It took quite a while to convince Mercedes to let me have a eVito L3 for trial but when I booked it I got the chance to have it for almost a week and to take it to the Highlands on a Photographic retreat in Forres with Kim Grant.
I picked the car up in Edinburgh, received some instructions as to the charging of the car and was told to download two apps for that purpose. I drove the car to my home in Fife, according to google maps a journey of 49 miles. The eVito had roughly lost 60 miles from its original charge. At my intro I was surprised to hear that I could not charge the eVito at home.
The drive was nippier than my Viano, it corners well, it is comfortable and has all the things you would excpect from Mercedes. Sadly, including the tailgate and driver’s door not shutting on first instance.
The eVito is a front wheel drive, which I am personally not too keen on but the handling was very fine.
However, it did not provide me the same wow-effect I had experienced when driving the Tesla Model S. It simply drove like a slightly quieter but faster version of my Viano.
That day after work I picked up the eVito and drove it 17 miles to St Andrews to fully charge it in preparation for my retreat up North. After two attempts I found the “right” charging facility, opened the app (which I had pre-fed with my bank details) and plugged it in. It did not work, the app was stuck. I duly called the helpline of ChargePlace and with the friendly help of the female advisor I manage to set it all up. I went away, had some dinner and returned only to find it had charged ZERO miles. I had an early start the next morning so I took it home. Work got a bit hectic so I only got the chance to re-charge it the night before my departure.
After work I took the eVito another 17 miles back to St Andrews for another attempt of charging. This meant I had already done 51 miles just to re-charge the vehicle!
I got there and the rapid charger would not work. I consulted the manual only to find out that there is no chapter on charging the vehicle. I did, however, find it in the appendix. While I was struggling two people with a Tesla appeared, plugged their car in and came over to help me. I went from the rapid charger over to the slower charger, which eventually agreed to work but I had no intention of leaving the vehicle in St Andrews as I had still to do my packing. With the help of my newly acquired Tesla people the mission was successful in the end. The Tesla owners by that time had reached 80% of charge on their vehicle and drove off.
I went for a walk with my boyfriend, who fortunately joined me to pick up the eVito. Sadly, 1 hrs 31 mins after plugging it in the car had reached only 67% of charge (115 miles) which was not enough to drive to Forres the next morning. My boyfriend kindly gave me a lift back home.
I took my Viano to St Andrews to pick up the eVito which had charged 98%. I changed my luggage over and by the time I had turn the key in the ignition I had lost 27 miles without even moving.
I drove off to Forres and when the eVito annouced it had done 100 miles it had in reality only done 66 miles. I started to worry whether I would make it to Forres at all. I did and had about 60 miles left eventually. With my app I drove to a charging station immediately: first one was full, second one did not work, third one I could not find or it did not exit.
Slightly grumpy I left for my morning session of my retreat and at lunch time I drove the car to the charging point which was previously engaged, only to find out that it was a non tethered point. Luckily Mercedes had provided me with a charging cable. The car was left of 3hrs 50 mins and when I returned it had charged to 67%. This was a rapid charger so the 45 mins to 80% does not appear to be quite true. This was however enough to see me through the retreat but not all the way home. I drove it some miles on the next day and quite enjoyed it.
I had to leave the next morning so I had planned to charge the car over night at a tea room, which was close to my accommodation. Unfortunately the charger was out of order.
I drove past my accommodation back to Forres, hooked it up to the same charger and had to walk 2.2 miles along the main road in the pitch black to get to my bed.
I started the day with another 2.2 mile walk but this time went through the woodlands which was quite pleasant.
When I reached the car, the charger had switched off. I entered the car, turned the key in the iginition and to my great delight it stated it had 100% charge.
I authorized the charger in the attempt to get my charging cable back but sadly it now state the charge station was out of order and refused to let me unplug the cable. A few more attempts let me leave with the cable.
I drove it back to St Andrews without any issues, took it through the skiing area and enjoyed the downhill gaining of extra miles, but also realised how heavy this vehicle is. The breaks are strong but on 20% decline it felt like an effort….
When I arrived in St Andrews I plugged it back in and returned home in my Viano.
The following day I drove my Viano to the nearest train station, took a taxi back to the eVito, drove it back to Mercedes in Edinburgh and returned by train.
With an annual mileage of approximately 70.000 going electric would make a lot of sense.
25% of my average turn over are spent on fuel plus insurance, repairs, road tax etc. An electric vehicle could provide massive savings.
The eVito with 230 miles range would not be feasible for my business. I could possibly wait 45 mins for a decent re-charge but charging appears unpredictable and unreliable. The problem is not that there are not any chargers, but they might be engaged or broken or not even there anymore.
I ended up downloading three apps for charging points, everyone of them providing different information. The ChargePlace app only worked once for charging for the duration of 11mins. I am writing this five days after returning to the car to Mercedes and my bank account has not been charged yet. Once it will I shall update on the cost of my electric vehicle trial.
In my experience the eVito is way too needy, which is a shame. I will drive my Viano until I can afford a Tesla.
I scheduled a meeting with friends who own a Tesla to quizz them how their re-charging works. They got a charger installed at their home (though Tesla provides you with an ordinary plug). The cost per mile when charging the vehicle at home is 1 pence per mile.
The car tells them when and where to charge as part of its route planning. My friends had taken their Tesla recently to London. It was no problem. No waiting, no chargers out of order, no problem to find a charger and no worries whether the car would get them to their destination. The Tesla has a range on 380 miles but you are advised for the safe keeping of the battery to operate it within 20 to 80 % of charge which provides approximately 180 miles range.
The supercharge does indeed take 15-20 min for an 80% load (which is recommended for the longlivity of the battery). After reaching 80% the charge slows down to encourage you to drive off and free the charger for others.
The difference is that all is an integrated part of of the experience. The Tesla software does everything you need for you.