How do you start an electric car?

My father arrived late last night and so I booked the Co-wheels car club car to collect him from the airport. This is only the second time I’ve used it and I thought it would be straight forward since we had done it before so I booked the car for 9:30pm; Dad’s flight arrived at 10pm.

The car unlocks with a swipe card and this bit was easy. I then tried to unplug the car (it’s an electric car) and I could not do it. I tried and tried to pull the plug out of the socket but it just wouldn’t give. At this point I started to get a bit flustered and so I looked in the glove box for an instruction manual and discovered that this was a different car to the last one. I don’t usually take notice of car models and this car was white like the last one. That’s the main thing, right? However I knew it was a different car because the interior was different. It turns out this one was a Renault Zoe and the last one, I think, was a Kia.

The instruction manual was about the length of War and Peace. I hate reading instruction manuals, even when they’re short and there was no way I was going to read all of this. Eventually I discovered a button beneath the steering wheel (in about the same spot as the fuel cap on petrol cars) with a picture of a plug on it. Pressing this unlocked the plug from the car. I couldn’t remove it from the charger but decided just to leave it there as I was running out of time.

By this stage I was in a bit of panic as I now only had 15 minutes to get to the airport. I put my foot on the brake and pressed the start button. Nothing happened. I turned the touch screen on and it lit up but nothing happened when I pressed the accelerator. I tried lots of other things including pressing random buttons and saying words beginning with “F” over and over again but I couldn’t get the car to move. I tried flipping through War and Peace hoping to find “How to start car” in all-caps and bold text but failed. At this point I was a frantic mess and gave up. Dad caught a taxi to our house instead and I took a few swigs of cointreau.

This experience has made me realise I’m getting old. Once upon a time I would just have been able to figure something like this out without needing to use a manual or ask someone. I was brought up with petrol cars and so perhaps the electric car is not intuitive to me. But I’m not going to let it defeat me. Next time I’ll book it half an hour earlier to give myself time to have a proper look at War and Peace.

I contacted Co-wheels and they’ve refunded the booking which is very nice and they’re going to hold some training sessions. Yay!