Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

OPINION: Fear and Loathing in Perthshire – my rocky road with hired electric car

hired electric car
An electric car hooked up to a charger - which is hopefully working.

Transport and environment reporter Scott Milne hired an electric car for a weekend camping trip in Perthshire.

After hearing glowing reports from EV owners for previous articles, he expected it to be a breeze.

However, what he found was a chaotic and unpredictable infrastructure.

This is his experience…

We were somewhere around Dunkeld when the low-battery signal began to flash.

Easy to use? Think again.

What I found is an infrastructure that has some way to go before electric cars overtake petrol and diesel vehicles.

I don’t doubt the electric car owners I have spoken to have been genuine when they praise their pride and joy, and claim long trips just need the odd stop here and there at the plentiful stations.

But my experience was worlds away from theirs.

Is the battery half-full or half-empty?

The weekend did not start well. I wasn’t on the road long when I realised the car was not fully charged. The battery was about half empty.

Granted that is a singular mishap that does not have anything to do with the infrastructure, but it was a sign of things to come.

Because of the depleted battery, it didn’t take long from setting off from Dundee to get the dreaded battery light telling me the car needed a recharge.

hired electric car
Scott Milne was not a happy camper.

My destination of Pitlochry was looking questionable. I calculated I could make it, but with about 10 miles left on the battery, meaning the return journey the next day was out of the question without juice.

It’s okay, I’ll charge when I get there and hang around longer than intended. A coffee wouldn’t go amiss.

Pitlochry isn’t too bad for charging points. The town centre’s car park has a handful of stations, each with capacity for at least two cars. Some even offer a faster charge.

Predictably on a Saturday afternoon, most of the points were taken — not helped by the fact one of the fast-charging stations was broken.

Camping in Perthshire…having given up on charging the electric car.

One of the slower points was free, so I hooked up. The light showed it was charging. Pitlochry is a lovely town for a walk anyway.

About an hour later we returned, unplugged and switched on the engine. Despite what the station’s interface told me, it wasn’t charging. There was still only about 10 miles left before the battery would give up on me.

Why this didn’t work remains a mystery.

Giving up

Patience frayed, I decided to head out to where I was camping. It was only about two miles out of Pitlochry, so I would be okay making it back on Sunday morning for a charge. I might have better luck getting a fast charge point.

While wrestling with the cables that morning, a driver parked up at the (still broken) fast charger. I struck up a conversation, telling him it was busted on Saturday as well.

He told me about a recent trip which took in Aboyne, Breamar and Ballater. Every charger was broken.

“I have enough battery life to get home, I just wanted a wee top-up while I was here,” he told me before driving off. It’s all right for some, I thought.

In any event, after a two-hour charge — walking the opposite direction and taking in the Pitlochry Dam this time — I had enough to get home. Halleluiah.

Heading home

I stopped at Perth for a quick top-up because the car suddenly decided it hadn’t charged as much as it originally told me it did.

There was another headache there, but you’ve read enough. I made it home alive, and I was grateful for that, if nothing else.

Needless to say, it took a half-hour phone call for an assistant to remotely get the charger working.

And even then it started working after she told me she had just received a signal saying it was faulty.

As lovely and helpful as she was, even the people running the infrastructure don’t seem to know how the infrastructure operates.

Even Hunter S Thompson’s chemically-induced imagination would struggle to come up with this.

There’s a cliché that technology is great… when it works. Never have I agreed with that more.

Getting the infrastructure in place to support more electric cars is very much a work in progress.

There’s a big push to get us to go electric. But based on my experience, it’s going to be a long road before that becomes feasible.

If governments and local authorities want us to buy the ticket and take the ride, they need to hold up their end of the bargain and make it as hassle-free as possible.