12 October 2021
If you’ve been reading my reports, you’ll be well aware that I’ve been really enjoying my first venture into an EV lifestyle with the Mokka-e, and the fact that I can’t charge it at home has been precisely no trouble whatsoever.
However, one thing was missing from my test roster – a long journey. I hadn’t quite worked up the bottle to actually go a long way in it, or open myself up to the mercies of the UK’s charging network.
Then someone got wind of a couple of petrol stations that had been closed due to a delayed delivery, and the subsequent media firestorm provoked the bogroll bandits of 2020 back into action. The slack-jawed oafs bought up every drop of diesel and unleaded whether they needed it or not, causing untold problems for people who did actually need fuel for work or if they had a long journey to undertake.
Unfortunately (or not as it transpired), I had not one but two long journeys to do – one to Nottingham and one to York. Ugh. No way was my own thirsty petrol car going to make it there and back on a tank once, let alone twice.
Okay, time to check the trains. HOW much? Blimey. And that would entail a trip across London on the Underground, which was not high on the list of Things I Want to Do in a Pandemic.
All of which left the Mokka-e as the obvious option. I consulted my Zap-Maps app and worked out a route with convenient charging stops, and it seemed feasible. Faint heart and all that.
So, off we set, leaving plenty of time. Setting the cruise to a reasonable and relaxing 65mph meant the battery lasted far better than I had expected. Indeed, going from just outside Newbury to Brackley reduced the charge from 84% to 50%, far less than I’d dared hope.
Another stop at Donington Services on the M1 topped us up for the jaunt into Nottingham, and the return trip was just as easy. Perhaps we were lucky, but all the chargers were operational and quick.
The next day, we repeated the trip, this time heading up to York, and it was similarly stress-free. No hassle, and the car charged up quickly while we had a quick cuppa at each stop, and of course, we didn’t have to queue with everyone else.
It could have made me all smug, but in reality, it has merely opened up the world of EV motoring even more, to the extent that using the Mokka-e to visit family in Scotland isn’t even close to being out of the question. In fact, I’m looking forward to taking it.
So, to all the selfish buyers of fuel, I thank you. Without your idiocy I would probably not have discovered just how good the Mokka-e is on long trips.
28 September 2021
I was brung up good, me. No, really. I was taught to respect my elders, do no one harm, and be polite. I also like to adhere to etiquette, where required, so if someone invites me to a black-tie dinner, I won’t turn up in dungarees. Similarly, if someone holds open a door for me, I’ll make sure I thank them. And I like to think that my good upbringing extends to the use of electric-vehicle charging points.
There is undeniably a right way of doing things when using an EV charger. For a start, don’t park there unless you’re charging.
When you’re finished charging, put the connector back in the right place.
And never, ever hog the charging bay once your car is finished charging. Thankfully, the Mokka-e’s associated app really helps in this regard.
For example, myself and my partner went into Reading in the Mokka-e to do some shopping. Now, in a previous report, I suggested that if you can’t charge at home, the way to make living with an EV really work is to be able to charge it while doing something else. Well, the opportunity presented itself, so I plugged in the car and off we went around the shops.
The app allowed me to keep a careful eye on the state of the car’s charge, and when it got beyond 85%, I wandered over and moved it from the bay. The chap in the Tesla who’d just pulled up was suitably pleased.
So, the Mokka-e and its technical back-up allowed me to keep on doing what I’ve been taught to do my whole life. My parents would be proud.
15 September 2021
Blimey. I know we’ve only just reached the middle of September, but aren’t the nights drawing in? It seems only a couple of days since the longest day.
Anyway, this brings me to the Mokka-e – and its first slight technical glitch. I was driving the car along some country roads near my house, and normally the automatic lights and automatic full beam take care of themselves quite efficiently. However, not this time.
I was driving along and became aware that I was squinting, because the lights hadn’t engaged full beam. Odd. On the instrument display, the ‘auto lights’ symbol had changed, to show just normal passive lights.
A few hundred metres farther on, and the auto function was back up and running, at least until a car came the other way, at which points the lights dipped and the auto full beam refused to re-engage. No amount of stopping, starting, rebooting or swearing would get the system to work properly.
Of course, I took the car out the following evening and despite driving along the same road, everything operated perfectly normally, with full beam being switched on just when I wanted. Very strange.
I guess it might have to go down as ‘one of those things’.
I am a huge fan of driving. Indeed, it’s fair to say that the Vauxhall Mokka-e and my own Vauxhall Monaro are at diametrically opposite ends of the automotive spectrum. However, the crucial bit is that I truly enjoy driving them both.
To my mind, one of the absolute joys of running an electric car is the way it drives, and in this respect I reckon the Mokka-e is great.
There’s something other-worldly about how you can press a button to be greeted with the sound of… nothing, then press a pedal and off you go with genuine haste.
Admittedly, there’s nothing that can match the sound of a V8, but the Mokka-e goes about its business quietly and with more of a sense of fun than you might expect. The batteries are located low down in the car, so the handling is neat and tidy.
I also love the brake-regeneration button, which I switch on every journey. The level of regeneration is just right, so that you can enjoy one-pedal driving up to a point.
