In Thailand, I see EV everywhere. I had even been on a few EV Taxis. But, before, this, I had never driven an EV before, in Thailand or elsewhere. My association with EVs started and ended with this article I researched 14 years ago.
This week, we had many holidays, so we decided to take a day-trip to a nearby beach. Opening the car rental app, I was surprised to see that the cheapest car for that day was an EV. Normally I wouldn’t have given it a second thought, but the deal was too good to pass up. So I went ahead and booked it, an Ora Good Cat.
The first few hours after booking were a bit stressful. I had never driven an EV before, much less a rental. So I started researching everything about how to drive an EV in Thailand.
First, I made a list of EV charging providers in Thailand.
The below providers do not allow expats to register at all, because a Thai ID number and verification is necessary.
The below providers allow registration of expats without the need for a Thai ID number.
These providers all have helpful apps which let you locate a charging station on a map.
Using this app, I also found out that there are different charging standards and sockets.
Using this information, I was able to locate charging stations near the beach, on the highway while coming back and near the rental agency to charge it before returning.
Having completed my research, now it was time to finally drive an EV in Thailand!
The first impression of the car is that it is actually much bigger than it looks. It is the size of a Suzuki Swift or Hyundai i20. The rental came fully loaded – Apple Wireless CarPlay, wireless charging, Sunroof, partial autonomous driving assist.
The CarPlay display is big (and wide). Apple Maps can even detect that the car is an EV and overlays EV charging stations all over the map. Apparently it can even take range information from the car and warn you if you are too far from the nearest charging station, but I didn’t dare test that out.
Anyways, this is not a car review, so I will now focus on the EV aspects of the drive.
The first thing that comes to mind when driving an EV for the first time is – power. It is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I had driven high-end ICE cars and this low-end EV blows them out of the water. The torque is instantaneous, linear and never-ending. If the cheapest EV feels like this, what do the premium EVs feel like?
Overtaking on highways is a breeze. Just a tap of the accelerator and the car races ahead, pushing you back in its seats. I pushed the car up to 180kmph and it still felt like it had more torque left.
However, all this was marred by range anxiety. I couldn’t help but notice the range indicator all the way to the beach, counting down kms as we drove. Am sure seasoned EV drivers have trained themselves to not notice these things too much, but it was always on my mind. I even felt guilty playing music – will it discharge the battery even faster? The biggest power draw (after driving), though, is the AC. It easily takes away 20-30% of the promised range.
While on the way to the beach, we stopped at a gas station to pick up some coffee. There was an EV charger there so I decided to top up for 10 minutes. Unfortunately the charger was out of service. Bad sign.
We reached the beach exhausting 60% battery with 40% left. I immediately went to the charging station I had decided on in advance. Fortunately, there was an empty slot. Charging the car was easy. I had already downloaded the EA Anywhere app and a quick scan of the QR code opened up the door on the side with the charging cable. The app guided me through the rest of the process and I was up charging in no time.
This was a 40KW DC charger so I went from 40% to 95% in less than an hour. There are faster DC chargers available as well (I couldn’t find one near the beach) but most other chargers are AC and much slower.
Technically I could have left my car to charge and gone to the beach (the app would have notified me when charging was finished), but I was afraid someone would disconnect the charger so I hung around. Later I found out the charger gets locked while charging and cannot be removed without stopping manually from the app. There’s also an overtime fee if you don’t disconnect the charger within 5 minutes of finishing charging.
Fast charging an EV is a dramatic affair. The EV’s cooling system is on full blast, the charger is blowing wind like a hurricane. An MG4 in the next bay overheated twice and stopped charging.
While returning, I was more frugal with performance and drove steadily at 90. I needed to return the car with at least 40% charge, so I was a little anxious, still. I even switched off the AC for the last few kms when the charge dropped below 50%. Luckily, I was able to return the car with 46% battery left.
Overall, driving an EV was both fun and stressful. I have never driven anything quite like it. However, the stress is too much for someone like me who already suffers from anxiety. But I am sure the second time will be easier than the first.