New Delhi to Mumbai, Dec 2022
In my last post, I wrote about my road trip from Mumbai to New Delhi. This post will cover some of my time in Delhi and my return trip from to Mumbai with an overnight halt in Udaipur.
Strap in, and let’s go.
If you’d like to skip the text and get to the data, here’s the link to my google sheet containing all the trip data so far and here’s the link (1) to multiple (2) YouTube playlists!
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I got the delivery of Tata Tiago XZ+ in Mumbai. I’ve been putting out initial impressions about the cheapest available electric car on my Twitter!
I reached Delhi with around 38% SoC. My return trip wouldn’t be for atleast another week. With no home slow charging options, finding a charging solution for my car was my priority.
I soon discovered not 1 but 3 charging units of ElectreeFi’s EESL fast chargers just a few blocks away! Talk about getting lucky! These fast chargers also had an option to slow charge my car via AC. Most of the chargers there were used by Evera cabs and I wrote about them here. The charger had a booking system. When I decided to charge my car there, it told me that I can charge my car only for 30 mins because there was a booking scheduled for later. Annoying, but alas, that’s how the system was. After 30-35 mins or so, I came back to pick up the car, and there was no one waiting for me to unplug. The charger too had stopped charging the car. I even waited for 5-10 mins, but still no one showed up. I will say it again: people should be penalized in some way for booking a slot and not showing up.
I couldn’t slow charge my car on AC because of a badly designed UX: unfortuntely, the charger would not allow me to book a slot for more than 3h in one go. MG needs 6-7h to go from 0 to 100% at 7.2kWh/h. Additionally, ElectreeFi’s AC charger was rated for 22kW. It asked me to pay on the rated supply basis and not on the consumption when I was booking the session. Thus, it was asking me to pay for 44 units for a session of 2h during which my car would consume around 14-15 units. Totally unfair and a very fixable problem.
I had to drive around quite a bit in Delhi, so I always relied on fast charging at this particular EESL charger. I also managed to do an overnight trip to - Rohtak, a nearby town in Haryana. Sadly Rohtak too didn’t have any charging options. I was able to use my extension cable and setup slow charging overnight at my friend’s house. Living in houses >> living in apartments.
After fast charging many times, it is always good practice to let the car charge slowly completely till 100% and some more. During fast charging, the charger pumps in high current, which increases the battery temperature. It is advisable for the battery temperature to be cooler when it holds charge. A battery is made up of many cells. Each cell is supposed to be at a certain voltage. When the battery is fast charged, some cells may be charged slightly more than other cells. When the battery is slow charged and some cells are at full capacity, it allows for other weaker cells to accept charge, thus balancing the cells. This is referred to as cell balancing. Getting your car’s cell balanced after every few fast charges is recommended in most cars. The difference between the highest cell voltage and the lowest cell voltage should be as low as possible. If you have an OBD adaptor, you can identify these numbers very easily. Thus, try to slow charge as much as possible. It allows the battery to be close to ambient temperatures while being charged. Unfortunately for me, I kept struggling to find convenient slow charging options in this leg of the trip.
After coming back from Rohtak, I tried to find a slow charging option before I could commence my journey back to Mumbai, since it is very difficult to slow charge the car when on highway trips. I looked for some of the public slow charging options in Delhi and it was a nightmare. For context, I started looking for options in the CR Park area in New Delhi. Some slow chargers in this area were not correctly marked on the app, or were private in gated buildings. EESL has the most number of chargers in the city, AC and DC both, as per PlugShare. I visited atleast 3 chargers in the middle of the night to allow my car to be slow charged, but sadly all the chargers marked as 7.4 kW AC were all DC001 chargers (not compatible with most 4W EV) instead of Type 2. It is the responsibility of the CPO to ensure that the chargers are correctly marked on community platforms like PlugShare. The onus is also on the community to check in and identify the incorrectly labelled chargers. Because of this issue, I had to spend an hour and a half searching for the correct charger.
I ended up fast charging again, this time at CP (Connaught Place / Rajeev Chowk), using Aargo’s 24kW* (corrected from 30kW) charger. Raunaq, my cousin who travelled with me till Delhi, was on his way back from Mussorrie and his bus was scheduled to reach ISBT, Kashmiri Gate by 6am. After the charging was done, I headed to ISBT to pick him up and we started to make our way back to Mumbai.
