I still recall – talking to most of the people about electric vehicles and their varied opinions. All just had one thing in common to speak – we aren’t ready for electric cars yet. There is no charging infra and travelling to a far-off city – looks impossible. At MotorOctane, we love doing the impossible. First we rode the Okinawa iPraise electric scooters from Gurgaon to Ladakh and now we were craving for something even bigger. This was our chance – to get a statement changed.
When I made up my mind, I had no plan in hand. All I had was a mindset. I have to do it. We spoke to various car brands for their support, surprisingly not all were keen to think that far. A couple of them did show interest with MG being sold on our concept. Now, it was our turn to prove our metal. I being an OctaneAddict, didn’t experience electric vehicles that much. All that was experienced was the media drives. Else I didn’t have the mindset to even call them for a review. A mind block, which I realised was stopping me from experiencing these products. After a lot of learning on the web and connecting with multiple Whatsapp EV groups, I chalked out a plan to do 72 hours from Mumbai to Delhi.
Figuring out charging was stressful indeed. How will I drive for this long, at 40-45km/hr what will happen to the time we shall take? What if we encounter traffic and we run out of battery. We had calculated our average speed as 35km/hr, and that when we would have made it in 72 hours flat. What if we fail? Trust me, the amount of sleepless nights I had – gave me next level of stress. This was purely because of the limited knowledge on how electric cars perform on a long distance. Whenever the entire planning team got on the board to make the schedule more workable, we only had arguments on how fast can we go, what will be the charging time and no clear results were achieved. Finally the time came when we got the car for testing.
Initially I was not sure of how will it turn out. I started testing the car by driving from Mumbai to Pune at about 60km/hr with AC and cruise control. Every 5 seconds I did see the meters for the speed, for the power consumption and the range remaining. I started driving at midnight and if you are a frequent Mumbai-Pune traveller, one is aware of the heavy truck traffic on the ghats past midnight. This is where the consumption increased and range fell like a pack of cards. It wasn’t the range that was going down, it was my confidence. However, after a sleepless night of testing and driving it in it day. I was a changed person. Confident that I can drive quick and more efficiently. I closed in on the date as 23rd February 01:00am. In no time, D-day did come in.
I had reached the MG Motors Jogeshwari showroom in Mumbai at 10:30pm. Charged the battery and was set to leave. We had a quick conversation with our camera crew, shot the opening sequence and we were off. 1:06am, 23rd February we were enroute to Delhi, we left a bit late to ensure everything was fine. As the saying goes, do something difficult and challenges will keep coming at you. We encountered Mumbai traffic post midnight. All the flyovers were shut for some maintenance or metro work. After about one and half hours we managed to cross the outskirts of the city with all this traffic. Now we were maintaining about 60-70km/hr on the dial, driving in Eco mode and using KERS to its maximum potential.
Viraat was on the wheel and a couple of times I had dozed off as a co-driver. I had a feeling that he might sleep off. Once he was slowly braking and I thought he had slept off. I went on to hold the steering wheel pissing off Viraat. We were due to reach Surat in 7.5 hours, however we made it there by 6:43am. We did it in about 5 hours and thirty-seven minutes. About two hours of time – that is what we had cut out. Added to this, our charging time was done by 12:30pm instead of the estimated 3:00pm. We reached Surat with a power of 29% in our lithium army. This was unbelievable. We were saving our power as we knew the point shall be the same. This trip was done with AC on always. Our power consumption was 11.7kW/100km. Total distance was about 275kms. This did give us a lot of confidence for the next leg. We had cut out about 3 hours on the first leg itself. Now it is when my mind changed its thought, how can be reduce the timelines. When leaving from Surat, I had estimated to cut about 14 hours from the entire trip. And this was do-able. At Surat, the team did manage to catch up to about 3 hours of sleeps and I was all excited doing the new time calculation. Up next was some awesome Gujarati breakfast, which I did order through a regular food delivery app. Every authentic Gujarati breakfast dish I saw had an option of cheese or mayo on it. Fascinating.
Next leg was Ahmedabad. We did go through some Surat traffic and this is when we lost some time. It was more towards Baruch that we did lose a lot of time. To cover it up, I was on the wheel and the Vadodara-Ahmedabad highway I covered at max legal speed of 100km/hr. I was aware that with a DC charger to back us we shall have more than enough power to sail us through and cover up the time. We made it to Ahmedabad dealership by 6:40pm approximately with a lead of about 4 hours now. DC charger did take its 1.5 hours to charge and we had completed our talk, dinner and were good to scoot to the next location Udaipur. We had 19% juice left, despite going 100km/hr for a while. Gujarat was hot and the temperatures were close to 32degC, so AC was mandatory. Drive was always on Eco mode and this is vital for us. By 8:20pm on the same day we did leave from Ahmedabad. The distance we covered was 285kms approximately and we were sailing through.
