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Charging an all-electric 2022 Kia Niro

Low battery blues

2022 Kia Niro EV: A little more cord would have gone a long way.
2022 Kia Niro EV: A little more cord would have gone a long way.

I’m the sort of person who would be glad to own an electric car. I just need it to be affordable, fun to drive, and able to make 300 miles on a single charge. So I was excited when the guy at the car-rental desk offered me a spacious, crisp-white, all-electric 2022 Kia Niro crossover as an alternative to a homely econobox gasoline car.

Day one with the car was a dream. Then it came time for charging. The Kia offered three options: the main two involved connector ports inside a cute cubby compartment embedded in the car’s front grille. One worked with faster charging units, but I soon learned that you pay significantly more for the speed. Then, stowed in the back was a 120-volt, three-pronged plug at the end of a cord that proved too short to reach any of the outlets in my condo-complex home. Had it be a couple dozen feet longer, I might have avoided the troubles to come.

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I found my first charging station via the interactive map on the Electrify America app, and the charging unit did its work quickly, easily, and inexpensively. I powered the car up to about 120 miles of range in about an hour. My confidence boosted, the next day I let the car fall to just under 40 miles remaining. Then I got a call from a publisher that I’d being trying to make happen for months. I chatted for a chunk of time, during which I drove stupidly and somewhat aimlessly around La Jolla.

The author after his first charge-up, blissfully unaware of the sorrows to come.

Bong-bong. “-- miles remaining” read the message on the LED display. Not enough juice left to even estimate the range! Ending the call somewhat abruptly, I began what turned out to be an hours-log hunt for a nearby, functional charging station. First, I found a two-unit station behind a closed office complex not far from UCSD. It instantly began charging — but not my car. While the car continued losing power even as it was plugged in, the thing threatened to drain my bank account.

I got a zap worth eight miles at another unit before it inexplicably stopped charging and refused to start up again. That began my real wandering: Hillcrest to Rancho Bernardo and back, in search of precious electricity. Sometimes, I limped in with just a couple of miles left on the gauge. But I did learn something new: there are a handful of free charging stations in San Diego, one of them at the old DMV lot in Hillcrest. It even has two charger ports…but only one of them works. And when I arrived there, a very nice gentleman was using the other one. I turned back to my app, and it sent me to Whole Foods on University. Naturally, it boasted a bunch of the eco-friendly charge stations. And naturally, they were all occupied by Teslas, plus one Jaguar. I shopped. I ate. I entertained myself. I never did get my turn.

Joe Biden’s recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill includes $7.5 billion dedicated to installing 500,000 new stations. Until then, I’ll wait on my purchase — and maybe even my next rental.

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2022 Kia Niro EV: A little more cord would have gone a long way.
2022 Kia Niro EV: A little more cord would have gone a long way.

I’m the sort of person who would be glad to own an electric car. I just need it to be affordable, fun to drive, and able to make 300 miles on a single charge. So I was excited when the guy at the car-rental desk offered me a spacious, crisp-white, all-electric 2022 Kia Niro crossover as an alternative to a homely econobox gasoline car.

Day one with the car was a dream. Then it came time for charging. The Kia offered three options: the main two involved connector ports inside a cute cubby compartment embedded in the car’s front grille. One worked with faster charging units, but I soon learned that you pay significantly more for the speed. Then, stowed in the back was a 120-volt, three-pronged plug at the end of a cord that proved too short to reach any of the outlets in my condo-complex home. Had it be a couple dozen feet longer, I might have avoided the troubles to come.

Sponsored
Sponsored

I found my first charging station via the interactive map on the Electrify America app, and the charging unit did its work quickly, easily, and inexpensively. I powered the car up to about 120 miles of range in about an hour. My confidence boosted, the next day I let the car fall to just under 40 miles remaining. Then I got a call from a publisher that I’d being trying to make happen for months. I chatted for a chunk of time, during which I drove stupidly and somewhat aimlessly around La Jolla.

The author after his first charge-up, blissfully unaware of the sorrows to come.

Bong-bong. “-- miles remaining” read the message on the LED display. Not enough juice left to even estimate the range! Ending the call somewhat abruptly, I began what turned out to be an hours-log hunt for a nearby, functional charging station. First, I found a two-unit station behind a closed office complex not far from UCSD. It instantly began charging — but not my car. While the car continued losing power even as it was plugged in, the thing threatened to drain my bank account.

I got a zap worth eight miles at another unit before it inexplicably stopped charging and refused to start up again. That began my real wandering: Hillcrest to Rancho Bernardo and back, in search of precious electricity. Sometimes, I limped in with just a couple of miles left on the gauge. But I did learn something new: there are a handful of free charging stations in San Diego, one of them at the old DMV lot in Hillcrest. It even has two charger ports…but only one of them works. And when I arrived there, a very nice gentleman was using the other one. I turned back to my app, and it sent me to Whole Foods on University. Naturally, it boasted a bunch of the eco-friendly charge stations. And naturally, they were all occupied by Teslas, plus one Jaguar. I shopped. I ate. I entertained myself. I never did get my turn.

Joe Biden’s recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill includes $7.5 billion dedicated to installing 500,000 new stations. Until then, I’ll wait on my purchase — and maybe even my next rental.

Sponsored
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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