Delhi - Udaipur :
The plan was to reach Udaipur on the first day, spend an additional day with friends in Udaipur and leave for Mumbai the day after. From Delhi, we left at almost full charge. Leaving this early from Delhi in winters was a mistake because the fog was too dense. However, with cautious and slow driving, we reached Shahpur after 4h or so. We decided to take a break to catch up on work. While we were working, we put our car to charge. The StartEVCharge’s iOS app was still not fixed and we had to download the app on Raunaq’s Android phone to start charging.
Mr. Vinod, the guy who helped us last time around, was at another charger site across the road which was newly inaugurated. He came to meet us as soon as he got to know that we’ve come back to charge.
We ended up waiting there for 30 minutes and by the time we left, we had 75% SoC, which meant that we could go for another 300 kms. We didn’t have enough range to reach Udaipur, because that was still 400+ kms away. The best option, with one of the fastest charging guns, was in Rani Bagh resort at Beawar provided by Statiq. I had visited this place on my return trip from Delhi in June 2022. I knew that the food was good and the service acceptable. Thus, Beawar it was.
We reached Beawar at around 3pm, which was roughly 5h of driving from Shahpur. We pulled in at 10%. Ranibagh charger was rated at 50kW with 2 guns. It could give 50kW to one gun too if needed. Last time around, I had fully charged my car here in one hour. The Statiq app showed that one of the guns was faulty. Luckily for us, we pulled in just before a Tata Tigor EV, thus getting first dibs on the only functional charging gun.
We initiated charging and proceeded to have lunch. The Tigor couple from Thane also joined us for lunch. They were travelling from Jaipur to Mumbai via Vadodara. While both of us were placing our lunch order, a NexonEV came in looking to charge. Seeing the queue, they decided not to wait and proceeded to another charger. Queues forming up at high power chargers is a good thing. It is a signal for CPOs to start putting in more chargers at high usage locations. A booking system on this charger would’ve helped all three of us to plan our journeys better. But then I probably wouldn’t have met Mr. Mihir (owner of the Tigor EV), who was good company to hang out with.
We had to charge our car just enough to reach Udaipur with some battery to spare. So we charged for around an hour and left at 71% SoC. Thus, we charged from 10% to 71%, which meant that we added around 30kWh of energy in the battery. The Statiq app however claimed that we added around 52kWh of energy in the one hour stop. This can possibly mean two things : a) The Statiq charger doesn’t actually measure the energy that is being dispensed into the battery and goes by the preset configuration, i.e. it knows that MG can take 50kW in one hour if only one gun is connected, so let’s charge the customer accordingly. Or b) the unit that actually measures the charge dispensed was broken so the charger defaulted to the above metric.
P.S. : They’ve refunded the excess money deducted within 14 days of raising the complaint.
In any case, they need to get their act together: the Statiq charger at Beawar is a crucial charger on the Udaipur Ajmer route and this malfunction, whether deliberate or not, would harm both company and customer.
Additionally, because the charger only dispensed at around 25kWh/h speeds, I assume that the second gun’s charge dispensing unit was broken and not any other periphery. This problem wouldn’t be solved unless the charger is opened up and fixed from inside. If the charge dispensing unit was working, then my car would’ve gotten around 50kWh/h instead of 25kWh/h.
Mihir ended up doing another top up at Rajasamand’s Tata PEZC charger, around 50 km from Udaipur before reaching the city. The charger there too wasn’t working, so he had to put his car on slow charge and then reach Udaipur.
Meanwhile, we reached Udaipur with around 13% to spare. The next day, our plan was to visit Sajjangarh fort along and have a nice lunch in a restaurant overlooking the Pichola lake. Sajjangarh fort is around 10-15 kms from Udaipur city and there's a steep incline. So we decided to slow charge the car in Udaipur. It was difficult to charge the car using my extension cable, because the parking was slightly far from the flat and the flat itself was on the 3rd floor. It didn’t make sense to have a cable dangling from the 3rd floor for this purpose. I looked for AC slow chargers nearby and found one at a relatively short distance. It was at Hotel Radison, provided by SunFuel Electric, which is run by Gul Panag and her team.
Hotel Radison is next to Lake Citi Mall in Udaipur. Lake Citi Mall itself has a cool looking Ather charger along with a 3 pin socket for other vehicles to charge. You are expected to go around the Lake Citi Mall to reach the Sun Fuel charger in Hotel Radison’s parking and front office.
I reached the charger, loaded up the wallet with INR 1,000 to initiate charging. The charger status was shown as faulted on the app. The app is very similar to Statiq, because Statiq is their OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol) service provider. OCPP service provider is the entity that sits between the charger hardware and the charge point operator’s backend to ensure that they have seamless communication. So Charger OEM -> OCPP -> CPO’s backend -> CPO’s front end app -> User. This is the stack.
