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Old 3rd November 2021, 12:10   #1
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Default Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

My first thread on Team-BHP after having been a member for eight years.

I've owned the Nexon EV for a little over four months now, having booked it in Feb 2020 but deferring the purchase to June 2021 due to lockdowns. Acquiring the Nexon EV was the culmination of a 6 year+ wait through which I persisted with my ageless Opel Corsa Sail, waiting for the right EV to come along. My usage had been almost entirely urban with the occasional Mahabs run. So when I had a reason to visit my hometown, I opted to drive rather than fly. And that's how my epic road trip came about.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-complete_route_map.png
Complete route map with charging pitstops

Traveling solo with luggage of about 60Kgs, I was entirely dependent on Tata Power (TP) Fast Chargers (FC) along the way. That was a gamble in itself as I had never done an FC at a TP point but had heard plenty of horror stories of inexplicable errors, especially with Exicom chargers. But the first big unknown was the absence of an FC between Chennai and Ongole which meant figuring out a slow charge (SC) somewhere along the way.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-toll_collage.jpeg
Crossed 20 toll booths. Here are four.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-milestone1.jpeg
Long road to Eden

Day 1/23rd Oct - Chennai to Vijayawada
Left home at around 0400 and drove without AC, averaging 60kmph to keep the Wh/km below 100. As I approached Nellore, I was already scouting potential SC locations. After a few futile requests to restaurants and fuel pumps, I finally got lucky at a CCD just after Manabolu and before Nellore, at around 0800. The sole attendent - a kind lady - allowed me to charge but had to inform her supervisor on the phone, who was much less cooperative. Despite my offer to pay (which was declined), I had to leave with just an hour of SC which barely topped up 10%. I did buy a can of CCD's Red Bull clone energy drink for 100 bucks out of courtesy.



Reaching the Velampalli FC beyond Ongole would be touch-and-go, hence I decided to stop at the Varalakshmi Motors showroom (which was right on the highway) to request for some SC. But they didn't have an appropriate outlet and directed me to their service center in Nellore, which was a rather long detour. I ended up charging to 90% which added almost 4 hours to the trip. The service manager insisted on opening a job card and I paid about Rs. 100 for the units consumed. Very professional!

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-ccd.jpeg
Charging at CCD. A 20m extension cable to the rescue.

Leaving Nellore at almost 1400, I finally reached Aavas Resorts, Velampalli after 1700. A few errors and calls to Tata Power helpline later, charging finally commenced. The Delta charger juiced up the batteries at a fast clip and an hour (and Rs. 425) later, I was finally on my way to my stopover for the night, Vijayawada which I arrived at around 2100.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-aavas.jpeg
First FC at Aavas Resorts, Velampalli

Day 2/24th Oct - Vijaywada - Rajahmundry - Vizag

Left the hotel early and reached Jayalakshmi Auto MG Showroom at 0600 where I had my first encounter with the infamous Exicom charger. It is a different beast from chargers of the Delta make, with its own idiosyncrasies and error codes. But a little perseverance and experiences of others on the Tamil Nadu Nexon EV WhatsApp group soon had me on my way. I must acknowlege the warmth show by the security guard who took down my details in a register and invited me to wait in the customer's lounge and upon my declining to do so, offered me a couple of bottles of water. A full charge set me back by Rs. 305 and I was hotfooting to Rajahmundry in no time. Reached Siva Sankar Tata Motors, Hukumpeta at 1100 and had my first error free FC through the Delta charger which cost Rs. 544. And I was off to Vizag a couple of hours later.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-mg_vijaywa.jpeg
MG Jayalakshmi Auto, Vijaywada

Reached the Croma FC at Siripuram Circle, Vizag by 1630 but the darned Delta charger just wouldn't function. After wasting an hour dealing with a farrago of errors and a clueless Tata Power helpline, I had to abandon this outlet and headed to MG Tristar on Rushikonda beach. The owner Mr. Rama Rao was around and was most hospitable, despite one of the staff making misleading statements about the charger's availability, I was able to achieve 100% SOC from its Delta charger for Rs. 545, in under two hours. Left Vizag at around 1930, and lay ahead of me the most daunting drive ever - 270+ kms till the next FC in Berhampur.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-mg_vizag.jpeg
MG Tristar, Vizag

Day 3/25th Oct - Berhampur - Bhubaneshwar

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-welcometoodisha.jpeg
Feels good to be back on home turf.

