Life with an Electric Vehicle (EV)

I’ve been asked to write in more regularly about my experiences with an electric car, and the developments in my local area that are initiatives of my local council, since they declared a climate emergency. I would love to hear your feedback, questions and your own experiences too.

I’m going to start off this week with a few car-themed stories, and will tell you more about our council next week.

You may have read that I drive a Nissan Leaf, which I’ve had just over 2 ½ years. It is leased, which ends in June this year. While I love driving my first electric car, and we all remember our first loves, I am looking forwards to getting one with more range in the summer, and we are waiting for a Kia eNiro to arrive.

One of the downsides of my particular Leaf, is that it has an ‘on board charger’ that will only draw 3.6kwh from a 7kwh charger. The rapid chargers work fine through what is called a Chademo connector, which delivers at a much faster rate. However, many chargers that are found at 'destinations ', such as car parks, supermarkets etc, are the slower 7kwh type, and this means my car will only gain around 10 miles for every hour it charges. Generally I don’t bother using these chargers for that reason, as a visit to Tesco doesn’t take me more than around 20 minutes. But in preparation for getting the Kia, I have decided to use these ones more often, as the Kia will gain around 25-30 miles for each hour of charging, so I’ll probably use them more. So I’ve been finding and trying out a broader range of chargers recently. On a recent visit to Tesco, I decided to multi task, and phoned my mum whilst getting a charge. Calls to mum are never less than an hour, and usually done at home, but I realised I may as well use the time more wisely, and get a free charge whilst doing this. In total, with my shopping time too, I managed to amass 25 free miles that afternoon.

The following day, I took part in the SW EV owners group meet up in Portishead. This is a Facebook group that I joined, and they are a very helpful and supportive bunch. Along with the Leaf owners group, I have learned nearly everything I know about the car from them, as the dealer gave us very little information when we bought it. This seems pretty universal, and not just Nissan. I once met the owner of a brand new Jaguar iPace at a pump, who had picked his car up that day and was travelling to Cornwall. He had been given no information or advice, had no idea about the charging network and was panicking with only 25 miles left in his battery with 150 to drive. On the whole, the EV community is friendly and we all help each other out.

I think the take-home advice here is to find out as much as possible about the car and it’s specific way of working as you can, as the wrong car can make your EV experience miserable or inconvenient. Talk to people who have them, rather than just the dealers or journalists.

The SW group meets monthly and are very happy to talk to anyone with questions. The next meeting is :

Anyway, my Portishead day gave me the chance to take advantage of half price charging that the group had negotiated for the day, and we all enjoyed a very blowy walk along the seafront. There were lots of different cars there, but the overall winner was the MG, and we all watched in amusement as identical cars joined the queue, one after the other.

During the week I had another freebie at Tesco as I visited their cafe to do some work, although I recognise the irony that I’m probably spending the money I save on lattes.

Half way through the week, I go to an evening class, and can plug into a 7kwh charger in the car park there. It’s not a free one, but is convenient, and keeps me going till I can get to a rapid charger at work the next day.

Two short rapid charges carried me nicely through Thursday, each one just 10 minutes and done while I was going to the loo, or going to buy a coffee. The charger at work is very handy, and the main one that I use.

This week the government announced that it would ban the sales of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035, bringing the time scale forwards by 5 years. This will help us achieve the 2050 target more easily, and although people are panicking, we hope to see an improvement in the infrastructure that will reassure them. This seems to be one of the biggest reasons why people are put off getting an EV. As someone who relies on this public network of chargers, I have been able to make it work so far, and it should get easier over time.

I hope that my tales will help to alleviate some concerns and answer some questions that people have.

I am also watching the YouTube series by Maddie Moat, who has teamed up with Fully Charged and is showing her EV journey, from choosing her car, to charging and driving it. Each film is quite short but very informative, and she highlights some very handy websites to help you gather information too.