I restarted the charger and it didn’t show the fault anymore. Great going. I connected the car and tried to initiate charging, but it faulted.
The app had a phone number for support, so I tried calling on that number. No one picked up. So I dropped a WhatsApp message. Soon enough, someone replied saying that they are looking into it. I was relieved. Within 10 mins or so, two people from Sun Fuel got on a call with me and we tried a bunch of debugging strategies. We restarted the charger, checked the connections, and spoke with the hotel maintenance staff. No luck. I spent around close to an hour with the guys on the call to figure this out. We tried restarting and also remotely triggering the charger to start from SunFuel’s backend. The charger could also be initiated with RFID, which was a great sign. The RFID was supposed to be with the hotel front desk. However, both the front desk and the maintenance team were unaware about it. I had a bunch of RFID cards. I asked the Sun Fuel team if they can authenticate one of my RFIDs to initiate charging. However, that was not possible because the team couldn’t connect with the charger itself. Turns out, the WiFi password of the hotel had changed, so the charger didn’t have a way to connect to the internet and initiate charging. Oh dear, IoT (Internet of Things). Someone from SunFuel’s team would have to visit to connect to the charger and reconfigure it to the new WiFi credentials. I was surprised with the fact that the charger didn’t have a M2M (Machine to Machine) 4G sim card built in. Saddened, I decided to not charge the car and deal with it tomorrow morning. The Sun Fuel guys told me that they believe there’s an issue with the earthing and will ask the hotel guys to check it the next morning. I went the next day, however, it was the same story.
P.S. : Sunfuel refunded my money within 14 days of this trip.
I decided to fast charge my car in the city. Went to a couple of Tata chargers to fast charge my car, depending on where I had some work. The fast charging was smooth but both the chargers were ICE’d. It was a task to get the charger connected, Tata really needs to step up its game and create dedicated EV parking spaces at their chargers. If EVs can’t access the chargers easily the infrastructure will just sit there, without reaching its full potential. What a waste! Check out the video in the playlist!
In the end, we didn’t go to Sajjangarh Fort because it was too crowded. But we did manage to catch the sunset at a restaurant overlooking the Pichola lake. Here’s the photo.
Udaipur - Mumbai :
The next day we decided to leave as early as possible. We had to cover a distance of 750 km, which meant that it would take the whole day. We decided to skip a bunch of chargers enroute. We had left with 95% SoC and the road till Vadodara was all downhill. We decided to skip Ahmedabad / Gandhinagar and headed to Vadodara via the Godhra route.
It didn’t make sense to pull into Vadodara city because we didn’t want to encounter the city traffic and the highway chargers on the GQ around Vadodara weren’t above 30kW. We checked PlugShare for reviews and decided that MobiLane at Hotel Darshan just before Bharuch was still the best stop. It provided for free charging and the food was also pretty good.
We reached the charger with 3% SoC left, after covering a distance of almost 400 kms in ~92% battery capacity. Pulling in with such a low state of charge doesn’t bother me anymore because the car’s estimated range is pretty accurate. Also, it helps that I’ve done this before. Instead of panicking about low battery, I try to optimise my charging location based on the following criteria with priority : Reliability of the charger, Optimal Charging speed (No point going to 150kW charger because I can’t charge that fast), Eating options (if I’d be hungry),
We pulled in there just in time for an early dinner. This meant that we would reach Mumbai not before 1 AM, which was a great time to enter the city because there was little to no traffic. From the charger to Mumbai is also around 350 kms, which we managed to cover in around 82% battery.
Summary and learnings :
Keep a close watch at the units your car has consumed v/s what you are being charged by the CPO. There can be some losses ~5% but anything more is suspicious. Looking at you Statiq!
There’s great scope for CPOs to put slow charging options across the city so that users can slow charge their car overnight. Plus, Delhi and Mumbai don’t have good car parking infra. Slow chargers solve both problems for EV owners, especially travelling EV owners.
CPOs need to redesign their apps from a consumer’s PoV. ElectreeFi, please note!
Please paint the floor next to the charger, denoting that it is reserved for EVs only. Else we will have other’s ICE’ing the parking spots.
Smaller towns unsurprisingly lack EV infra. CPOs need to go deep in a state, instead of spreading themselves thin across the country / region.
CPOs should take up the mandate of ensuring their chargers are all correctly labelled on PlugShare.
Good job by the CPOs to refund the money that is lying idle in the wallet.
Article written by : Priyans Murarka
Data collected by : Priyans Murarka
Edited by : Ankita Barthwal
Map Visualization by : Siddharth Agarwal
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