Autovolt Magazine

Leafy London – Long Term Update

So, range anxiety is the thing holding you back from buying an electric car, right? It’s one of the most frequent excuses given to not considering an electric car and, I have to say, understandably so. The fear of not being able to reach your destination and the ramifications that brings with it aren’t exactly enticing. I’d love to tell you that running out of range is a wonderous experience that isn’t filled with grief or difficulty… but I can’t. The reason I can’t, is because I have never run out of range in an electric car.

The Leaf 30kWh that I have on long term test currently chirpily displays a 130-mile range when fully charged. How far is that? Well, although the number “130” may not seem like much, it is in fact quite a distance. For my personal driving habits, the train station is a 6 mile return, shops are similar or even closer and other facilities one might want, or need, to visit are all within 10-miles or a 20-mile return journey. That means that to a single charge of the Leaf, I’m able to go back and forth six times on the longest journey that I make on average. The places that are ten miles away are, however, not where I frequent. Instead, most of my journeys are actually within a 10-mile return voyage and so using the same ideals I can do 12 of these journies without ever having to worry about range – and still have a remaining 10-miles. In practice, this means I rarely need to plug-in.

While it is tempting to plug-in as soon as I return home, lately I haven’t been bothered to do so. Firstly, for the above mentioned reasons and secondly because our British weather is so changeable currently that I can’t be bothered to get wet pluggin in or put away a wet cable if it rains in-between plugging and unplugging. Likewise, I’ve been visiting shops and areas that all have charge points. I’m not choosing these places because they have charge points, instead I’m going to them and they happen to have them, though I admit to looking this up in advance.

My point here is this: I’ve travelled a lowly 318.3 miles in the Leaf so far and only plugged in at home twice meaning running the Leaf is saving very much more money than originally anticipated.

OY16XLO Nissan Leaf 30kWh

Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well and good, but what about longer journeys? Well you’re quite right to question this and if travelling a long distance (i.e. further than the Leaf’s range) along a motorway there’s no denying you’ll have to stop and charge en-route and pre-plan to reach your destination and be able to return again.

However, a long journey isn’t necessarily just miles related. For instance, I live in St Albans – famously just 20-miles north of the City of London. That’s not far, but it can take hours to get there by road. Trains are dissapointingly expensive though, so when I was recently asked to attend a meeting in central London (Chelsea Harbour) I decided to take the Leaf for a spin. The benefit being I was in my own comfortable space and not sharing the same air with a commuter with a cold. Congestion charge exempt and head held high, I set off.

Two and a half hours later I arrived late for my meeting but no worse off other than time. I plugged the Leaf into a handy socket in a Sainsbury’s, bought a drink and wandered off. Now in my book any two and a half hour journey is a long one yet I had only covered 25 miles of actual road. I set off with 96% battery charge in the Leaf and arrived with just under 80% remaining. It had used hardly anything at all.

Unlike the stressed out manual car/van drivers that were about me, I was also comfortable and happy in the knowledge that driving was a virtually one pedal experience, the brake, and that I was also one of the fastest things on the road from 0-30mph at least.

It is more convenient not to charge when headed a long way, but perhaps it is worth questioning a little bit more how many miles you actually cover, as you might well travel for hours but not cover much ground. If living near a town or city, I’m betting not and so an electric car might just be the relaxing alternative you need to make that journey not only cheaper, but more pleasant too. Electric cars are of course capable of longer trips and stopping every 100 or so miles really isn’t that much of a hardship, especially when you can charge for free using Ecotricity and other similar free-to-use networks. I for one travelled from London to Paris last year in a Leaf without any issues whatsoever. It took longer than it would have in a petrol or diesel car, but it was no less fun or enjoyable.