Mumbai - Kalaburagi - Mumbai
Went on a 1200km road trip two days after getting the car!
It has been a crazy ride. I just got the car delivered a couple of days ago, and coincidentally I had some work in Kalaburagi, Karnataka. Kalaburagi, also known as Gulbarga, is roughly 550-600 kms away from Mumbai and it is a perfect amount of distance one can travel in a day, in an electric vehicle. Or can they go more?
Here is the link to the google sheet data if you want to skip the text.
The 7kW slow charger hasn’t been installed in my society due to some complications that maybe covered in a separate post.
The car that I am taking on this trip is 2022 MG ZS EV.
I have been on exactly one ICE (dinasour juice* consuming Internal Combustion Engine vehicles) roadtrip prior to this.
I have, ofcourse, never driven an EV for this long, prior to this.
Yeah, unlike ICE vehicles, you can’t just pick up and leave (yet) - especially for trips that are longer than 2x the car’s range.
Since my car was new and I had no practical data on how much my car could go on a single charge, I looked at some YouTube videos and assumed that the minimum range I could expect would be around 300kms at full charge. I could go on to 400kms or more if I decided to be slightly stingy. More on this later.
The route for the trip was going to be Mumbai - Pune - Solapur - Kalaburagi. According to my prior research, there were plenty of chargers between / in Mumbai and Pune, but there were no fast chargers in both Solapur and Kalaburagi.
Here is a screenshot of the chargers available enroute via Plugshare.
The orange ones are fast chargers (chargers charging 25kW and above). The green charger is a slow charger (usually charges at 3.3kW or 7kW).
(No, the orange charger in Solapur is not yet setup. It says “Coming Soon”)
Apps we would be needing for this trip - Plugshare, Tata Power EZ, Fortum Charging (available on both Android and iOS app stores)
Mumbai - Pune
I started my journey from Mumbai at roughly 73% State of Charge (SoC). That would mean 73*300 ~ min 210 kms of range. Now electric vehicles don’t like to go down to very low SoCs, and they lose some charge while going uphill / gaining elevation. They generate charge when they go downhill, yes, they add charge back to the battery using momentum and making the use of regenerative braking.
Here’s the elevation data for the trip starting from Mumbai to Kalaburagi (sourced via Plugshare)
The drive from Bombay to Pune early in the morning is always a pretty one. Being able to catch the sunrise near the Lonavala ghats has always been one of the best sites. Climbing the ghats was a relief and there was no annoying clutch - break - accelerator - gear dance with the hand and the legs. Only one leg on the accelerator was engaged. Rest was taken care of by regenerative braking.
The number of speed cams on the Mumbai Pune Expressway have drastically increased, or maybe they have been there since before, but I never knew. This time, the MG’s MapMyIndia inbuilt maps could alert me whenever there was an upcoming speed camera in a 1km range, giving me enough time to have ‘barely legal’* speeds.
This route has a net elevation gain of roughly 570m with a peak at 650m. At the start of the trip, with the SoC at 73%, it showed that I have a range of 245 kms. When I reached the MG Showroom at Wakad, the SoC was 27% with a covered distance of 145kms.
Charging at MG Wakad
I reached the MG showroom and the charger had a separate entrance from the MG and the VW showrooms, which is a good +ve. The charger had 2 CCS guns. Luckily, at 0645, there wasn’t anyone to share or to stand in line for the charger.
I was using a fast charger for the first time and it was pretty straightforward. As soon as I connected the gun to the car, the Delta Fortum charger started asking for an OTP / RFID validation or validation via the app. I had downloaded the app, but had forgotten to register. Registered with email address and phone number. The process and the app were very smooth to use. Identified my location and it initiated charging automatically. It was joy to see the car getting charged!
50kW chargers are fast. I can only barely imagine what Bjorn means when he likes to ride the Ionity wave. In the 38 mins, all I could do was take a walk till the MG showroom gate, chat with the guards a bit, find out where the dustbin was (sadly there wasn’t, but my little waste was biodegradable, so I threw it in the bushes). Didn’t have to use the restroom, but I assume it would be in the showroom. The showrooms were shut due to it being a state holiday.
The charging was free, and is free for MG vehicles. Someone said that it is free till 30th June 2022, however, I do not have concrete info on this. I decided to leave after 38 mins, because the charging speed dropped from 47kW to less than 40kW as soon as the SoC reached 80%. Knowing that :
there are enough chargers till Indapur should I need to topup
I had enough charge to go well beyond Indapur
I wanted to beat the Pune traffic and get out of the city as soon as possible. 0730h is still too early for most Punekars on a holiday.