The drive from Vizag started on a rather ominous note as I had to navigate the hills resulting in a high Wh/Km. But as the terrain levelled off, the DTE started to creep up and I was feeling more confident. An excruciatingly long and painfully slow all-night drive later, I finally arrived at the Tata Motors - Dion Automobiles Service in Ankuli, Berhampur at around 3 AM with 9% charge remaining. It took me over eight hours to cover 276 kms using 91% charge, but I had crossed the chasm. I took a nap in the car as it charged up all the way to 100% in about 90 mins which cost Rs. 557, and I embarked upon the final leg of the journey from Berhampur at 5 AM. The early morning drive to Bhubaneswar was a breeze as I had fun through some bendy ghat roads and managed to click the rising sun to my right. I finally reached my destination at around 0800.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-sunrise.jpeg
Hello sunshine.

Observations:
  1. The excellent handling and suspension make the Nexon EV a great highway cruiser.
  2. While Tata Power's charging infrastructre is terribly error-prone and the user experience sucks, I'm grateful it exists. Other FC networks like Zeon, Statiq, Relux etc. offer better experience but may not be able to scale Pan-India. It's time Tata took customer experience seriously.
  3. The highways were mostly in good shape, though diversions make night driving a tad risky.
  4. Total cost of electricity (including SC) was about 2500 and tolls added another 1484.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 13:54   #2
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Nice travelogue there and hats off for attempting such a drive on an EV. 1300 Kms is not an easy task on any car for that matter. I guess this is the first in Team BHP.

Would like to know
1. What is the overall time taken for charging alone?
2. How was the feeling when the charge was getting low to single digits and the Charging Points are unknown?
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Old 3rd November 2021, 15:56   #3
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Thanks Kernellman for sharing your experience on the Nexon EV journey to Odisha and the charging reality in India. Looking at your experience, I see that we are still far away from long distance touring in EVs. The current infra doesn't give you enough confidence to travel long distances in EVs. Personally I would switch to EVs may be around a decade from now where we might see fast chargers, good infra and long ranges from EVs.

It's my long dream to travel to Odisha by Car and such travelogues now itching me more nd more
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Old 3rd November 2021, 21:35   #4
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Quote:
Originally Posted by saisree View Post
Would like to know
1. What is the overall time taken for charging alone?
2. How was the feeling when the charge was getting low to single digits and the Charging Points are unknown?
Thanks Saisree.

1. Time for FC is pretty consistent. About 75-80 mins for a full charge from 10%. The last 5% takes about 15 mins. But more than the actual charging, a lot more time is spent troubleshooting errors. Pretty much every point other than Rajahmundry needed 10-15 mins of error handling. In some cases, charging would stop abruptly and I would have to start afresh, encountering more errors in the process. So between the five FCs, I spent about 7 hours charging and 4 hours troubleshooting.

2. Never experienced that feeling as I had the route mapped out and I knew what I was getting into. Eve during the Vizag-Berhampur stretch, I was monitoring real-time consumption, hence I knew I could make it. having said that, If the FC wouldn't work (like the first Vizag point), that would call for contingency measures like look for an SC, call for roadside assistance. Thankfully I didn't have to resort to these desperate measures.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 23:35   #5
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Hats off to your patience, perseverance and risk appetite for attempting such a long journey in an EV. To me, this is just another proof EVs with such small batteries just don’t cut it for anything more than daily urban use. Then there is Tata Power’s charging network, which totally sucks. So many people complain about this, they just don’t seem to be bothered to fix it.
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Old 4th November 2021, 00:15   #6
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Dont know if this thread is going to help people on the fence for buying an EV or pushing the idea ahead by another 5 years. But 5 stars for your patience, resilience, efforts and simple writing style.

