The joys of driving an electric vehicle
I’ve driven over 8000 km in my Nissan Leaf. I have enjoyed every single one of them. It’s been a voyage of discovery in a good and geeky way. I’ve been learning how to manage travelling long distances with regards to the charging. Lots of fun to be had, planning and driving my Nissan Leaf road trips. Most people, for most of the time, will not have any difficulty with charging an electric vehicle because it will be charged overnight at home. Generally, it’s not that often we tend to do the long trips where we have to use public chargers. In my own case, this will be true except having a new electric vehicle made me want to do more kilometres than I would normally. So far in one third of the year, I’ve driven about three-quarters of the distance I would clock up in one year. So this shows I love driving an electric vehicle and going long distances is no problem at all.
Experimenting and learning how to charge
One of the things I’ve noticed is there are a number of different models and types of electric vehicle chargers. Not only that, there are lots of RFID cards, apps and ways to activate a charger. The other variable is finding the chargers. Finding the position of the chargers with applications such as PlugShare, NextCharge, ElectroMaps, PlugSurfing, ChargeMap, NewMotion as well as others specific to a network.
Usually the chargers don’t have any information about how to activate the charging point. When there is information, often it is quite basic. A bit of head scratching needed to work out what to do. So far the applications for finding charge points don’t include information about how to activate the charger. So I have been taking trips specifically to hunt for charge point to try them out. Or I have modified my journey so I could try out a different charger than I would have used otherwise.
On one of my latest journeys driving an electric vehicle, I went to Tossa de Mar with a plan to plug-in while walking around the town. First of all, the GPS sent me in a wrong direction. I think the address must have been incorrect in the PlugShare app. It wasn’t too difficult to go round a one-way system to get back to the correct route to the charger. I was pleased to see the charging point wasn’t occupied either by an ICE vehicle or another electric car. There was a place on the charge point to scan RFID cards. I tried all of the RFID cards I own and none of them worked. The next step was to use my phone to read the QR code on the charger. This took me to a website where I could register or sign in. When you register you get an email to let you know you’ve been successful. You then have to re-scan the QR code which takes you to a website which allows you to activate the charger. On this occasion that didn’t work. I did see on this website there was a link to download an app. So the next plan was to download the app and to log in using the password already set on the website. When this was done it was easy as pie to activate the charger and start downloading electrons. I’m a person who will persevere with this sort of activity, but I suspect other people would have given up. Other people might not have been in a position to give up, due to being more desperate for electricity for the battery. I can see where it would be extremely annoying having to go through all of the steps or to have to spend time ringing around to find out where the problem was. Depending on the time of the day it might not even have been possible to get help. It’s this sort of difficulty which could lead some people to dismiss the idea of getting an electric car altogether. I just see it as part of the fun.
Other electric car charging fun
A few times lately I’ve tried to find chargers and to use them, finding them already occupied. It might have been a matter of seconds such as when somebody pulled in to the charger just in front of me. It could also have been car was there for some time, who knows for how long. You have to decide how long you’re going to wait and whether you’ll just go hunting for the next available charge point. Yesterday on a trip to Girona I drove past one charge point which had an older style Nissan Leaf charging. I went to the next charger and both of the Type 2 sockets were in use. With these slow chargers, I could expect a fair bit of waiting time for them to become free. I continued driving to the parking place where there is another rapid charger. When I pulled in, it was also being used. That could have been a 10-minute wait or it could have been 40 minutes. I wasn’t worried as I had plenty of juice in the battery and I planned to walk around the town. When I came back later there was a different car plugged in. We still had enough in the battery for driving all the way home, but I wanted to get in some free charging while out. So I headed back towards the first charger spotted earlier. It was available and so I plugged in to take advantage of the free electric vehicle charging. I still had one other option in the town, another rapid charger at a Nissan dealer. The only problem with the Nissan dealer chargers is often they are locked away behind a gate. This means you can only use them during opening hours. Not as good as the game plan you have with Tesla which has built up a proper public network. A public network which is available 24/7 and I believe Nissan should rethink its charger network policy.
It’s early days yet for electric cars in Spain
During the last two weeks, I’ve seen a couple of notices to let us know there are networks installing charge points around the country over the next 18 months. In the meantime, we are going to have to grin and bare it. There are some journeys you just couldn’t make with the Nissan Leaf, due to the combination of the vehicles range and the available infrastructure. For example, I would have to take a circuitous route to get to Madrid from where I live. Or I would have to make phone calls to information centres in towns on the way to ask for help. Maybe they’d be able to recommend a restaurant, a bar or undocumented available plug socket. As I said, it’s all part of the fun of driving an electric vehicle.
Happy to be doing my bit for the climate
One of my reasons for getting an electric car was for environmental concerns. I don’t need to be burning dinosaur juice and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Electric cars are the future and I like to be at the forefront of technology. Of course, that’s true because I am good and geeky.
Electric transport equals easy driving
There are other advantages to owning the Nissan Leaf or other modern electric vehicle. The smoothness and the silence you get while driving an electric car is absolutely marvellous. The fantastic acceleration you have available at whatever speed you’re travelling is just brilliant. yet, I love the more relaxed driving experience I get because I’m happy to drive a little slower overall. It feels good to use use the energy of the battery as efficiently as possible. This is combined with up-to-date technology such as the Pro-Pilot Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control. It means I tend to arrive at my destination less tired than I would have been when driving an old-fashioned car. Due to the size of the battery and the range of the vehicle, I do have to stop more frequently on a long trip. This also means relaxed travelling. I’m happy to have proper rest and recuperation when I stop to charge the car. It isn’t really much longer than I would stop anyway. It’s just that the battery circumstances are such that you have to stop. You’re not tempted to keep on driving an electric vehicle when you should really be taking a break.