Tata Nexon EV max: My experience after 3 highway trips

It lasted in all 45 hours while munching down 1058 KMS. This journey taught me a lot about how to plan a Highway trip in an EV and be prepared for the worst to come along.

BHPian rkmunjuluri recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

After doing 3 highway trips I learnt the following 3 sutras and I will have to live by them for making most of the EV.

  • Your best friend for EV Trips is “Plug Share” Desktop/laptop version for planning and mobile version during the trip.
  • Things you cannot control but which can drastically impact your trip – Reliability of charging infra, Weather and accompanied Power Fluctuations/Power Outages.
  • Worst enemies of EV Range – Altitude changes, HARSH THROTTLE and your state of mind (based on point 2)

Highway Trip 1

Bangalore -> Ongole -> Bangalore

This was the first highway trip in the EV which had completed 1081 kms and its first service the day before. I had also never utilized any fast charging infrastructure till that time.

Below was the plan chalked out for the trip using plugshare website and on the right hand side of the pic, I had highlighted the potential charging/refreshment stops enroute.

Elevation changes are chalked out below by the website and we can see that Bangalore is at an altitude of almost 900 meters from sea level and Ongole at almost sea level. So going to Ongole will be less demanding on battery than coming back to Bangalore.

Day 1 Summary

  • Charging Bill – INR 773.36
  • Restaurant Bill – INR 554
  • Relux charger performance & reliability – 5/5
  • Breakfast Buffet – 3.5/5
  • Restrooms – 3.5/5
  • Parking space and ease of access to hotel – 4/5
  • Distance Covered – 396.4 KMS
  • Total battery percentage consumed and Mileage – 132%, 300KMS per charge
  • Total time spent on Road – 8 Hours
  • Total time using ICE vehicle could have been – 6 Hours 30 mins to 7 hours.

Day 2 Summary

  • Charging Bill – INR 1867.31
  • Food Bill – INR 2800
  • Ravi Priya Mall, Zeon Fast Charger, Ongole.
  • Performance and reliability – 5/5
  • Washrooms and options to kill time – 4/5
  • Parking – 3.5/5

Kritunga Restaurant, Zeon Fast Charger, Gudur.

  • Performance and Reliability – 4/5
  • Restrooms – 4/5
  • Parking space – 5/5
  • Tea/Coffee/Food – 4/5

Taj Hotel, Tata Fast Charger, Tirupati.

  • Performance and Reliability – 5/5
  • Restrooms – 5/5
  • Parking space – 3.5/5
  • Tea/Coffee/Food – 4/5 (Too Costly)

Aaradhya Grand Restaurant, Zeon Fast Charger, Kolar.

  • Performance and Reliability – 5/5
  • Restrooms – 4/5
  • Parking space – 5/5
  • Tea/Coffee/Food – 4/5

Trip stats

Distance Covered – 680.7 KMS

Total battery percentage consumed and Mileage – 267%, 254 KMS per charge

Total time spent on Road – 15 Hours

Total time using ICE vehicle could have been – 12 Hours (For the kind of journey we had to do)

If you want more details about the journey and the issues encountered, then read along:

Day 1 – Bangalore start time 5:30 AM, SOC – 100%, Total Passengers – 2, Luggage – 2 backpacks, some snacks and fruits, lots of water bottles, Google projected travel time – 9 hours

Close to Nandi Food Plaza, we still had 50% SOC left and the next point was some 90 KMS away, so we moved along to Tirupati, Hotel Bhimas by 9:10 AM with 17% SOC still left. In all we covered close to 249 KMS with 83% SOC. I did touch 110 speed at one time, but most of the drive was done using cruise control set to 100.

As this was my first fast charger usage, some time wasted (8 to 10 Mins) in figuring out the detail. We spent close to 1 hour 25 mins there and charged up to 96% SOC in two charging sessions.
It is 30KW DC fast charger by Relux.

We restarted our journey at 10:35 and the next stop was 95 kms from there in Gudur at Kritunga Restaurant. It was a 25KW charger by Zeon and was showing offline. Customer care informed us that there was some issue and it might come back up by evening or the day after.

We took a small break after Nellore Toll Plaza and when we restarted our journey, the air coming from AC seemed very hot. Even the ventilated seats were throwing hot air. Not sure why this happened, but never faced again this so far. So we switched off the AC, pulled the windows down and continued our journey as Nellore was around 15 KMS and we were confident we can find some charging option there and figure out the issue with AC then.

My cousin who was with me hails from Nellore and by the time we reached Nellore we had covered close to 135 KMS and left with 52% charge. We checked with MG showroom and they mentioned, they wont allow any other vehicles other than MG for charging. Tata Motors has a charger but it was not working as the showroom people did not install a Transformer which can support the charger.

Our final destination was a small village 15 KMS from Ongole and google was showing we had to still cover close to 145 Kms. Though we had charging infrastructure in Ongole, distance to it was close to 139 Kms. So we decided against travelling further and went to my cousins place.

Reached there by around 2 PM after covering close to 148 KMS and 47% SOC Remaining.

After making a lot of phone calls and enquiring with many people and businesses, my cousin decided to get a 16A plug setup done at his home, to which my portable charger can reach.

Plugged the EV to charge from around 4:30 PM till around 10PM and then morning 5 AM till 8 AM the next day. SOC moved from 47 to 100.

Day 2 – Nellore Start time – 8:15 AM, SOC – 100%, Total Passengers – 4, Luggage – Few water bottles

Uneventful morning. clocked 145 KMS in 2 hours 10 mins and leverage cruise control set to 100 most of the time. Reached the Function hall by 10:25 AM.

After Lunch went to Ravi Priya mall, Ongole for charging. Charging infrastructure again is provided by Zeon and it is a 50KW DC charger.

