The following is a discussion with Aussie electric vehicle (EV) owner Di about their purchase of a MG ZS EV 2022 Essence standard range and experience driving, servicing, charging etc.
EDITOR: I’m publishing a regular series of articles with the views of Australian EV owners about their EV ownership experience.
This will help fill an information gap as the majority of electric car news articles are about new car launches and there’s relatively little published about the longer term Australian ownership experience after you’ve paid for your electric car. Hopefully this shared information helps other Aussies make their own EV purchase decision.
Was your electric car bought or leased?
Please describe your purchasing / lease process experience … Easy, Mediocre, Frustrating..?
I was assisted with my purchase by the Good Car Company, who had a business relationship with MG Motors. I had purchased my first EV, a Nissan Leaf, through the Good Car Company and found their customer service unbeatable.
The purchase from MG was straight forward, although I found that the sales rep knew virtually nothing about EVs. I told him about apps like Plugshare and ABRP.
I wanted to install a towbar (to attach a bike rack) and somehow ordered the wrong one (for the non electric MG ZS) through the MG Motors website.
I maintained that there was an error on their website. Anyhow, once the error was discovered, I was relieved that the company removed the wrong one and installed the correct one without additional charge to me.
What has the regular servicing / dealership experience been like?
Frustrating. I encountered a problem with the 12V battery only 3 months in, and they kept the car in their workshop for way longer than expected.
I was also told that there was only one trained EV technician in the facility.
They replaced the 12V battery under warranty and reinstalled the original software. I was disappointed that they did not provide an update to the software while they had the vehicle in the workshop.
How do you regularly charge your car for day to day usage?
Plug in to specially installed faster EV charger at home (set to use solar power or grid, whatever’s available).
What has your day to day normal charging experience been like?
This has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I charge my car via an EO Basic Hub 7/22 kW) which is set up to enable costs to be assigned to various users, as my residential community has an EV carshare program and I have offered my car as part of the carshare program.
Also I am admin for the operation of the hub, which role includes admission of users and occasional monitoring of usage. Drivers use an EO app to activate each charge session.
A couple of issues have arisen out of use of this EO Hub.
The first was that I regularly found that my own use of the EO app to start a charge session would bog down in inability to sign in, etc, and a series of loops involving unplugging, signing into my account again, clearing the cache on my phone etc etc, and at a couple of times resorting to using the granny charger in frustration.
I got no timely help from EVSE (the provider of the EO Hub) on this. I have recently found a solution though courtesy of Neerav 🙂 which was to encode an RFID code for the EO Hub onto another RFID card which I hold for another charger provider. Now EO connections are instantaneous!
Another problem (which took the whole year to identify and confirm) was that the EO Hub was causing a significant drain on the 12V battery once the HV battery is fully charged and if the car is left plugged in.
This was no doubt the cause of the failure of the first 12V battery. When a similar issue seemed to be happening again about 6 months after the first incident, I attached a 12V battery monitor and the steady drain on the 12V battery is clear to see via the monitor’s app.
I have tried several different charging scenarios and the problem is confirmed (so far) as being confined to this vehicle when attached to this charge hub.
I haven’t had time to drill any further than this, but my current workaround of removing the plug in a timely manner is preventing further problems.
How do you charge your car for longer road trips on the weekend or during holidays? Do you prefer any particular brand of public fast charger during road trips eg Evie, Tesla, Chargefox and why?
Here in Tasmania I much prefer to use the rapid chargers operated by Electric Highway Tasmania.
As a local company committed to making it easier to use EVs they are well connected to the Tassie EV community.
Their communication about their installations and any service issues is good (via AEVA Tas Facebook).
I have had fewer difficulties connecting to their chargers than to those of Evie and another local company Bennetts Petroleum.
EHT use Chargefox as their payment manager. I use RFID cards for all the local providers, to minimise comms issues.
What’s the farthest road trip you’ve done in your EV and what did you learn from this experience that would be useful for others to know?
I have done several trips from Hobart to NorthWest Tasmania.
My main learning has been to avoid going via the Central Highlands, as there is no rapid charger at Great Lake (the top) yet and the impact of the hills on the estimated range triggers severe range anxiety!
I have survived two trips through here by getting full-on regen coming down the other side but the stress level was extreme.
Does your EV have any special features like V2L reverse charging from the car to your portable/home appliances? If yes please share your experience using this special feature
The MG ZS 2022 has V2L functionality.
I bought a V2L adaptor with an Australian socket via eBay as this was much cheaper than the stock version.
I then had to work out how to rewire it as I had inadvertently bought one not suited to the MG ZS. It works fine, but I have not had to use it in the field yet.
If you have roadside assist included with the car purchase/lease and have had to use it, which company provided the service and what was that experience like?
One company was RACT, they were excellent. The other I can’t recall, but they were also fine.
If you have had issues with your car and asked for these to be fixed under warranty, did the car brand do the right thing and fix it without causing you stress?
As above, the 12V battery was replaced but I was certainly stressed out about the time they were taking, their poor communication, and my declining level of confidence that they actually knew what they were doing.
What are the 3 strongest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
Ability to attach bike rack.
Small SUV style is suitable for a range of road conditions.
V2L so that I could charge my e-bike if necessary.
What are the 3 weakest aspects of your electric car compared to other similar price electric cars available in Australia?
A year down the track I think the same price might get a longer range vehicle now.
But I’m not sure about the availability of the other features I’ve listed, which are important to me.
What is your view on car software updates? Some people prefer it be done by dealers, some don’t want updates, others want them regularly over the air?
I want them done OTA. MG say their vehicles are OTA ready but don’t seem to have any intention of actually providing it.
EDITOR: To my knowledge MG HQ never advertised or promised OTA updates for any ZS EV model in Australia. They did hint at it being possible in the future for the MG4 but this hasn’t happened yet.
What questions would ask your car manufacturer HQ if you could?
When will OTA updates become available? EDITOR: for the ZS EV – never.
When will the iSmart app become more stable? EDITOR: Instability or lack of app response in some parts of Australia may be caused by MG Australia EVs using the Vodafone network which has the smallest coverage area in Australia.
Why does the entertainment unit seem to have problems at times connecting to streaming services (when will this be fixed)? EDITOR: if streaming services are being accessed via a phone, sometimes changing USB cables to a more expensive brand can help the connection.
What is your commitment to establishing a strong trained workforce in Australia? EDITOR: this is unfortunately a problem across all electric car brands in Australia that sell via car dealers. EVs are a complicated computer on wheels and usually the people working at car dealers don’t have much tech support type knowledge.
Would you buy or lease this brand of electric car again and recommend it to others?
I haven’t kept up with the latest alternatives.
The new MG4 EV looks good and the MG ZS EV 2025 should be more solid as it is built from the ground up as an EV.
I would look carefully at what is currently available before making a recommendation.
Do you have any other comments about your electric car brand, experience etc?
If I have to drive (I actually prefer to ride my bike whenever possible for everyday transport and for leisure) I am a committed EV driver.
I have sworn never to drive an ICE vehicle again for environmental reasons.
But I have to say being an early adopter is a responsibility.
The Nissan Leaf (grey import) was simple, tried and true. It just worked.
The MG ZS EV feels a bit like we are the guinea pigs while the manufacturer works things out, which I guess might be the same for pretty well all new makes and models at the moment.
If you’re an Australian electric vehicle owner and would like to participate in this interview series by sharing your experience please contact me directly or add a comment below and let me know.