My preferred application for finding charging points is Plugshare. I do have a number of others I have downloaded and I’m trying out. Electromaps is one people like to use here in Spain. I find it is a little bit slow to populate the map with the chargers and the Newmotion and Chargenet applications are similar in that respect. Lethave a look for the Best EV Charge Map Applications.
Network Specific Apps
Some of the applications are specific to certain networks. Newmotion is very good if you are travelling in France but not so good if you’re in Spain. Nextcharge is another application I like. Plugshare is probably the best as it has a wide the range of charge points. Even so, it’s a good idea sometimes to look at other applications if the place where you are is seemingly scarce of charging points. EV box is another network which has its own application. Electricity providers like Iberdrola have applications showing chargers. IBIL is a small network in Spain with an app and is for chargers on the Repsol forecourts.
Plugshare vs Chargemap
I’ve just been checking out Chargemap which seems quite a useful looking application. It’s not totally up-to-date with the chargers in my local area. At least it seems possible to add charge point as you can with pleasure. It gives it more of a chance of being up-to-date with new charge points. Plugshare lets you do the crowd share of information for charge points too.
RFID cards and App Options
It’s a good idea to have as many or if ID cards and applications to help you find and use the vehicle charge points. This is because of charges which may be out of action for whatever reason. Also there is the possibility that an RFID card you have might not work when you want it to. You need to have a Plan B and a plan C to take into account The various difficulties you might run into when on a longer journey.
How many long trips are you likely to take?
For 95% of the time you won’t need to use any of these applications or RFID cards because you’ll be charging up from home. Looking at the options I have for charging in France 🇫🇷 I feel confident to go on a long journey going north from Catalonia. I don’t feel quite so confident for travelling around Spain 🇪🇸.
Here is a list of all of the Best EV Charge Map Applications I have on my iPhone to find charge points.
That’s quite a few. Mostly I look at Plugshare first. Newmotion if in France. I used IBIL twice in Barcelona before I had the Barcelona Live card and had worked out how to use the AMB app to get free charging. When I do my long trip around the Iberic peninsular the Iberdrola app will get used. Their 200 charge points are still to be installed. Impossible to sign up using their app. Better to do the trip next year when there will be more chargers installed. I’m still looking for more Best EV Charge Map Applications.
Good things in apps
Chargepoints which are in operation now. Rather than coming soon.
Crowdsourced information – better up to date information.
Trip planning. Plugshare and Nextcharge do this well.
Apps which let you activate the charge point.
Apps with information about cost of using the charger.
Apps with information on how to use/activate the charger.
Apps which show the chargers quickly on the map.
Apps letting you reserve or book a charger.
Live information showing state of charger. In use, reserved, broken
Links from the charger info to map apps for directions.
Wasn’t sure if we were going to go on a trip to test EV Charging or not. So we ended up started out a little bit late. We really could’ve got out of the house earlier if we had made a plan. The idea eventually was to go and visit a salt mine in Cardona. The salt mine is in the direction of Lleida in a town called Cardona. I wanted to stop in one of the charges in the outskirts of Barcelona. My wife wanted me to drive instead via Vic and pull in to Manresa to charge up. Because we were late starting we got to Manresa when the dealership was closed and we couldn’t gain access to the chademo charge point. So we spent the time getting something to eat and having a look around the town. It wasn’t a particularly nice place. Old industrial buildings and lots of roadworks. There was a view across the river and the railway tracks which was a little more interesting. There was a big impressive building looking out across the small valley. As you might expect it was a religious building connected to the Catholic Church. The country is full of the iconography of the death cult.
Leaf on Charge – Not Mine…
When we got back to the dealership I was disappointed to find an old style Nissan Leaf parked there. Fortunately, the time it took for me to move the car into place ready to get charging after he had finished they arrived back at the car and moved on. I think we had about 50% of the battery left and it was quick to charge up to 75% before we continued with the journey. The next stage of the journey was only about 40 km to get to the town with the salt mine. The whole journey was on good roads with interesting landscape views all the way. Forests on both sides of the road most of the way.
Salt Mountain Visit – No EV Charging
A minibus which took us down to the mine entrance. We went past the mountain of soil and mining junk which had been removed from the ground over many years. The salt on the ground made it look like it had been snowing. We were told there was a huge seam of salt going about 2 km down into the ground. When they started to dig it up, first they took out the sodium chloride ordinary salt. It was later they found other types of salt. There was manganese salt and also the potassium salt. It was the potassium salt which is more valuable due to the fact it could be used to make explosives. It was a fairly interesting visit with views of the stalagmites and stalactites of salts in the tunnels. It wasn’t as stunning to look at as the caves we visited in France last year. By the time we had finished with the visit it was time to start driving home. Next time we have leave the house earlier and have a fuller day of travelling. There was a castle in the town which we took pictures from a distance, but didn’t have time to go and visit.
Where to charge the car
There was some discussion as to whether we should go back via Manresa and add some charge to the car there. For EV Charging Victoria reckoned it would be better as from then we could drive back home again in one hop. My preference was to drive into the outskirts of Barcelona and use one of the chargers available there. It turned out she was right and it probably would have worked out better. On the other hand, it was more interesting for me because of the way things worked out trying to get plugged in in Sant Cugat de Vallés. I did notice my wife was becoming an expert at looking for charge points and working out the routes. A good navigator for our electric vehicle trips.
Blocked EV Charge points
The first place we stopped was where I charged up before using the AMB charger last week. Disappointed to find there was a BMW i3 already parked there. So we moved on to go to the charger at the other end of the town. It’s only took 10 minutes to get there. As we were driving to the charger I noticed a Nissan Leaf in front of us. I had a premonition this Car was heading to the same place we were going for some EV Charging. Unfortunately I was right! The Nissan Leaf pulled in to the charger I wanted to use. He was planning to be there for 30 minutes. I tried the RFID card I’d been sent from the Ajuntament to make use of the slower Type II charging. I should have been able to use this at the same time as the other EV driver was using the DC charging. I was disappointed to find the card didn’t work. It failed to activate and I didn’t want to wait for 30 minutes to try it again for the DC plug. So back to the other charger and hope that the car parked there was going to move.
EV Charging or Pretending to charge
The BMW i3 was still in position. After looking carefully I could see the BMW was not actually charging. It was plugged in and pretending. I unplugged his car and was planning to try and find a way to get my car in a position where I could plug-in. In the mean time the owner came back and pulled a face because I had unplugged his car. I complained to him about his parking there and not charging. Also complained to him about his taking up two spaces by parking in the middle of the both of them. If he had parked properly in the first place I should have been able to pull in behind him and plugged in to use the chademo charger. Typical of BMW drivers, they think they own the road!
Needed to get Charged
By this time we were down to 20% left in the battery. I really needed to get something into the car. There were other places nearby where I could charge up and I wasn’t too worried. There’s a charger in Barbará de Valles I had considered using instead of going to the one in Sant Cugat. Eventually we were plugged in and could go into the shopping centre to get food and use the facilities. I was pleased to get another one of those tasty sandwiches I had the last time I came to visit. It didn’t seem as nice as the previous week, but it wasn’t too bad. Spent about 30 minutes charging and put in about 19 kWh of electricity into the battery. This was more than enough to get home. When I arrived back home I still had about 35% left in the battery. Enough battery so I didn’t need to charge overnight as I had enough for work the next day. In any case, I plugged in anyway and I left for work the next day with 100% in the battery.