So far I wasnt aware that Tata Power have messed up with their charging facility. It was taken that its just a charger, what can possibly go wrong in that setup?

So glad I purchased a BS4 diesel Ford car just 2 years ago. Can enjoy the diesel car for another 8 years till EV infrastructure matures in India.
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Old 4th November 2021, 05:28   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shreyans_Jain View Post
Then there is Tata Power’s charging network, which totally sucks. So many people complain about this, they just don’t seem to be bothered to fix it.
Thank you Shreyans. This appears to be primarily software-related. Looks like the integration testing between Tata Power and the charging subsystem on the car wasn't done properly or with UX in mind. Error messages are of no use to the user as there's no key to decipher them. The Tata Power call center try to help but they are merely phone operators with no technical expertise. Their only mandate is to convey the errors to the technical team who have their own TAT to respond. Incredibly they seem to have just on real expert in the organization who is well versed with these issues. While it seems they are are intent on fixing it (members of Tata Power have been interacting with users through WhatsApp groups) and the fickle Exicom chargers are apparently being phased out. But overall it comes across as a half-baked system which requires a good dose of luck to work, and that simply shouldn't be the case.

Ironically the Nexon EV is most error prone, while MG and Kona owners reporting fewer issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VWAllstar View Post
Dont know if this thread is going to help people on the fence for buying an EV or pushing the idea ahead by another 5 years. But 5 stars for your patience, resilience, efforts and simple writing style.
Thank you VWAllstar. I realize these are early days for EVs and this post may end up dissuading more people than convincing them to buy an EV. The case for urban use of EVs (which is probably 80-90% of the time for most users) is already proven. It's mostly during capers like these that the cracks really start to show.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VWAllstar View Post
So far I wasn't aware that Tata Power have messed up with their charging facility. It was taken that its just a charger, what can possibly go wrong in that setup?
My thoughts initially too. But turns out high voltage battery charging is far more involved a process compared to using an appliance that just runs on electricity. Whenever a battery is involved - even on our smartphones - there is a BMS or battery management system, the software that monitors parameters like voltage, current, earthing etc. Then you have non-electrical parameters like temperature. Finally, add the requirement to convey charging data to an app for information and cost calculation. I'm sure there are other parameters that I'm unaware of. But the point it, every time you plug in a charger (DC fast charger or even domestic slow charger), there's a handshake between the charger and the car where lots of data is exchanged. If anything is not as it should be, the car won't charge - primarily to protect the battery.

This is true for all EVs, but the difference is in the software. Tesla focused on charging experience while developing the supercharger network with huge emphasis on their charging network and car compatibility software. But alas, that seems to be completely missing in Tata Power's charging network and the guys creating the software behind the Nexon's charging subsystem.

Last edited by Aditya : 6th November 2021 at 19:25. Reason: Back to back posts merged
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Old 4th November 2021, 07:03   #8
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Default re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

For someone like me who don’t get the EV’s, what exactly are the ‘Error’ types?

I somehow thought that it’ll be as simple as charging any other electronic device we use on a day to day basis and from your write up, I see I’m clearly wrong.

Aside, very meticulous of you to have done this. Clearly, a trip that you had planned for every possible worst case scenario.
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Old 4th November 2021, 12:20   #9
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Thank you, I did plan as best as I could, and I knew that if all failed I could prevail upon the inherent kindness of people to let me slow charge from a standard 16A socket. This is probably one of the advantages of the Nexon over more powerful EVs like the MG ZS or Kona which draw a 7.5kw load. The Nexon draws 3.5 Kw which most domestic connections can support.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jkrishnakj View Post
... what exactly are the ‘Error’ types?

