03 Mar: MG ZS EV

… MG ZS EV …

I have nothing against electric/battery powered cars. Oddly enough, I actually like them. They are quiet, comfortable and so far proving to be as reliable as their ‘alternatively’ powered cousins, but I would advise against anyone buying such a car unless they have a home charger installed.

As things currently stand anyone buying a car and relying on the public infrastructure will need a GP prescription for anxiety pills.

It would appear that the demand for new electric cars is fast outstripping the current capacity of the public charging network. For sure the providers will tell you how many chargers they are installing every week and the network is indeed expanding, but they are not matching retail vehicle sales number increases. Recent personal experiences highlight the practical everyday issues.

Driving and enjoying the new MG ZS EV recently, I had 47% showing on the battery level indicator so thought I would top it up, just for the experience. I spent 90 minutes one morning looking for a high speed charger that was operational and free of any other users. I failed.

At two sites they were already occupied by vehicles and at another location one of two was out of order whilst a large parcel delivery van was using the other. I tried the standard AC charger and the car’s info screen indicated it would take over ten hours to attain a full charge.

Fortunately I wasn’t that desperate and was able to resort to my now customary ploy of visiting the high speed charger at my usual preferred location late at night. Invariably, the public chargers are not quite so busy in the wee sma’ hours, but I still had to hang around for an hour while the high speed charger topped up the battery’s 50 odd per cent.

For those intending to travel a distance, it’s all very well planning a route beforehand but it will only work if you can get access to the pre-plotted chargers as and when needed. Suppose you get to your first choice of charging points and they are all in use. Then you try your second choice having spent more time and more battery power finding it, and suppose that one is busy too or out of service. So you need a third option and by the time you get there the Zapmap (phone app) indicator which originally said it was free has now been taken.

Mean while the car’s battery indicator is showing – low, while the personal range anxiety meter is showing – high!

Unlike a petrol diesel filling station you can’t just join the queue because there is no way of estimating how long the car parked on the electric charging point has been there or is likely to stay there. Not all charging stations have a visible indicator on the charger display panel to say how long the car has been there or how long it will take till it is fully charged. However, most new electric cars now have an indicator light near their charge plug which shows the rate of charge, so that is a big help. Just be careful the owner doesn’t see you acting suspiciously and peering awfy close at his car when he returns, especially if he’s bigger than you.

Then again even if the indicator light is showing that it’s nearing full charge there is no way of knowing when the vehicle owner will return. Have they just gone for a coffee or a comfort break? Are they at work for the day, or worse, are they at work and then going on to the cinema or theatre and simply leaving that charging unit out of commission for others for more than a full working day?

To make electric cars a sensible everyday choice there needs to be a big increase in the numbers of high speed chargers and installations all around the country. It would also help if the charger had a display which showed the state of charge and progress.

The constant urging by governments all around the world to convert us to electricity has not made it easy for the automotive manufacturers or the vehicle using and buying public. In fact the rapidity of this move may have affected the manufacturers’ plans to spend more time, effort and development money on alternative methods of propelling public transportation like cleaner bio fuels and hydrogen. Of course we need to clean up our act, but who was it who decided that electricity was the only way?

Having said all that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the MG ZS EV itself which I was driving apart from the charging frustrations. This latest version of the new entry level model has a bigger battery which means a range increase from 163 miles to almost 200 miles although there is still the extended range option with a yet bigger battery which will carry you around 273 miles of ideal motoring, but at a cost of some £2000 more.

However, 200 miles should be sufficient for many folk and suit their lifestyle if they are not adventurous motorists. This is an ideal car for the commuter or spouse on child ferrying duties or the currently fashionable home based worker. But don’t get the idea that’s all it’s good for because it is comfortable and roomy enough for longer trips, as long as you plot out the charging stations along your chosen route. The further away from conurbations, the harder they are to find.

The new electric motor produces some 154 bhp which will deliver a 0 to 60 mph time of around 8 seconds so it’s no slouch, but if you’re greedy with the performance requirements then range will suffer! And if you do find a 100kW charging station it can be charged from 10 to 80% capacity in 36 minutes.

Perhaps the biggest attraction will be the price which starts from just over £27,000 making it one of the cheapest sensible electric cars on the market. If all your trips are short and local or if your commuting distances are modest, then the MG ZS EV is ideal – and it comes with a 7 year warranty.

Just one niggle. If you are over 5 feet 10 inches tall just make sure to duck when approaching the open tailgate! I’ve still got the bruise from the protruding locking latch!

Review Date: 03 March 2022
Price: from £27,495
Engine: 51 kWh Electric motor with 154 bhp
Performance: 0-62 mph in 8.0 secs, flat out at 115 mph
Range: 198 miles (claimed)
CO2 emissions: 0 k/gm

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