Cost Of EV Charging
In the morning I left with 100% and I arrived back home with about 35%. During the day I charged up for free twice so there was no cost involved. So effectively we used about 2/3 of the battery which means the days driving only cost me about two euro. It wasn’t a perfect day for electric vehicle driving. I didn’t mind in the slightest because it was more interesting. It does however highlight problems you might run into by driving an electric car. We had to wait for the Nissan dealers to open. The only other charging point in the town was at a Kia dealership. It was probably also closed during the siesta period in the town. I’m also unsure as to whether I could have used it seeing as I was driving a Nissan and not a Kia. I can say the cost of driving approximately 360km was dirt cheap. Happy 20a8 Nissan Leaf driver.
Not a bad day out overall for EV Charging
Looking back at the day and how it worked out. I’m sure we should’ve used the route which we took coming home on the way to Cardona salt mines. We would have wasted less time and seen more of Cardona. On the other hand, we did get to experience Manresa even though it wasn’t particularly nice. As we found out on the way back you have to take into account other electric vehicle drivers. Charge points tend to be singular in the various locations. The driver of the Nissan Leaf was friendly. I was disappointed he beat us to the charging point by a matter of seconds. I should have been able to use the AC charging point on the same machine and I’ll have to try it again with the DC the next time I’m in the area. The driver of the BMW i3 was an idiot. When you go to Barcelona do you can expect to find this sort of behaviour. Bad parking, bad EV Charging and parking etiquette. We could do with proper charging hubs with more charge points available to use in a single location. Like you find in Dundee in Scotland.
The last time I did a trip to the Barcelona airport was just after I got my new car, the Nissan Leaf 2018. I wanted to use one of the Barcelona metropolitan area AMB chargers, but I couldn’t work out how to get it started. I didn’t know anything about the Barcelona rapid chargers and how to make them work. I was under the misguided belief I would be able to use the Girona electric vehicle card. At the time I didn’t have the card from Barcelona, but that wouldn’t have worked either. It only works with the other Barcelona rapid chargers. I did have the application on my phone and I had registered with the service. Somehow or other though I still couldn’t make the damn thing work. Finally, I asked for help and advice from the Internet and it turned out to be quite simple. All you have to do is to slide something from the right to the left within the application to activate the charger. I had rang up the number on the side of the charger but these people were of no use whatsoever. The people don’t know anything about the charges or how they work. The people on the other end of the phone have no idea whatsoever about the application and it was a waste of time ringing them. Here is a map for the charging points in Catalonia,
Barcelona Rapid Chargers
In the AMB Barcelona rapid chargers application there are 10 chargers providing free electricity to Barcelona EV drivers. These charges are dotted around the city and within the application you get information about the charging points. The icons for the charging points show whether they are available, reserved, busy or unavailable. I’m just looking at the map now and as luck would have it, the one I was planning to use this morning first of all is unavailable. The other one I had considered is at present busy, but will almost certainly be available by the time I get there. It’s particularly useful one of the charging points is close to the airport. Even though it is possible for me to drive from home to the airport and back again on one single charge (it is a little bit tight) I would rather add 10 or 15 minutes worth of charge. This would mean I wouldn’t have to take it easy on the speed during the motorway driving. I’d like to be able to drive normally and not have to do any hyper mile type of driving. Run into a headwind or maybe even wet weather and the energy usage could increase. Or you could have a detour to contend with and that could add more kilometres to the journey too.
The Barcelona rapid chargers planned for the day.
I did apply for a card for the charger in Sant Cugat de Vallés and it was even sent to me using a courier. The town seemed quite pleasant and wouldn’t mind giving that a try. There is one of the AMB charges there also. Maybe I’ll try one of the other rapid chargers first and try to end up back there. I’m starting the day with a full charge in the battery. I charged up Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf with the Type 2 charger overnight in my garage and we are ready for business. It would be good if I could find something to visit and look at in Barcelona during my trip. Just to make it a little more interesting. There is an amusement park which is outside of the city, out in the direction of Parc Güell. There will be places there I can get something to eat there so that could be a good possibility.
So how did that plan work out in real life?
I stayed off the motorway to begin with. I headed down towards Barcelona rapid chargers on the A roads. The GPS wanted me to get onto the motorways from time to time, but I stayed on the road going through the small seaside towns, or not so small, on the way to Mataró.
Charging by the beach -Or Not
The charge point I was heading for what is right by the beach, seaside. There was a small tunnel going underneath the railway and bringing me to the road by the beach. There were plenty of parking spaces and I soon found the parking space for the electric vehicle charger. I could see immediately the charger looked a little bit dead. I got out of the car and pressed a few buttons and was able to confirm that fairly quickly. I was disappointed to find the charger was in operable and I had to get back in the car to look for the next charger. Fortunately, there is another charger not far away in Mataró.
I only needed to drive inland from the beach for about 20 or 30 minutes to get to the next charger. This was in Carreterra Finlándia. When I got there a large truck was in the parking space. I’ve pulled up behind and there would have been just enough room to use it. I was going to ask the driver to get out of the way. But before I could do so he started reversing back towards me. I had to get in reverse quick in order to get out of the spot before he bumped into my car. Once in position I was able to start at using the charger. This charger was in operation and I could use the Barcelona Ajuntament EV charge card.
All of the instructions on a small LCD screen were in Catalan. You can expect this with the Barcelona rapid chargers. Some do have options to see instructions in other languages. It was easy enough to follow. The charger and the car did the necessary handshake to activate and for the charging to begin. I got back into the car to check at the rate of charge. The car was pulling in 32 kW. The temperature of the battery was in the middle but it perhaps it should have pulled in more than 32. I didn’t really need much of a charge anyway so I wasn’t too bothered. The point of the day was to try out a few chargers. I arrived at this one with 75% battery still available. On account of not driving at the motorway speeds to get to Mataró I had not used much energy. I stayed at the charge point long enough to bring the battery up to 86%. Then it was time to move on to the shopping centre nearby. I needed to make use of the facilities in and have a little look around.
Looking for Vegetarian Options
It was getting towards lunchtime but I didn’t find anything suitable for a vegetarian to eat in this small sized shopping centre. The last time I visited the shopping centre was quite a few years ago and I remember being disappointed then. So after only about half an hour it was time to move on to my next destination.
GPS Magical Mystery Tour
For the next destination I decided to let the GPS guide me. Sometimes it is easy to just miss a turn when there are multiple choices at a roundabout. I’ve pulled off one junction to early from the roundabout and ended up going on a magical mystery tour. Considering I was not in a rush I didn’t mind in the slightest. The GPS was guiding me on roads away from the motorway is because I had set that up in the settings. I ended up on tiny country style road visiting small villages. You would not believe you were so close to the metropolis of the coastal towns of the Costa Brava near Barcelona. It was a pleasant and interesting fun drive. I did get a little bit bored with it eventually. I was glad to get back onto the main AP7 not too far away from the Circuit of Barcelona motor racing track. I had a bit of a distance to drive to get to Sant Cugat de Vallés. Needed to make up some time.
Activates with an app
There is a AMB charger right next to the shopping centre. My plan was to try this charger which I had tried to use before. Last time I was unsuccessful because I didn’t know how to work the application. I had to ask for instructions on Twitter. I found out I needed to do a swipe from right to left on the listing for the ChadeMo charger connector. On my second try the charge activated and we were in business. The charge once again was going in at just over 30 kW. It was time to go and use the facilities again and to find somewhere to eat. Once again the vegetarian eating possibilities were slim. I did manage to find a place selling sandwiches and there was one vegetarian possibility. It turned out this was an excellent choice as it was exceptionally tasty with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. I was a happy vegetarian. When I got back to the car there was a Smart Electric car pulled up to use the AC charger. My 2018 Nissan leaf had company. My car was charged to 98% and was now pulling in only a small amount in terms of kilowatts.