This is when Viraat got back on the wheel. I knew one thing, I needed some sleep. For tomorrow. For this reason, I moved on the back seat and dozed off after we moved out of the city. This was indeed needed for the next day. It has been a tiring trip, and my mind was a tad happy as we were a bit ahead of our schedule. The Udaipur route had multiple diversions and that was our biggest concern along with some uphill driving. Leaving all my worries to Viraat, I did get some good sleep. Only to wake up that we have crossed most of the leg and about 40-50kms were left to Udaipur. We have estimated about 8 hours of drive to Udaipur, we did it make it by 1:45am. We were just 24 hours in, and we had a massive lead. When we were more than half in the first day itself. The charge showed us an estimated time of 100% charge as 9:00 approx. We did check the system and it was showing at 96% only at 7:30am. This was amazing. So, by 8:15 we knew we should leave. We moved out by 8:30am. The charging happened at the Udaipur dealership itself. We had 10% charge left and a distance of 285kms was covered. This was a lot of uphill and diversions. All this had taken a toll on this leg. But it did end well. I managed to get 7 hours of sleep in total. I was ready for the next whole day of long drive.
This leg from Udaipur to Jaipur did seem a bit difficult to complete. About 350kms to be done. We drove down with a lot of ease. I started driving very relaxed and this leg had uphill and a single-lane highway too. Gunning wasn’t an option so I drove smoothly across this leg. The drive was smooth and comfortable. And I had switched off the AC. Trust me, with the windows down it was a lot cooler. With the windows raised, the temperature was boiling like inside the car. So, open was the best way. The stretch of about 80-90kms on single lane was a bit of a stress bit as braking had to be quicker and it was difficult to cross across the terrain. It was later on that we had to reduce the speed to about 55km/hr on the wider roads to compensate for the braking we had done. This is when the idea changed and we lost many of our previous hours as we did slow down. We reached Jaipur by about 4:30pm in the late afternoon with about 5% of power left. This meant we had to hang on a longer time. Our power consumption was about 11.2kW/100km as per the meter and we won’t have gone too much further. We did cover close to 369kms in total. Average speed was close to 43km/hr majorly due to the single-lane highway. It was on this leg that we worked 1000kms in 36 hours.
Jaipur is where we had to take the call – if we should charge 100% or no. At about 9:00pm with 76% of charge we departed from Jaipur. We weren’t sure if Gurgaon is also possible. There is a magical route that goes from Jaipur to Delhi for about 75kms and it had no traffic. There are NH48A/B on offer. There were no lights on the route but no traffic also. We were comfortably cruising at 60km/hr until the two highways merged. That is when there was a lot of heavy traffic on the route. This route connects at Shahpura. Here the car was showing a range of 165kms, MG Gurgaon was 172kms and MG Delhi was 202kms. Things did look not do-able. A top-up was requirement. I carried on with my pace of 65-70km/hr across. I was confident as even the power consumption was 10.3kW/100kms, the lowest I have ever got on the ZS EV. As we entered Haryana, Gurgaon was 100kms and Delhi dealership 130kms. Our range was 105kms. There was some hope in me. I wanted to cross 1500kms before it becomes 50 hours and DC charging won’t have helped me then. The only hiccup was Manesar had a massive red patch of traffic on maps.
Our team was concerned about. But not me. I never I clear it without any problem. And so I did. With a lot of ease. There was no problem what so ever and we easily crossed MG Gurgaon with a range of 45kms left and Delhi dealership at 30kms only. We entered Delhi by 2:45am. Post that we were celebrating our victory and in this we lost the route to the dealership and landed there by 3:29am. We had crossed out 1500km mark and were very happy about it. This didn’t need anything more than this for us to showcase as our achievement. We still had 10% charge left and 30kms of range too. What we did was fight against our thoughts and achieve. 10.3kW/100km was achieved and average speed was 53km/hr. The overall trip average speed was 49km/hr, 1511kms, 29 hours of driving trip and 11.5kW/100km was the power consumption. One hour extra it shows in as the car was on in Mumbai dealership during our shoot.
Electric Vehicles are ready for long haul. We as humans aren’t ready mentally to expect it. Of course with more DC chargers it will be a different ball-game, but even now the situation isn’t bad. All our charging were at MG satellite dealerships for EV and only Ahmedabad was a DC fast charger. Drive was comfortable, and with no IC engine vibrations. The entire journey was comfortable and we had no problems at any given point. In the entire trip, the only time we were looking at range was the last leg, purely for a mindset of not leaving at 100% charge. Else, everything was normal like a petrol car. One needs to learn to take maximum potential of the KERS, which comes handy in most of the situations. We will be soon getting our video on the MG ZS EV road trip in the coming few days. Stay tuned for more.