time and finding a compatible charger isn’t so simple. It seems that to some extent the same issue applies to charging an EV. There are at least six different connectors found in our EV fleet, so we’ve had to school ourselves on what’s available and what we can use.
For slow charging there is the Japanese/US standard Type 1 (J1772) and the European Type 2 (Mennekes) connector. Fast charging options include the Japanese/US standard CHAdeMo plug (an abbreviation of CHArge de MOve and based on a Japanese pun that translates to ‘let’s have a tea while charging’) and Tesla’s Supercharger plug. Teslas can use CHADeMo or Type 2 with an adapter. There are also two combination connectors that support both fast and slow charging; the Type 1 CCS (now being phased out) and the Type 2 CCS, favoured by Europe and it features on our Ioniq.
And just as the connectors vary, so do the charging stations. This is where it can all get a little confusing. But first, some words on AC/DC (RIP, Malcolm).
The Ioniq uses AC for slow charging (Alternating Current – which is what the National Grid delivers), but the battery actually requires DC (Direct Current) in order to charge. The Hyundai’s onboard charger converts the current, but due its small size (space and cost dictate this) the amount of power delivered is minimal, resulting in lengthy charging times.
Plugging into a DC fast charger bypasses the onboard charging device, pumping power directly into the vehicle’s battery and so an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in half an hour.
So where exactly can you charge? The simple answer is anywhere that there is a plug socket. The Ioniq comes with three charging cables to allow owners to use the most common stations and sockets. It is expected that most cars will be charged overnight at home. This can be done using either the slow charger (Level 1) that Hyundai supplies, which can take anywhere up to 19 hours, or with the optional ‘fast’ charger. The Level 2 fast charger retails for $1500 and will reduce the charge time to between four and five hours. This wall-mounted unit needs to be fitted by an electrician. Having a 15 amp plug socket installed at home can also help reduce top-up time.
Public charging stations are another option and these are popping up across the country at a surprising rate. The best way to find these is through the PlugShare app for smartphones. The app identifies the charger and plug type and whether or not there is a cost for charging. There are hundreds of Level 2 AC stations around; our local mall has six, but like the optional home charger most of these will take about four hours to brim the Ioniq.
The best way to find these is through the PlugShare app for smartphones. The app identifies the charger and plug type and whether or not there is a cost for charging. There are hundreds of Level 2 AC stations around; our local mall has six, but like the optional home charger most of these will take about four hours to brim the Ioniq. And who in their right mind wants to spend four hours in a mall? The Blue Commando plugs found at many camp sites can also be used but will require an additional cable.
It is the fast charging (Level 3) network that will really make EVs a viable alternative to an ICE vehicle. These are the DC chargers that can bump up the Ioniq’s range to 80 per cent in little more than the time it takes to get and drink a coffee. There are already more DC chargers here than in Australia and a number of them are free to use. Helping to build our fast charge infrastructure is local company ChargeNet. Its goal is to construct an ‘electric highway’, a network of fast chargers spread across the country. There are already 57 in action with a total of 105 planned by the end of 2018. As the name suggests, ChargeNet charges for the use of their stations. We’ve yet to use one so while we can’t report on their operation the ChargeNet website suggests the average spend is $10. We hope to plug in soon.
Running costs are one area where EVs have ICE power licked. The Ioniq’s first service is due at 12 months, or 15,000km, and costs around $180. This includes an inspection, diagnostic check and a new pollen filter. Every second service or 30,000km requires the brake fluid to be flushed and replaced (this is the standard service interval on all Hyundai models), while the coolant for the high voltage systems won’t need to be replenished until the car has clocked up 210,000km.
There are no flux capacitors or major services to worry about. EV owners also enjoy cheaper registration thanks to a recent reduction to the ACC levy and, for the time being, no road user charges. Light EVs will be exempt from RUCs (a yearly saving of $600 according to the MoT) for at least another four years under the past Government’s goal of having 64,000 EVs on our roads by the end of 2021. Whether these incentives will be retained or broadened under the new government remains to be seen.
Facts and Figures
Kilometres at start: 9650
Distance travelled: 1236
Number of free charges: 7
Number of paid charges: 7
Charging cost this month: $35.05
Things to do: Use a Chargenet station
We like: The Phoenix Orange paint scheme
We don’t like: The charging cable not releasing from the car socket. It’s happened three times now.