I had to do a long charge at Indapur irrespective of how much ever I charged here.
It made sense to end the charging session and get going.
Pune - Indapur
This leg was also very uneventful. I had started enjoying the power of the EV and would love to zip past through the slow pokes.
Indapur is the last fast charger on the Mumbai - Pune - Solapur Highway. There are many others that are planning to come, but they aren’t there yet. It is a kind of a fast charger desert beyond this point in all directions except towards Pune / Mumbai. Given that it was still the highway, I could maintain good speeds and reached the charger in roughly 3h, which is roughly 162 km away.
Charging at Tata Power - Hotel Swamiraj Executive, Indapur
Plugshare shows three charges by similar names very close to each other. 2 of those on Plugshare are after the Sadewadi toll naka and one is prior. I only managed to check out the chargers that were installed after the toll naka.
The configuration available here is : 1x 25kW CCS gun, 2x AC slow chargers.
There was an ICE vehicle already parked close to the charger. So I had to park in a way that if someone had to use a slow charger, it would’ve been slightly awkward parking for them. Thankfully no one came while I was plugged in.
This was the first time that I was using Tata’s network. I had downloaded the app, registered myself and had even added INR 1,000 in the wallet. Tata deducts the GST right away and you are left with roughly INR 860 to use, which looks slightly sceptical, but it is no big deal.
Like last time, I connected the charging gun to the car and started figuring out what to do on the app. The Tata EZ charging app on iPhone is very slow to use. It keeps waiting and checking for everytime you tap on the screen. By the time I got to the charger location, it showed that the charger was unavailable. Slightly confused, I looked up to see that the charger’s horrible lcd display was blank. I just hoped that the charger didn’t go kaput because of the delay in selecting the charger on the app or for any other reason.
Seeing me confused, someone came by to see the charger. They told me that the power is off. I felt relieved, and I started worrying again. Given the coal shortage and power cuts across the country + the fact that there are little to no power cuts in Bombay, it felt like accepting harsh realities. I anxiously asked the man as to when the power would come back. He gave a hopeful answer of 10-30 mins usually.
I was mentally prepared to wait there for atleast an hour or so and then figure out if heading back to Pune or driving slowly to Solapur and slow charging could be an option that I could explore. Within 10-15m, the power was back, and I quickly initiated charging. Thankfully, I didn’t have to take the tough decisions.
It was a slightly different experience to use the Tata charging app, because it asked for either the time duration or the power that needed to be inputted. It was different from Fortum or any other chargers that are usually shown in Bjorn’s videos. I did quick math and decided that a top up of 20kWh should do me good. The estimated time for that was roughly 51m. Once the charging session was completed, I inputted my destination on the MG’s map and realized that I will be reaching the destination with 3% SoC. I didn’t know whether this was based on range or GoM or what was the algorithm behind it.
Anyway, I decided that I should spend some more time, and get enough buffer to reach my destination. I charged for 21 more minutes and added an extra 8.2kWh. I had crossed the 90% SoC and was confident that I would be able to reach the destination with atleast a 10% buffer.
Indapur - Kalaburagi
For a distance of 240kms, the driving time was estimated to be around 5-6h. The first 100 kms were still pretty easy and the road till Solapur was pretty good. The National Highways were over after Solapur and I knew I would have to rough it out with the State Highways. I took a stretching break after reaching Solapur and it was blistering hot outside.
The road through Akkallot - Dudhani - Afzalpur - Gangapura has patches of broken tarmac and some of them also pass through villages. The time taken to travel these patches won’t match up with the amazing speed one could maintain at the national highways.
Charging at Chirayu Hospital, Kalaburagi
I managed to reach Gulbarga with 12% SoC in roughly 4-4.5h. Before leaving for the trip, I had messaged Dr Manju asking the permission to use the charger. He was very kind to allow me to use it. His phone number is available on the Plugshare app. His staff was very helpful in assisting with the same.
I decided to let the car cool down a bit given the extreme temperatures outside, before I decided to start slow charging. I waited for almost an hour, doing errands nearby on foot, before finally plugging it in, in the evening.
The car hit 100% somewhere between 1 and 2 am. I picked up the car in the morning at around 8am and continued my errands. The entire experience at the hospital was very smooth.