Using the AMB App
Fluid plans for the day
I had wanted to go to another charger in the same town. I had the RFID car dividable to use it. There was no point in trying it out due to the fact I had charged up so much using the AMB charger. I hadn’t planned to stay so long at the previous charging point. So due to a tasty sandwich my options had changed. The only thing for it was to get back on the road and head home.
Easy drive home
After the visit to the Barcelona rapid chargers It was an easy drive home on the motorway all the way. I only stopped once for a short break. I arrived back at the house with 60% of charge in the battery. I left with 100% and both of the chargers we used were free. A rough, in the head calculation of the approximate cost of the electric used, 40% meant that the days driving, about 250 km cost me only €1.20.
Mission rapid chargers Barcelona
Aside from finding one charger out of operation it was a successful mission. I had intended to try out a couple of the charging points to see what options I would have for charging in Barcelona for free when going to collect someone from the airport. I now have a couple of chargers I’ve tried and used successfully. The one at Mataró would be easy to get to with a divert from the Motorway.
There is an AMB rapid charger right next to the airport. Next time I go to the airport I will make sure to use that one. A good day with the Barcelona rapid chargers.
Following a successful trip to the mountains the week before and having worries about whether the car would make it over the top we set out once again. The worries came about due to the lack of destination chargers in the town where we were staying, or any of the towns nearby. The worry was also due to the need to climb 600 m before commencing the downhill section. In the end, the worries were baseless and unnecessary worrying about nothing. They’re just part of the learning process you go through when you’re a new electric vehicle owner. You have niggling little worries because you don’t want to end up stuck someplace with nothing left in the battery. You’re still not sure about how the terrain and other factors such as a headwind might affect your cars range. The good thing about going on these trips is it doesn’t take too long to get past having these concerns. A car with a nominal range of between 240 and 280 km is pretty easy to live with if you do your planning for the rapid charger .
Driving the Nissan Leaf 2018 and loving it
Once you’ve got your Nissan Leaf it soon becomes a case of true love. You want to get out and go places just so you can get in the Leaf and drive. When you have days off from work the only thing you want to do is to go someplace. If there isn’t a town, city or special point of interest on your list of journeys to make you can just pick rapid chargers you want to test out. I did this when I first got the car and I still have a couple of trips where I’ll do the same. I went out one evening to Lloret de Mar just to have a look at the charging point in the town. I was partially successful with the first one I found, it was working and I could have used it. It was just the worker at the petrol station where it was situated was really busy and was struggling with the software to start it. I really didn’t have an absolute need to charge so I let her off the hook. I did go looking for the other free but slow charger down by the seafront. I cruised up and down the maritime passage and I didn’t spot it. I was able to find it later by looking at the map and the photographs in the app. It was kind of hidden by the maelstrom of tourists wandering around and the cars parked. It’s possible it had been iced making it more difficult for me to find on that trip. I’ll get it another day.
Nissan Leaf 2018 trip to the mountain part 2
We went to stay in the same hotel as we stayed in the week before. This was a no-brainer of a decision due to the good price and excellent room. There was also the fact there were still more things to see and visit in the area. The previous week the first stop traveling was at a charger in the north of Olot. It was okay in as much as it worked fine and there was a café nearby. It wasn’t a particularly nice café, so this time we drove past it to go to the other rapid charger in the town. It’s not a huge town and it was only about five or 10 minutes to get to the other charger.
The rapid charger at the south of the city is one I’ve tried before. I’ve been there twice and the first time was successful. Both occasions I was trying to use the Girona electric vehicle card. The first time it worked and the second time it didn’t. I was determined to try it again because it’s a good place to stop as the restaurant next to it is worth a visit. The restaurant even caters for vegetarians and vegans. Top marks from me! I’m a vegetarian and proud of it.
Parking in the right space for the cables
So I pulled up to the charging point in the parking place to the right of the rapid charger. I learned a lesson in there I found out the charging point to the left is better when you’re using the CHAdeMO plug. I was able to plug the lead into the car but I had to route the cable round the back of the charger. The space to the left was available but I couldn’t be bothered to move the car. I got the sequence of charger setup in the right order and we were in business. It’s best to use the card to check authorisation to use machine first. Then to follow the instructions for plugging in and once plugged in pressing the button on screen to start the charge. My wife and I were delighted when the charging started and we could go and get some food.
Before going into the restaurant I jumped back into the car because out of interest I wanted to see what level of charge was going into the car. I was impressed to see it was going in at 42 kW. The car was completely unaffected by the drive from home and the supposed Rapidgate problem. It was a fairly warm day although not blisteringly hot. The number of kilometres from home to the charger was not huge either. We arrived with 60% in the battery approximately. I left the vehicle and charged for about 30 or 40 minutes to put in about 16 or 17% into the battery. This got me back up to nearly full and plenty for the rest of the journey. Also good to take advantage of this public charger in Olot because it was free to charge. The charger at the other end of town is also free. Not only that, only five minutes away from the charger we were using is another one at the Nissan dealership. Also a free rapid charger, so another thumbs up.
The drive from Olot to Vilallonga
The road climbs up the Pyrenees and is a fairly gradual climb. I think the percentage on the road is around about 5%, maybe 6%. I was enjoying the scenery and I kept my foot light on the accelerator pedal. I did make use of the Powermeter for the 2018 Nissan Leaf. As much as possible I tried to keep the powermeter in the eco-zone. To keep to a reasonable speed it was necessary to go past eco occasionally especially seeing as we were going uphill. Due to this economic usage of the energy while driving up the mountain we arrived in Vilallonga de Ter with 75% in the battery. With this trip we had no plan to drive to the top of the mountain to get to the other side. The itinerary for the next day was to go walking for the morning and to get into the car in the afternoon. Not expecting to do an awful lot of driving around the area. Loads of electric in the battery for the trip. No restrictions due the battery and lack of destination chargers.
Visiting the Rock – La Roca
There’s a walk which starts under the trees by the river in Vilallonga and I expected the walk to continue along by the river. It didn’t and after a little while started to climb upwards. I hadn’t realised until then La Roca was up a hill going away from the river. So it was a good bit of exercise and a great way to start the day. The town is really picturesque and is a small warren of paths in between old stone houses. Farmers would have lived there in the past and now it looks like it’s for holidaymakers. It could be possible to continue walking from there towards Camprodon, but we decided to head back the route we came. This would give us time to go and visit another small town to the north on the same road, Setcases.
Small amount of electric energy used to drive to Setcases
The name of the town means seven houses, but there’s a lot more than that there now. There’s a river to the other side of the road and the town is just awash with bars and restaurants. This is to service the needs of the summer tourists in the mountains for walking and hiking. It’s also for those coming down from the mountain ski resort during the wintertime. Despite being spoilt for choice for places to eat we decided to wait until we got to Camprodon. The town was typical of what you’d expect from a Spanish Pyrenees village and well worth a visit. Only used about 5% of the battery to get to Setcases. Leaving there it was downhill back towards our next point of interest.
Camprodon and the sweet smell of bakeries
I found myself wishing I had the smell-a-vision enabled on my camera because all of the sweet smells of the pastry shops. It was difficult to walk past any of them without wanting to go in and buy something. The town has an iconic bridge which is tall and pointy. We walked over bridge to get to the main part of the town where all the shops are. Two rivers enter the town and one flows out and there are plenty of bridges over the rivers. The view from one of the bridges is very reminiscent of the view in Girona and the famous river houses. Surprisingly, there were fewer restaurants in this larger town and it took a while to find one which suited our culinary needs. In the centre of the town you have small old-style narrow roads. In the outskirts it’s more wide roads lined with trees. Pretty town and well worth a visit.
Less driving this week and time to head home
Due to having to start work early the next day we left for home mid-afternoon. The plan was to go back to Olot to fill up again, both the face and the battery of the car. While we were enjoying tasty ice creams the car was taking in electricity at 44 kW. It was going in even faster than with the previous visit on the way to the mountains.