I somehow thought that it’ll be as simple as charging any other electronic device we use on a day to day basis ...
If the appliance directly runs on electricity like a TV, Fridge etc. the inbuilt power electronics usually check for voltage and current and let the appliance run. However, charging a battery changes the game. You need a BMS (Battery Management System) which prioritizes battery health. Add to that poor integration between Tata Power chargers and the Nexon's BMS and you have a recipe for trouble. Here are some of the said error messages which give absolutely no clue as to what the user should do to overcome it.

Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV-error_codes_collage.jpeg
Just a few of the many errors encountered
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Old 4th November 2021, 12:37   #10
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

You are one of the pioneers. So glad to read this thread. I contemplated getting an EV for a new vehicle this year, but reading your travelogue (and others), the big focus is on charging and the worry that comes with it - is the reason I went for an IC vehicle. It remains a major stumbling block for a lot of wannabes like me , apart from the added cost.

Very crisp write-up; I do hope the EV department at Tata Motors are reading this and work on the charging network.
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Old 4th November 2021, 14:26   #11
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Firstly, congratulations on the trip. Probably the first to do a Chennai - Bhubhaneswar trip on an EV.
Can you please answer my doubts:
1) How did you manage Vizag to Dion, Behrampur which is more than 270km? Did you SC anywhere in between? Did you drive the entire trip without AC?
2) While FC-ing at Dion and sleeping in the car, was the AC switched on or just the windows rolled down?

Also, next time you do such a trip please feel free to get in touch with Nexon EV owners in AP who can provide SC points. I personally have 2 SCs right on the highway available 24x7 on request. (Location: Visakhapatnam)
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Old 4th November 2021, 16:43   #12
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Thank you and appreciate the offer for SC. Will certainly seek help on the return journey if the Nellore FC isn't up by then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chandu1382 View Post
Can you please answer my doubts:
1) How did you manage Vizag to Dion, Behrampur which is more than 270km? Did you SC anywhere in between? Did you drive the entire trip without AC?
2) While FC-ing at Dion and sleeping in the car, was the AC switched on or just the windows rolled down?
1. Yes, covered 276 kms on 91%. No AC, very cautious drive. Took almost 8 hours.
2. I slept with the AC on as I wasn't in a hurry. Hence it took around 2 hours to charge from 9 to 100%.
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Old 5th November 2021, 10:21   #13
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Dear Kernelmann, Congratulations on taking this uncharted drive. I have read couple of travelogues of EV owners and they all conveyed the message that charging was a piece of cake and they enjoyed the trip without any issue. This is the first unbiased report I am reading where the user (driver!) has written everything AS-IS.
In this drive, I see that you have made many sacrifices like switching off the AC and driving slow to improve the mileage. Not many have such a patience and they may wait for some more time before buying an EV. However messages like this will force the Car and the charging companies to improve charging networks which will only benefit us eventually.
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Old 5th November 2021, 10:50   #14
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

Excellent write up.
Just one comment though, is it really worth spending time and peace of mind trying to find next charger.
Automobile is meant to drive peace of mind and expression of freedom.
In case of petrol / diesel, just fill it drive it for around 400-600 kms; and fill it and move on...this is expression of freedom and enjoy the drive.

Wondering what is the futility of owning EV here.
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Old 5th November 2021, 11:03   #15
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhubaneswar (~1300 km) in two days with the Tata Nexon EV

You are a pioneer my friend! Mere fact that you managed to complete this journey itself is massively encouraging. Every once in awhile we get to read some interesting and one-of-a-kind travelogues on this forum and this thread ranks as the best in my recent memory. It also comes at the right time of crazy fuel prices and climate change summits, etc.

I don't know about the technical specs but this is the best looking EV in our market today. Tata has come a long way - I don't know if it is JLR influence or Tata's own evolution of the designs but I feel proud that I am finally seeing an Indian company dishing out such fabulous looking cars!
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