Our day in Fiskars…and Tammisaari
A couple of weekends ago me, my wife and our two kids decided to try out the EkoRent service for a day trip to Fiskars. We were quite excited about this new option of transport as we have never felt justified in owning a car outright due to simply not needing one most of the time but we missed having a car for the occasional trip out of town and traditional car rental rates had been extortionate.
So off we set on our first electric car journey with zero experience beforehand of how it would go. At the beginning we were questioning if we could make it to Fiskars and back on a single charge but it became quite obvious once the speed limits went to 100 km/h heading out of town that we would need to recharge. The charge indicator went down quite rapidly once we started hitting the required speed limit even with the car running on the eco option. Not far from Fiskars we decided to investigate where the nearest charging points were so once we had enjoyed our time in Fiskars, we could then recharge before going home. After checking the navigator for charging points, we decided that Tammisaari (though in the opposite direction of going back to Helsinki) was the closer option.
We had a lovely time in Fiskars but then it was time to head back home. Off we went to recharge in Tammisaari and that’s when the first bout of stress came with the indicator flashing “nearly empty” as we found the charging station. After some fiddling around trying to work out how to initiate the charging process, we ended up calling Virta (an electricity company that handled this particular station) to ask if we were doing something wrong. After much discussion and multiple phone calls back and forth, they informed us that they would need to send a repairman but that they wouldn’t be able to get there until the next day!
Now we were having to contemplate what the hell to do if we were stuck in Tammisaari with two kids in the back who were patiently sitting there whilst my wife and I were fuming. My wife called EkoRent who suggested to go ask the nearby ABC petrol station if they had any charging options. No they didn’t, but we were informed that the Lidl up the road (which we passed on the way down) had one but it was a normal charging point (in other words, slow unlike the quick charge of our first one). It didn’t matter, we just wanted to get home and put the kids to bed before midnight. Up we went to Lidl and it became apparent very quickly that we were going to be waiting a long time to even have enough charge to get halfway back to Helsinki.
We did some grocery shopping and had a walk and it was during this time that the repair man for Virta pulled up in his car beside Lidl and informed us that the other charging station had been rebooted and was working again. “Great, let’s stop charging at this one, go back to the other and get out of here!”. The only problem was that when we tried to unplug from the port, the plug was stuck! So began another 15 minutes or so of calling to Virta with them trying to reboot the port from their end to no avail. By this time, I didn’t care about the ozone layer and was ready to use a gas guzzling Hummer if that’s what it took to get back home and I frustratedly told the Virta operator that I had had enough and was leaving the charging lead plugged in so we could go back down to the first station. They agreed to that and said they would collect the charging lead and return it to EkoRent as it belonged to the car. My wife didn’t feel good about leaving the (plugged in) lead out in the open so she stayed back whilst I went back with the kids to hopefully start quick charging.
This time it worked and we just had to wait whilst the car had its food (about 30 minutes for 80% charge). My wife in the meantime had managed to unplug the lead from the other one and walked back down to wait out rest of the time. We had an intense discussion about whether to fully charge or was 80% enough. We negotiated to 85%.
Two hours later we were back on the road and the journey back was smooth enough though the stress returned just outside of Helsinki if we would need to put a bit more charge in. I was determined to make it back to Arabia with what we had and we did…..just!
After a couple of beers back at home my hard-line stance on never setting foot in an electric car again had subsided and we were already talking about the next trip, though our daughter will take some extra convincing still.
Virta, to their credit, contacted us the following day and expressed their concern for what happened and compensated us for the time spent.
We decided upon EkoRent not only for the ease of renting (and at a very reasonable price) but also for supporting the electric car movement, the age of fossil fuels being utilised in industry cannot end soon enough. There just needs to be a big improvement in the infrastructure such as more availability of redundant solutions (when one charging station isn’t functioning) and so forth. I am confident that will happen sooner rather than later.