This week there was no worrying about whether we had enough battery range to get to places. On the return trip I could decide whether to put some extra charge into the car in Olot or in Girona. I wanted to use Girona because I would have less to travel home and I would keep more of the free electric to use for later in the week. Ice cream considerations made the decision. In all, I added about 33 kW of energy to the battery for free and so the journey to the mountains and back probably cost in the region of two or three euro. This is one of the excellent advantages of owning an electric vehicle. While the electric vehicle rapid charger infrastructure in Spain is still not the best compared to other countries, at least some of what is there for the moment is free. I’m able to use the free electric vehicle charge card from Girona or Barcelona in much of Catalonia. While it costs more to buy the car it is incredibly cheap to run.
Wondering what the charging infrastructure is like in the rest of the country
I use the PlugShare app as my go to application on my iPhone for finding electric car charging points. This shows there are a fair few charging points around the country, but it doesn’t give the full picture. For example you could easily arrive in town expecting to use a rapid charger and finding you need a specific card. Like in Sant Cugat de Vallés, near Barcelona. This specific card might only be available from the council offices during the opening times. I get the impression that in France the coverage of truly public electric car charging points is better. Even if those charging points are the 22 kW charging posts more suitable for the Renault Zoe. I can’t make full use of these charging points due to the hardware limitation of the car allowing it to only slurp electrons in at about 6 kW. I’d like to see faster AC charging in the next Nissan Leaf. I’d prefer it if it would be possible to retrofit such a charging possibility into the 2018 Nissan Leaf as I have now. It would be a huge improvement especially seeing as those charging posts charge on a per minute basis. It would effectively make the charging up to three times cheaper.
Renault Zoe spotted the other day.
Rapid Charging around Spain in the 2018 Nissan Leaf
I have a vague plan to head south from my home in Catalonia in the direction of the south of the peninsula. I’d like to do in the region of 400 to 500 km per day charging at various points along the journey. I want to visit places I haven’t yet been to in Spain such as Seville, Granada, Santander and Bilbao as well as to drive through Portugal. This is going to be a real test of the charging infrastructure in Spain. To a large extent I expect to be visiting Nissan dealers to use the rapid charger. I’ll hope they are in working order and not like the one at the dealership where I bought my car. I also prefer it if these charges are more publicly available like the one in Olot and not hidden away inside workshops or compounds. For example you can’t use the one in the Nissan dealership in Perpignan when the place is closed; it’s locked away in the compound. I know of three of these rapid chargers in Barcelona which are locked away inside the workshop.
Oh where can you find electric sockets?
The other charging opportunities will be to use the electricity available in campsites and bed-and-breakfast, hostel accommodation. I might even have to resort to asking to plug in at a bar or restaurant while I’m eating. It feels like it’s going to be a bit of an adventure and I’m looking forward to the trip with only a small amount of trepidation. It’s not as if electricity is scarce like it would be if you were travelling around Africa. There are always homes and businesses with plug sockets available. There’s always the possibility of knocking on a door and asking to pay for some time plugged into a normal household plug socket. That would be slow charging and there would probably be a certain amount of education required. People would not necessarily know how much would be the right amount to ask for or to accept. The electric is only going to go in at around about 3 kW per hour so you could need quite some time plugged in to get enough to complete your journey. I’m sure some people would think it would cost an arm and a leg to fill up a electric car battery. They might not even believe me when I tell them it only costs me approximately three euro for a full charge at home. I am making use of a night-time charging rate of 7.3 eurocents per kilowatt-hour. If I charge during the daytime the price is 15.1 eurocents per kilowatt-hour so it’s a good thing I have a timer set up in the car so the charging happens between 11 o’clock at night and 1 o’clock midday. It’s during the afternoon and evening where I’d have to pay more. These hours change slightly during the wintertime so from the end of October I’ll be able to start the charging one hour earlier. Not everyone has a dual tariff like I have.
It’s a rosy rapid charger future for electric vehicles
This is especially the case when you have a car which you have named Rosie. One of the applications I have on my phone now, will send me a message to tell me of a new electric vehicle rapid charger point. They were coming in fairly regularly and I think I may have turned off the notifications for the moment. It leads me to think the situation for electric vehicle charging will continue to improve in Spain as well as in the whole of Europe. We need to have a company like the one I found in France, Reveo or the company in the UK called Ecotricity which are strategically placing chargers. There is no need for range anxiety if you have a reasonable amount of range in your car and sufficient places along routes where you can recharge. It’s still going to be a need for the next couple of years for the infrastructure to build up. Where at the moment it might be a little bit of an adventure to venture too far away from home, is not always going to be that way.
A pioneer of Electric vehicle ownership
I’m aware that at this time we are at the forefront of electric vehicle usage. This is a good thing in one way. There are more free chargers out there now than there will be in the future. You have to love a free rapid charger. The more the situation is normalised the less there will be encouragement from local and national government. I’m prepared to take the rough with the smooth by being a pioneer and front-runner with electric car ownership.
I started the trip with about 95% battery. I normally start with 100% but this time I didn’t leave first thing in the morning. I got back from work and put the car on charge for about half an hour and there was only 95% when it was time to leave. My plan was to drive as far as Olot and get a top up charge. So we headed in the direction of Girona, pleased to see the roads were still clear. Usually late on a Sunday the roads get completely filled with traffic leaving the beaches of the Costa Brava. The Sun was still shining and they hadn’t left the beaches yet. It was smooth sailing all the way to Olot. Onwards for some destination charging.
The rapid charger was easy to find. This was at the north of the city and we haven’t used this one before. I’ve used the other two Chademo chargers in Olot. There is one at the Nissan dealership which is just down the road from the other public charger at the restaurant by the roundabout. I used the Nissan dealership on my previous visit to the town. This was because the charger at the restaurant didn’t activate so I couldn’t use it as before. I’ll try that one again next time and give it a go with the Barcelona Electric Vehicle charging I now have. The last time I was trying with the Girona electric vehicle card. Weird the way it worked one time and then not the next. Such is the way of the world of RFID cards.
The car said No..
Stayed for about 35 minutes and I added around about 15 kWh to the battery. It was on the second try when I got the charger to work. The first time didn’t go well because I got the order of set up incorrect – possibly. The machine activated but the car said no. So I disconnected and started again from the start and the second time around everything went smoothly. The car was charging at about 32 kW which was pretty good. It would’ve been nice if you could have gone in at the maximum 44 to 48 kW. It was long enough for us to get a drink of Coke in the cafe nearby. It was another chance to see a slice of life from the town we were visiting for the charging. The people inside the cafe restaurant were playing cards noisily and a little girl was cutting up a cardboard box to make something or other. Her dad was telling her off and she wasn’t interested. She just ignored him. It was quite funny to watch. A couple of young boys were playing on the fruit machine, wasting their money. There was another restaurant nearby although it was only a kebab place and I didn’t like the look of it. One more cafe in the vicinity but it wasn’t open. I was surprised it was closed but it didn’t really matter in the end. We could just have easily sat in the car, we had snacks and drinks anyway.
Charge Points Improvements Needed
It would be nice to see some of these charging points with some sort of covering. To save us sitting in the Sun while charging the car. It would be even better if these canopies included solar panels. It seems like these charging points would be the perfect place to situate used electric car batteries. They might not be any more use for electric vehicle but perfect for jobs such as this.