Reached there with 40% SOC remaining after covering 158 KMS in 60% charge. It took close to 1 hour 15 mins for attaining 100% SOC. 95 to 100 took close to 15 mins.

Finally the return journey started at 3:30 PM after running some errands at Ongole, added probably another 50 kgs luggage and reached Nellore to my cousins place by 5:15 PM. As the Zeon Charger in Gudur was up and and running, we felt confident we can make it back to Bangalore quick enough and also explore positives and negatives of driving EV at night. So quickly packed up bags, topped up water bottles and left Nellore by 5:30 PM.

Reached Kritunga Restaurant in Gudur by 6:15 PM and spent close to 45 minutes there. Topped up SOC from 25% to 59% using a 25 KW Zeon Charger. Total Distance covered, close to 180 KMS in 76% charge while driving it constantly around 100 in cruise, with very quick accelerations.

Decided to stop at Taj Tirupati for Dinner which had 2, 30KW Tata Chargers.

Reached Tirupati by 9 PM. SOC remaining was 26%. Distance covered 94 KMS in 32% SOC. Speeds were maintained around 85 as I had never driven this vehicle in the night using headlights even in the city till that time. By the time we finished our dinner and freshened up, the battery reached 92% and took 65 minutes. So we restarted our journey from Tirupati at 10:10 PM.

Next stop was decided as Nandi Food Plaza, as it was around 90KMS away and after a quick 20 to 30 mins top up there we can reach home without range anxiety.

But fate had other plans. We were constantly monitoring the charger and it was showing online till 11:15 PM. We reached there at 11:22 and guess what, the charger was offline. We tried reaching the customer care with zero luck. We scouted for other chargers and figured out there is a 50KW DC charger in Kolar by Zeon in Aaradhya Grand Restaurant.

We still had close to 57% charge left and the charging point was around 95 KMS away. But the challenge was we were using high beam constantly, AC was on and the altitude changes that are going to come up are very steep and will take a toll on Battery.

So we decided to keep checking the battery drop speeds and then decide on switching off the AC and either opening sunroof or keeping the windows open.

I started the vehicle and the path to highway is a steep slope down from the charging point, so once the dial was set to drive mode and parking break was disengaged the vehicle gliding down, but when I was pressing the accelerator there was no response. Pressed the accelerator harder, no response. The vehicle was just gliding along and even the regen braking was not getting engaged. I slowly steered the vehicle to the side of the highway, kept the parking light on, took a deep breath and switched off the vehicle. Switched it on, nothing fishy on MID, no beeps or alarms from vehicle and it started gliding again, no power delivery even after pressing the accelerator all the way down.

By this time my cousin started freaking out, and panic started kicking in for me as well. It was almost midnight, apart from few ICE vehicles zipping past us every now and then, there was absolutely no soul around. We were also not sure how much help any of those fellow travelers be as we might have less than 30K EVs on Highways in India and probably the chance that the one we might flag down has the knowledge of an EV, was less than attaining Nirvana for myself.

I switched off the vehicle one more time and hoping for a miracle, switched it on again. Now I was unable to move the steering at all and when I observed the MID, it was displaying the steering locked symbol. Now both of us were literally freaking out. But I was defending my decision of buying an EV and using it for highway drives very strongly in my heart. So switched of the vehicle one more time, got out of the car, asked my cousin also to get out of the car. Took some deep breaths and started opening and closing all the doors. Switched on the car again, same old error of the steering wheel being locked. Switched it off again. Came out of the car, played back everything that has unfolded in the last 5 to 7 mins from the time we parked the car at Nandi Food Plaza.

I am not sure why, but I thought about the charging port of the Car. Generally when we are plugged in, the car will not even allow us to start ignition till the time the gun is removed. So I opened the charging port, removed the lids and closed them again. Gave them a good knock after that and closed the lid. Got into the Car, switched on the ignition and the miracle became a reality. The Steering lock signal from MID vanished. Tapped the accelerator ever so gently and the car responded and the steering wheel was free. Can’t explain the feeling and relief we had, in words.

At last we thought the drama has ended and we started our journey again. To save battery and remove any range anxiety from equation, we switched off AC, turned off High beam and started driving around 70 to 80 KMPH speeds. Just then the weather gods decided to send some rain along. It started drizzling and as the outside temperature was around 20, 21, with the windows up and AC off, fog was getting developed pretty quickly. So we had to switch on AC, keep couple of windows slightly down to reduce the fogging frequency. We switched on High beam as well to ensure better visibility in rain.

Just to be cautious we called up Zeon customer care and they assured that the Charger will be available 24*7. It was showing online in the App as well and in case by the time we reach there, if we face any issue, they assured of support even at that hour.

When we were around 30 KMS to the charger the SOC was showing 30% and I felt more confident and started driving more spiritedly as the rain also subsided by that time. At 12:55 AM on 1st Aug we reached Aaradhya Grand Restaurant in Kolar with 17% SOC remaining. Covered around 175 KMS with 75% SOC. This was while maintaining cruise speeds of around 90/95 till Nandi food plaza and after that till Aaradhya grand doing mostly 80.

My Cousin had enough adventure already and though we had to cover only around 70 KMS, he was unwilling to start the journey till we reached 50% SOC. So we ordered some tea, walked around the parking area to kill time.
After 30 Mins when we attained 56% SOC we restarted our journey at 1:25 AM. No further issues, surprises here after and were able to reach home by 2:40 PM. SOC remaining was 34% and we did close to 70 KMS with 22% SOC while managing cruise speeds of around 90 most of time.

Atleast we were able to conclude first ever Highway trip in EV Max. It lasted in all 45 hours while munching down 1058 KMS. This journey taught me a lot about how to plan a Highway trip in an EV and be prepared for the worst to come along.

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