And best of all, when driving around town, I can feel smug about the fact that I am incurring very little fuel expense, which contrasts quite starkly with the 12mpg my own car manages in urban traffic… Still, it sounds great. Like I said, diametric opposites, and reasons to love both.
17 August 2021
Last month I bemoaned the Mokka-e’s lane-keeping tech, which switches on every time I activate the car and which tries to drag me into a lane even though I’m actually on a narrow country road.
However, I now want to say that the system is simply superb – when used in the place that it’s meant to be used, which is to say, on the motorway or a dual carriageway.
In this scenario, it works really well, because not only does the radar-guided cruise control keep me a safe distance from the car in front, but the lane-keeping system also keeps me in the centre of my lane completely unobtrusively. Other such systems have felt artificial and overly reactive to me, whereas the Vauxhall system feels natural, like a very subtle guiding hand.
I haven’t truly fallen foul of a dodgy public charging network yet, either. The worst situation was when my local BP Pulse charger decided not to operate, but a swift call to the customer services helpline through the app soon reset it and got it going. That said, it would only charge at a slower rate. Other EV drivers who use the same charger have fallen foul of its idiosyncrasies, so it isn’t just me.
3 August 2021
What did you do last weekend? Well, I went to Ikea in Reading, and came out feeling rather good about life.
Now, stop sniggering back there. I wasn’t feeling ebullient because I’d just shelled out a load of cash on some groovy-looking flat-pack furniture (although I have to say I’m delighted with my new office chair).
No, I was chuffed because my local Ikea store has some Electric Highway chargers in the car park, so I was able to plug in the Mokka-e and get it topped up with electrification while I went about the business of buying a whole load of new cabinets. We arrived with around 30% showing, and when we returned an hour later, laden with boxes, the car had not long reached 100%.
It struck me that this is how to make life with an EV work if you can’t charge at home. If you can charge it up at a public charger while doing something else, you end up with little in the way of wasted time.
It would be good if I could charge up while doing my weekly shopping, but my local Sainsbury’s doesn’t have that facility, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the Mokka-e seems capable of carrying more than enough stuff for me to get through each week.
I’m all for safety kit. Airbags, stability control, tyre pressure monitoring and automatic emergency braking are all undeniably good things.
However, I’m less enamoured with safety kit that impinges on the day-to-day driving experience, which brings me to the Lane-positioning assistant in the Mokka-e. I can fully understand that a system designed to keep the car in its lane if the driver’s attention wanders is helpful, but the problem is that I live a long way from a motorway, along twisty country roads with few markings and lots of gravel.
The Mokka-e’s lane system switches on at the start of every journey, and when I’m driving along it sometimes tugs the steering aggressively to pull the car close to the verge, even if nothing’s coming the other way.
This is especially a problem because I was taught to take as straight a line as possible through corners, as long as you can see far enough ahead, because this is more efficient, economical and places less stress on the car, but as is the case with sibling Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot and DS products, the aggressiveness of the Mokka-e’s lane system actively counters this. Hence the fact that it is now the second button I press (after the start button) every time I get in the car, to disengage the system.
30 June 2021
I’m settling in to electrically powered life with the Vauxhall Mokka-e and I simply could not be happier. I love the way the car drives, with that unrelenting surge of power, and the refinement is staggering.
Better still, it does the humdrum things really well. For example, a recent weekend entailed a trip to Thorpe Park, then on to my better half’s place, where we assessed a DIY job. Then off to Wickes, back to Tracey’s, then off to Toolstation, back to Tracey’s, off to Toolstation again for a forgotten item, and back – you can see how it went.
Job done, we then returned to Thorpe Park, after which we did the 45 miles back to my place. All easily done on a charge, with 56 miles remaining at the end of the day. Range anxiety? Not here.
15 June 2021
The times, they are a changin’! Bob Dylan may have released that back in 1964 but it certainly holds true for the motoring world of today.
With the 2030 ban on new fossil-fuelled cars looming large, the world has got to move on, and at the moment, battery-powered electric vehicles are where the world is going. They certainly work for many people, mainly if you do short journeys and can charge at home or work, but what if you can’t charge at home, have no office to charge up at, and live 50 miles from your significant other?
Has public charging advanced to the extent that you really can live with an EV in such circumstances? Well, that’s what we’re going to find out.
Hence the fact I’m going to be running a new Vauxhall Mokka-e for the next few months.
It’s a car I’ve been looking forward to driving, and the initial impressions are certainly very good. The 100kW (136hp) electric motor certainly gives the car a decent amount of zip out of junctions, and cruising at 60 or 70mph on the motorway is utterly calm. Also, I knew that EVs are quiet, but the Mokka’s sheer refinement has taken me aback. It is fabulously quiet, and allows you to hear real detail from the sound system.
The official WLTP range is 201 miles, but it looks like closer to 160 miles is going to be realistic and comfortable. I’ve used the Zap-Map app to find rapid chargers nearby, and early indications are that they’re quick enough to mean that a charge from, say, 40% to 80% will take around 20 minutes, which is perfectly acceptable. Roll on the next few months!