On the Road Again
Left the charger in Olot with plenty of battery. We headed towards the mountains. Still very little traffic on the road so the drive was easy. The countryside getting more interesting the further we got away from the Mediterranean Costa Brava. Good to see the landscape getting greener due to different types of trees. I waited until we arrived in Vilallonga de Ter where the hostel was situated before setting the GPS to find the place. It wasn’t easy to find first of all because it was tucked away down a small alleyway. Then the place wasn’t open and the owners were not answering the telephones. Fortunately we only had to wait for about 20 minutes before a little lady turned up to let us in and show us our room. I was a little bit despondent and frustrated during the waiting time. I was thinking the place was completely closed and we would lose our money on the booking. Thought we’d have to go and book somewhere else. I wasn’t happy at the thought of wasting money in that way. When I booked the room I asked if it would be possible to charge the car. When we arrived we could immediately see it wasn’t going to be possible. There was no parking right next to the place and we were parked about half a kilometre away. I don’t think I was going to run a cable that distance. Even so, I still had 73% left in the battery and so was time to work out if I’d have enough to go the next leg of the journey. There were no public chargers in the town. There was one in the next town, allegedly, but when I sent a message to the owner of the charger I didn’t receive a reply. Lucky I didn’t need it for the trip.
Still a bit of a electric vehicle newbie
In the evening I was having discussions with my wife about the trip. To be honest she’s a little bit negative still about electric vehicles and the charging capabilities. Still thinks it’s necessary to have a car with 500 km of battery range. She could be partly right if things don’t improve with the charging network here in Spain. It is still early days for electric cars in some countries. I used to be a little bit worried about travelling across the border into France and finding charge points. Not any more! Now I have the NewMotion card I’m confident I have enough range to get from one charger to another. The only problem is most of the chargers tend to be the one suitable for the Renault Zoe. A Zoe can charge at up to 22 kW AC which is fairly fast charging although not quite to the level of CHAdeMO or CCS. Unfortunately, the Nissan Leaf can only take in about 6 kW from these chargers. This is only as fast as I can charge the car using the level II charger at home. It can still be quite useful for this type of grazing charging in between the CHAdeMO charges.
Don’t Worry Be Happy
So bearing in mind a level of worry regards having enough battery range to reach the top of the mountain and then onwards to the first charging point available on the other side, there was some worrying to be done. It turned out I was worrying about nothing and my plan was going to work out. At one point I had thought about giving up the route across the mountain and going in the other direction completely. If I’d been able to do some destination charging at the hotel my level of confidence would have been higher.
How much range do you need in an electric car?
If you have a large battery it’s extra weight for the car to carry. It’s also extra time needed to charge that battery. The right size of battery is one which gives you enough kilometres to complete your journey without worry. This is going to depend upon the charging infrastructure along the routes to your destinations. To go some places within Spain it would be better to have the Tesla with a larger battery and longer range. Or a better, cheaper possibility would be the Hyundai Kona. One example of this Problem would be the drive from Zaragoza to Madrid. At present there isn’t a charge point at the halfway point between these two cities. It would be necessary to make phone calls to tourist information points in the towns on the route to ask for specific help. You need to find if there is a restaurant, bar or whatever type of public plug socket available in order to get some charge into the car. Maybe it will be possible to pull into a campsite or you’d have to stay overnight in hotel which offered whatever charging facilities.
The scarcity of chargers will be eliminated over time. There is the chicken and the egg situation with the electric cars and charge points. Fortunately more people are buying electric vehicles and someone is bound to see the light and start building a network of electric charge points throughout the country. This has already happened in countries such as France, Germany and the UK. Some cities within Spain are adding public chargers, some to look after the citizens of the city and some for general public use by passing traffic. The public chargers for the citizens of the city tend to need an RFID card you can apply for locally. These are not much use if you arrive in the town in need of a charge and you don’t have the card. Some businesses and companies are working on the basis of providing charge points to encourage electric vehicle drivers to visit. Restaurants and hotels get business from the people waiting while their car charges up. Even supermarkets have added various levels of charge point to encourage people to use their facilities.
Does the 2018 Nissan Leaf have enough range?
I would have to agree my wife at the moment to say that the 2018 Nissan Leaf could do with more range. You could say that 95% to 99% of the journeys made by a Spanish driver a Nissan Leaf would be more than enough. It’s the longer trips and you have to make detailed plans when you start to wonder. It sometimes necessary to have a plan B and maybe even a plan C. I have already run into situations where a charger I wanted to use wasn’t working for me. I had other options when this happened. If worst comes to worse there’s always the option of knocking on someone’s door and asking to plug-in. Failing that you drive as far as you can and then call the flatbed truck of shame to get you to the next charging point. Only needs more range here because the Spanish as a bit slow to roll out the infrastructure.
That all seems a little bit negative, but on the other hand there are many plus points to having an electric vehicle. I’m prepared to be at the forefront of technology and being an early EV adopter. This way I get to see more of the benefits of having an electric car. The running costs are extremely low. Low in terms of cost of energy to propel the car. Low in terms of negligible maintenance required due to the absence of so many moving parts as you’d find in a combustion engine.
It’s impossible for me to have an unbiased view of the merits of my Nissan Leaf. I love the car and its technology and I’m prepared to put up with the range/charging infrastructure conundrum as it is at the present time. It’s without a doubt the best car I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned quite a few, including a few good ones. If money wasn’t a consideration then I’m sure I would just go and buy a Tesla. The use case I have for an electric car doesn’t make a Tesla a good option for me. My finances simply wouldn’t stretch to one of those and I don’t really need one either. I could have stayed with perfectly acceptable ICE car I had for 4 years before the Leaf. Not what I wanted though. Running a non polluting car with fantastic technology is more important to me. I’m loving the trips out to test the capabilities of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The future looks great for Electric vehicles!
Driving down the mountain
The road down the mountain was fairly slow for driving with lots of bends to negotiate. This meant I was able to get lots of battery regeneration. I started off with about 160 km of range and at the bottom of the mountain I had about 240 km. That’s a significant amount of charging using regeneration from the motor to the battery. So we arrived at the Reveo type 2 Mennekes charging point at the back of some shops in Saint Jean Pla de Corts and I used the NewMotion charge to activate the charging point. You’ll see how it’s done in the video. The charge was going in at around 5 kW or 6 kW which is the limit for the on-board charger in the Nissan Leaf. We stayed there for about an hour and the charge cost me €3.09. It was at the right time during the day because it was lunchtime. It was good to time the charging for when we expected to be doing some eating. So what if you spend an hour charging the car. You are doing something else is not like you were standing at the petrol pump holding the filler to put in dinosaur juice for that amount of time. I can’t see why people would complain about the time it takes to charge a car in this situation. At the end of the charging period I had more than enough to get me all the way back home. No range anxiety was felt at any point of time after reaching the top of the mountain. I drove home on the non-motorway roads just because it was more interesting drive and I wasn’t in a hurry. Even with going faster and using the battery less economically by going on a motorway I would still have had enough to get home without worrying.
No stress driving
I didn’t drive as far as with the last trip where I did 500 km in one day. On this trip I drove 300 km split over two days. I arrived back at the house still as fresh as a daisy due to the assistance of the 2018 Nissan Leaf driving technology. Pro Pilot Assist is still useful to use on the national roads especially when used in conjunction with the E.pedal. I love using pro pilot when I’m in slow-moving traffic. Just a quick press on the reset button on the steering wheel to get moving again. I don’t even need to press the button if the stop has been less than three seconds. Not having to mess about switching from the accelerator to the brake pedal also makes for less stress when driving.
Already planning the next trip
This still more to visit and see in the mountains. For the next trip in the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be stopping at the same mountain village. The hotel we stayed at was so good and with a good price it’s worth going to again. Next time will be going to look at some other nearby towns we didn’t see on this trip.