Total costs spent on charging this route : INR 1122 which translates to INR 2/km
Kalaburagi - Sastrapur
This time around, I took a different route via Sastrapur, Karnataka instead of the state highways that was recommended by Google yesterday. I finished my errands by noon and left with roughly 94% SoC. I decided to hammer* (drive as quickly as possible, usually to save time) all the way till Sastrapur. The drive was via SH10 and NH65, which was better than NH150E.
The drive entailed me going north from Kalaburagi towards Latur and then merge on the Solapur - Hyderabad highway. Right would go to Hyderabad and on left was Solapur and eventually Mumbai.
Charging experience at Sastrapur
One reason I decided to hammer was because I could charge at the 30kW instead of the regular 25kW Tata chargers at Sastrapur. The charger here is of Tellus make and looks well placed. However, there are two SVS Tyres, and somehow I ended up on the other one. But they are less than a couple of mins from each other. I reached the charger at around 2pm. It was extremely hot out there. It was too hot for my phone to charge and for the Tata EZ Charge app to work correctly.
I tried to check if there were any web based dashboards for the Tata EZ Charge that allow me to initiate charing. I do really hope that we can have a pan charger network RFID card, or wait, we have something similar, the Fastag. But alas, we aren’t there yet.
I charged the car till 96% across a couple of charging sessions. The reason I went till 96% was to see how much I could stretch the car’s abilities and go deep as possible and really see if changing any of the strategies made me reach quicker or slower or in a more or a less efficient manner.
Sastrapur - Pune
I put in Hotel Swamiraj Executive, Indapur as a charging stop to see how much battery I will be consuming. Just for gags, I also looked at the consumption numbers if I wanted to reach Wakad directly. Gotta love the free and the fast juice at MG’s Fortum Chargers. The GoM estimated that I will reach there with 4% SoC. I thought it was worth the try. The distance was around 383 kms from Sastrapur, and was all on national highways.
I decided to switch off the AC and hunkered down. I was personally ok with the warm weather, but my phone sadly wasn’t. I also decided to see if this could be done by using the cruise control. Yesterday, I had not used cruise control at all, so I decided to give it a try. I set the cruise at around 70kmph and observed for a little while. My eyes lit with joy when I saw roughly 24kW regen when coming down the slope. I then had hope that I would be able to complete this leg with cruise control + regen @ 2.
Passed through Solapur, Indapur and the massive Ujani Dam and its backwaters. I picked up a hitchhiker at Indapur who was headed towards Pune. He was great company and was really curious about electric cars. He said that it felt like sitting on a carpet with wheels.
I had to constantly keep my eye on the GoM and the distance to the charger. It was always around 20km, which meant that I was consistently hitting the efficiency numbers. I kept getting more confident as I covered more ground. I had mentally mapped a bunch of chargers on this route, had I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it back.
Using the cruise on MG was an absolute pleasure. The car would maintain the speed and did it’s job. It is known that electric vehicles like constant output, so maintaining perfect speed is the best thing one can do to increase efficiency. I’ll be using a lot more of the cruise control going forward.
Charging at MG Wakad
The charging experience, like the last time, was a breeze. There was no one by the time I reached there, which was around 10pm. Went to the washroom (which is a walk away), drank water, ate a bit and my car was already at 70% SoC.
After a quick stop of around 40 mins, I decided to head home towards Mumbai.
Pune - Mumbai
I had been working from 0830h till 1200h, and driving from noon till 2200h before I took a decent break. I had decided that I’ll get home the same night itself.
Going down the ghats was an absolute pleasure. I consumed only 25% charge while coming down and covered around 150kms.
Total costs spent on charging this route : INR 316 which translates to INR 0.5 / km
I’d rate my first EV journey to be a great success.
Cruise Control really frees you up and you don’t feel tired.
Elevation gain / decline of 500m can eat / recharge an extra 10% to the battery pack (back of the envelope calculations) for the MG ZS EV.
The Tata app really needs to be fast and zappier, like the Fortum / Plugshare app.
The total costs were very low, granted because of free charging at Fortum. But assuming INR 1000 charge for both sessions at Fortum, the running cost is still INR 2438 which translates to INR 2.1 / km.
Total consumption at the end of the trip was around 7km/kWh or ~144 wh/km.
* - Thanks to Bjorn Nyland for the phrase
The maps were created by Siddharth Agarwal - you can buy him a coffee here.
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Very informative and still an easy read. Looking forward to more pieces.