Sometimes I’m quite dumbfounded by the need some have to buy various Nissan Leaf Accessories for the car. When you’ve already spent a pile of money buying a top quality, top of the range and well designed car why spend more money on extra bits and pieces. I can understand if it’s something that’s going to be useful or functional in one way or another, but when it is just to slightly enhance the look, I have to wonder. If it’s a matter of just a couple of dollars or euros, then why not. If it’s to the point of spending a few hundred or thousands of Euros and it doesn’t have any useful function then I am flabbergasted.
What about Wheels?
Buying another set of wheels just because you think they look better than the originals is probably a waste of money. Obviously if you have that amount of money and it’s burning a hole in your pocket then go for it. It’s your money and it’s completely up to you. Maybe having another set of wheels is a good idea if you live somewhere where you need different tyres for safety during the winter. Changing the wheels from 17 inch to 16 inch wheels to give you better fuel economy could be worthwhile. I do kinda wonder why the top of the range models with the Nissan Leaf come with the bigger wheels. You can go further when you are running with the 16 inch.
Just To Make It Pretty
Many of the people in the Facebook group for the 2018 Nissan Leaf owners seem to like the plastic trim you can get to put in between the panels on the inside of the door. It does look kind of nice and it doesn’t cost much and there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of visual pleasure. Then you have those fripperies such as the extra lighting you can put into the footwell of the car. Not sure why you’d want to be able to see your feet as you are driving. It’s at the same level as the twiddly bits you can get to put on to the sills. Some of them are just chrome and some of them light up.
Wrap It Up In Vinyl
Then there’s Nissan Leaf Accessories people buy in order to change the look of the car which varies somewhere in between daft visual adornment and useful. If you live where the weather is terrible and plays havoc with the paintwork, maybe it’s a good idea to pay a lot of money for one of the ceramic coatings. Or you could go for a full wrap using vinyl where you get the protection and a complete change of look with a different colour or a fancy design. With the cost of some of the accessories you have to wonder if maybe some owners are making their car just a bit too precious. It is still mainly a device for going from A to B after all.
Design, form and function
Over the last four years I’ve been driving the car which has a flat space when opening the boot. Now have the Nissan Leaf which has a cavernous space into which you can throw all sorts of junk. My junk get lost in there and it is extremely messy in the boot. So I decided to purchase the genuine Nissan boot organiser which is shaped specifically for the space. It brings the height of the boot to the same as the opening. This could be handy if ever I want to do some camping and sleep in the car. Sling a mattress on top and be totally snug and comfortable in the car. The organiser has two main compartments plus dividers you can put in between, to further segregate the spaces. Now this is at the more useful end of the scale for Nissan Leaf Accessories you can get for the car.
People living in parts of the world where roads are in poor condition and are made worse with wet weather, go for the mud flaps you can put by the wheels. This is to stop some of the spray containing stones and salt splashing the bodywork. This is obviously going to be useful addition to your Nissan Leaf Accessories and well worth having in some environments.
Pretty shark fin – Nissan Leaf Accessories
If the radio works fine with the standard aerial why do you need to change it one which looks like a shark’s fin? The shark fin arial seems to be not very easy to add to the car and therefore costs a fair bit in labour. Unless you want to spend a few hours struggling and doing it yourself. I suppose they could be worthwhile if you regularly put your car through a car wash. The shark fin antenna does work better where those big mechanical brushes are concerned. One reason to make the change which makes sense.
In the page for Nissan Leaf Accessories they call it elegance and what you get is side mouldings, lower boot trim and some exterior mirror trim. It doesn’t do much apart from add a bit of glitter on top of the car. A few extra things to keep clean or polish and the price of it on the Nissan website is nearly €500. For me at that price it is a waste of money. However pretty it looks.
Smoking is stupid because it’s dangerous for the health and with Nissan you can choose to shine a light on it with a illuminated ashtray for your car. Smelly and ridiculous why would you want to pollute your car. But then if your lungs are filthy black sacks then what does it matter if your car is disgusting too.
Charge me up and fast
When you get the car it comes with a granny charging cable. (It doesn’t charge grannies 😉 ). It’s given the granny moniker due to its slowness of operation for charging the vehicle. The cable does get the job done but sometimes doing the job twice as fast is necessary. This makes the addition of a Type 2, level 2 charger in your garage or on your driveway a worthwhile investment. These are important Nissan Leaf Accessories.
There are other possibilities for purchases to enhance the charging experience. I don’t know if it’s possible or desirable to have a converter in case you want to plug into a type I socket. There could be occasions where having a longer cable would be useful. Perhaps if your charging point has been ICE’d you’d still be able to get a charge by parking a little bit further away. Ten metre cables are available.
Long-term useful – Solar panels
If you are able to add solar panels to your house you get the extra benefits of charging your car for free at time of use. If you own an electric car you’re going to have a shorter payback time for the capital cost of the solar panels. What would be really nice would be to have vehicle to grid technology also. Fill up the battery of the car during the daytime with free electric and have the option of using some of that in the evening time. Perhaps combine this with one of the Tesla type home batteries. You can charge these up with free electricity during the day and move the electrons into your car and the house during peak time. This would be a long-term set of accessories for the car and also the house – Well worth thinking about.
Different Folks Different Strokes
Everybody has different needs for their vehicle concerning Nissan Leaf Accessories. Everyone will will have a varying amount of need or desire to keep the car in pristine condition. The amount of personalisation is infinite and dependent on the individual. You could have to carry around certain types of equipment regularly and therefore need specific ways of doing that efficiently. Maybe where you work you have to park underneath trees and the best thing to buy would be an exterior car cover. Protect your car from the poop bombing birds. Maybe you don’t like not having a spare wheel in the car and you can find a way to remedy that problem. There’s plenty of space in the boot anyway although it is extra weight to have to carry around. If you regularly have a dog in the car you’ll need extra equipment and protection for the interior. Whatever suits you and makes your Electric vehicle your perfect vehicle. Whic are your favourite Nissan Leaf Accessories?
I went 500km in one day and rapid charged 3 times and it fitted in perfectly with my personal needs to be fed and watered. Started with 100 percent in the battery and left for Perpignan in France. Charged there for about 20 minutes to get to about 85%. Next destination was Quillan where there is another CHadeMo charger. I also saw there was a Reveo charge point with two Type 2 right next to the CHadeMo. Had a walk around the town while eating ice cream and visiting the river which has a kayak slalom course. Got back to the car to find it up to 99%.
Live for the moment
Onwards back towards Perpignan and I saw a sign for Les Angles in the Pyranees only 48km away. I thought why the hell not… it was a long 48km due to the very windy nature of the road. When we got as far as Formigeres near to Les Angles the rain started. Great to have some cooler temperatures. So a short visit and headed to the route home down the mountain. started that leg with 52% in the battery and arrived in Villefranche de Conflent with 58%. I was hoping it would be more. At least the climb to the top didn’t use too much either. The car got some charge while I had a picnic using the Level 2 charger. I put in about 13% of battery. I didn’t even think about Rapidgate
Next place was the charger in Girona Sud. Added enough to have a buffer to get home. Could have got back without but didn’t want to chance it. Always best to be cautious at that end of the battery range. 15 minutes of Chademo was enough. Basically I think Rapidgate is a bit of a nonsense. It only affects the outliers who use the Nissan Leaf completely differently from the general public.
One of my reasons to be happy about getting a Nissan Leaf for this year and especially during the summertime is to have it as an escape route for my days off. The idea is to jump in the car and go somewhere and enjoy discovering places nearby. As well as giving me a day out I get a chance to test the capabilities and the public charging infrastructure for the car. I have recently taken trips to France and to the Garrotxa region of Catalonia. Last week I was unable to do a trip due to having to leave my Nissan Leaf in the workshop to get the radar sensor fixed. When I went to collect the vehicle three days later I did get a chance to have a drive around Barcelona looking for charging points. It may seem a little bit weird to think along the lines of a good day out being a hunt for a charging point for my Nissan Leaf. It does kill two birds with one stone though and the visit to various towns and cities is enjoyable. I certainly enjoyed the trip to the Gorge de La Fou in France and coming back via Perpignan. The visit to the town of Olot was lovely and also successful for charging my car. I got my Nissan leaf charged in Olot.
A Trip to France – Nissan Leaf Charged Again
This week the plan is to go to France again. Last time I wanted to go to a town to the north-east of Perpignan, but ended up going to somewhere different. Today we will go to the planned destination. I now have more charging options available to me. I particularly want to test charging in Perpignan because it’s the halfway point to a holiday destination for me. I’ll need to pull in and stop when I go to Lake Matamale to make sure I have enough juice to get to the top of the Pyrenees. I now have the RFID card to use the charging point at the shopping centre. I know exactly where to find the charging point in the large car park. There is also the Nissan dealer not far away that which is only available during their working hours. Over time I want to give both of those a try. The visit today is at the coast and there is a lagoon or lake which we can drive around. I’m expecting it to be a pleasant visit as I can see on the map it is a tourist destination. It has campsites and other amenities. There is a tourist information centre where we’ll be able to have the Nissan Leaf charged up. We will go straight there this time and not get detoured into a shopping centre. It can be a bit of a waste of time running around looking at shops. Mind you, it was useful to get some charge into the car and to get some food into our bodies at the same time.
Getting Past Application Confusion
Next time the plan will be to go to Barcelona. I now have the Barcelona charge card for free electric vehicle charging in the city. I’m really keen to give that a try. I also now know how to use an application for activating free public charges by AMB. I had been trying to press buttons within the application and been completely unsuccessful. A kind person on Twitter informed me it was necessary to slide from right to left in order to make the activation happen. I had tried to do a slide gesture but I must have been going in the wrong direction or starting from the wrong point on the screen.
Misinformed and Frustrated
I found my trip to the city of Barcelona slightly frustrating. The first charging point required a charging card specifically for that town. It may also be possible to use the Barcelona chargecard. I’ll have to give that a try sometime. The second charger I tried was the AMB charger which I couldn’t activate. The third charger was by Ajuntament Barcelona which I expected to be able to use my Girona Ajuntament electric vehicle charge card. This was unsuccessful and I have to have a look at the information again on the Girona website. I felt sure it told me I could use in Barcelona as well. I was misinformed. The fourth charger I went to was one I had used before and one when I had to pay for the electrons. I was happy to get some charge into the battery of the car. Rosie the Nissan Leaf charged and ready for action.
Easy Driving Technology
I must have spent about three hours driving around Barcelona and you’d think I would be tired and grumpy. Because of using the one pedal driving available with the 2018 Nissan Leaf I was surprisingly fresh. E-Pedal is fantastic. Driving the car back home on the motorway using the Pro Pilot Assist was easy going. I was still in good condition when I arrived back at the house. Extremely happy the Pro Pilot Assist and the intelligent cruise control had been fixed with the new radar sensor. Also delighted to have my car back after three days of driving a petrol car with gears. It’s so much easier to have a single speed vehicle with easy driving technology. I love my Leaf…
I don’t care about Rapidgate
I also need to do a longer trip of around about 500 km so I can test Rapidgate to see how it affects me. I’m of the opinion it won’t have any impact at all. I’m happy to drive for 200 km and spend 30 to 40 minutes charging back to 80%. Then driving another 160 km and taking however long necessary to charge the battery enough for the last leg of the journey. I’m sure the second break will need to be longer for me to have a proper rest and food. I find it a little difficult to understand why there are people complaining about #rapidgate with the Nissan Leaf 2018. Then again, there are some people who have two drivers for one car and so don’t need the same amount of rest time. They can swap drivers in order to continue the journey. I suppose they will want to spend less time getting their Nissan Leaf charged for the next leg of the journey.
Last week I went to Perpignan which is not too far across the border from here in Spain. On the way there I was able to do some electric car charging at a shopping centre just before crossing the border and they gave me plenty of range. I was able to do a scenic drive to a natural beauty spot called Gorges de la Fou. One of my reasons to go to Perpignan was to try and get some charge into the car. I knew I would have just enough to get me back home again, but I wanted to have extra as a safety net. It’s also good to grab free electrons wherever possible to make the cheap running costs even cheaper. We went to a shopping centre in Perpignan and drove round the car park at couple of times to find the charger. This is where the application What3Words which is able to pinpoint your position anywhere in Earth using three words. It gets you to within 3 m of whatever you’re looking for. ///paradise.factory.dazzling are the three words you need when looking for the charging point in the car park. You can also use an app which takes photo and puts the within the photo. At the shopping centre it was a very large car park and it’s much better to have the charging point pinpointed and therefore making it easy to find.
RFID Cards for Electric Car Charging
I wasn’t able to charge at the shopping centre in Perpignan because I didn’t have the necessary card. I tried to login to the application but that didn’t work either. Having to negotiate a French website to find out what I needed to know while trying to walk around a supermarket with a shopping trolley was destined to be unsuccessful. I had seen website already giving details about how to subscribe in English. I filled in the form and then nothing happened. I later found out it was necessary to pay €24 to order the card. I hadn’t paid any money before and that’s why nothing happened. When I got back home and I was able to use Google Chrome and have the website translated into English I was able to successfully order the card by paying some money. I also send them an email to make sure they had the correct address for the card. This was because the special way to fill in the online form for foreigners to France meant the company wouldn’t have the correct address for sending the card. I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long before the card arrives and I can do some Electric Car Charging in more of Europe.
More RFID cards
I also ordered a card from the Sodetrel which has charging points all across France. I was pleased to order this card for free. It covers a number of Electric Car Charging points on my route to where I take a vacation regularly in October or November in the French Pyrenees. Most if not all of these charging points are the Type 2 cable connection. This will work for my car but it won’t be fast. It’ll be charging at about 6.6 kW per hour which is about the same as the home charger I have in my garage. It’s nowhere near as fast as using a CHAdeMO charger. I’ll have to see if I can get something else to cover more rapid chargers in France. NewMotion seems to have a good network and Plugsurfing has just done a deal with Jaguar Landrover. I have both of those RFID cards and accounts to go with them.
France vs Spain for rapid charging electric vehicles
I’ve been working with the idea of making a trip around the Iberic peninsula. Have been thinking about doing this in October after I finish work for the summer. The plan would be to travel south from Catalonia in the direction of Murcia and Gibraltar. From there I will travel west through Andalucia and going through Sevilla and Granada. Eventually I’d find myself in Portugal and I will travel north until I reached Galicia and the Basque country in northern Spain. From there I’d be heading back east towards Catalonia going through Pamplona, Zaragoza and Lleida. This is all supposed to be a huge test of charging points around Spain. For the fast Electric Car Charging I expect to mostly be using the Nissan dealers around the country. I’d have to stop in some campsites along the way and I’d be getting some overnight charging while sleeping.
International Differences with Charging Networks
The trip around Spain is definitely something I want to do. I don’t think the changing facilities around Spain are terribly good right now though. I know if I want to go to Madrid I would find it difficult even if I went a longer way round. It’s still worth doing the peninsula trip and hopefully feel more confident after I make a few shorter trips. I’ll get better at using the rapid charging connection of my Nissan leaf. It’s not like the English motorways which have the Ecotricity network at nearly all of the motorway service stations. Spain seems to be a little bit slow off the mark for electric vehicles.
How about France and Germany to EV Trip
Maybe I should go to France for the long trip instead. Someone has recently done a trip from Malaga to Paris in a Nissan Leaf. They were successful although I haven’t read all of the details of the story. I’ll have to see if I can find a blog about it because so far all I’ve seen are a set of tweets. With the two networks I’ve signed up for I have a huge number of Electric Car Charging points to work with. Maybe I could find another European trip which would be interesting. For instance, going to southern Germany and back again could be interesting with the travel through France to get there.
Before I could go out on the Catalonia EV Road Trip the first thing I needed to do was to clean the car. I only cleaned it a couple of days ago, giving it a proper wash with the pressure washer. Have to do it again because it rained the day after, typical! That was when I found a small bump that happened on the passenger side by the front wheel. Someone must have caught it someplace where I was parked. Today I only found a strange thing on the front bumper at the bottom part where there seem to be some sort of plastic strand -like from a brush stuck into the paint. I was working quickly with the wash so I haven’t had a proper look at it again.
So once the car was washed and properly ready for a trip. (Rosie has to look her best when I take her out.) I loaded up my two passengers and we set out in the direction of Vic. I had been to Vic before quite some years ago and I remember it having a rather large town square. It also has some sort of Roman building there too. We didn’t make it into the town due to the loose and fluid plans for the day.
A detour off the Vic road
I had seen in my incoming information, either Twitter or Facebook or an email there was a public charger installed in a town called Viladrau. I decided to make a visit to test out the charger. In Plugshare app it was listed as a Type II Mennekes connection. One of the main things I wanted to test today was how well the electric vehicle card from Girona Ajuntament worked in various charge points. Until today I’d only used it briefly at the charger in Olot. The road into this small village was extremely bendy and full of curves to drive around. It was also used by large trucks and there was a point where we had to reverse back over a bridge to let one through. It’s extremely useful having the camera show me what’s behind making reversing quite easy. Fun Catalonia EV Road Trip, but less so with two queasy passengers.
Getting the charger to activate
It took a couple of tries for the RFID card to do its magic with the charging post. I think there must be a set order for connecting. I obviously keep getting it wrong on my first couple of tries on my Catalonia EV Road Trip. So one of the things I learned today was to persevere and not give up on the first, second or even third try. You would kind of wonder why I bothered, but I was there and felt sure it should work, so I kept at it. Eventually the post gave me the electrons through my own T2 cable I got out of the boot to plug the car into the charging post. The screen on the charging post is very small and quite difficult to read. It’s an LCD display and could do with some backlighting to make it readable.
Timer Setting causing a problem
It’s possible that I scuppered the first tried by myself by having the wrong setting in the EV settings of the car. You need to have it switched so the timed charging only applies when at home. I changed this to the correct setting and did some unplugging and plugging back in again for it to work. I didn’t really need to much in the way of charge, but I did want to have a little walk around the town. While I was walking the car was charging and I think I added about 5% to the battery. Not a huge amount, but it was a test and a successful one.
When leaving Viladrau we had to deal with more small country roads. I also managed to make a detour to some roadworks by not paying attention to the notice saying the road was cut. I didn’t really mind, the driving today was supposed to be a voyage of discovery. It was getting towards lunchtime and so we headed to Olot which is where I was using a rapid charger a couple of weeks ago.
Failed to activate with the card
In Olot we went to the electric charging point, a rapid charger which is at a roundabout with a restaurant. The food was better in this version of the restaurant. We had a decent feed for €10 each. When I tried to plug into the rapid charger it kept telling me the card was not recognised. I was not able to use the charger and I was disappointed. This meant I had to go with Plan B. This meant driving two minutes up the road to the Nissan dealership which had a rapid charger in the car park at the front of the building. I was surprised and delighted I was able to easily plug-in and start the charge. I was half expecting it to tell me I needed a code or some other RFID card to activate the charging. Connection was as easy as falling off a log. I walked back down to the restaurant and left the car charging for 45 minutes and it went from about 50% to 98%. This was a good state of play for the rest of the trip. There was one other place in Olot I could have tried. Maybe I would have got lucky at the other public charger. No point in trying to charge it after I’d already taken it up to 98%. Next time in Olot I will try out the other one.
A trip to Figueres
My passengers and I had no particular place we wanted to go to. So I decided to go and test a charger in Figueres. There is a public charger which I should have been able to use the charging card from Girona. A pleasant drive from where we were to the town famous for the museum of Salvador Dali. Using Apple Carplay in the car to guide me to the charge point was easy. The large fly in the ointment was that there were works going on all around the square where the charger was situated. This had affected the rapid charger. There were barriers all around it and tape. It was impossible to park there let alone plug-in and get some charge.
Moving on to the next destination
The next destination for the Catalonia EV Road Trip was Girona to test another charging point. I had enough juice in the battery to get me all the way home. Even so, I want to try out another charger and test the charging card once more. This rapid charger is situated to the south of the city. I’d spotted it a couple of times in the PlugShare application and I’d wanted to give it a try.
BMW i3 gets the spot
As we pulled into the charging point there was a BMW i3 pulled in just in front of us. The female driver was plugging in as we were parking. This was a single charging point and one thing I’ve learned today is that even if someone is using the different type of connection, the CCS as you find with the BMW this will put the CHAdeMO charging out of action. I was able to test the card still by connecting my car to the AC Mennekes. I just checked to see that the electrons were flying into the car and the easiest way to do that is with looking at the flashing blue lights on the dash. It is also possible to see in the Leaf Spy Pro when there is charge going into the car. The maximum I can get in to the 2018 Nissan Leaf is just over 6 kW using this connection. I suspect future Nissan leaf vehicles will have an on-board charger at least as fast as the 22 kW you find on the Renault Zoe. That speed of charging is half as fast as you normally get with the CHAdeMO when you first start, but is still pretty quick. The lady with the BMW i3 was in there for the long haul, which is the maximum of 30 minutes. She had got her phone out and had put the seat back to relax as she chatted with her friends. Time to move on to the next charging point.
Girona shopping centre charging
In the underground parking for the shopping centre I knew there were some chargers. The Type 2 Mennekes plugs hanging from the same sort of charging point as I have in my garage at home. It took me a while to find these chargers. Now I know where they are will be easy to find and use the next time. Not that I like going to the shopping centre because there’s hardly anything there for us boys to look at. There’s more there for the female of the species. Although, I did get a very nice cake and was able to sit and relax for about half an hour or more. I didn’t really time how long I was at the shopping centre for. The main thing is it put about 16% into the battery bringing it back up to 80%.
Stop Start and Pro Pilot Assist
For part of the way home I was able to use the Pro Pilot Assist. This was really useful at a town called Quart. The traffic was slow going, doing the stop and start thing. I was able to sit and relax while the car did most of the work. Occasionally the traffic would stop completely for more than three seconds and my preference is to press the reset button on the steering wheel. It just feels a little safer than tapping the accelerator pedal to get the car moving again. It’s going to be marvellous when I get the radar sensor at the front of the car fixed on the 16th of this month. There’s a lot of people have been affected by this sensor problem. I’m surprised Nissan allowed so many cars out the factory with a faulty radar sensor. I would have expected these parts to have been fully tested when they were being supplied. It’s a little strange way this fault works. It is intermittent, but not right from the beginning of a journey. The Pro Pilot Assist will work perfectly for 40 or 50 km before it starts complaining.
A useful road trip in Catalonia
Apart from enjoying seeing the fantastic countryside here in Catalonia, the road trip was useful to learn more about my car and charging it. I already knew it was a good idea to have a plan B and possibly a plan C. My experience of driving the car today and charging confirmed that. It’s quite possible if I was going to a place without having any planning I could end up getting into difficulties. Finding chargers which are out of service is one thing. There is also the unreliability of the charging card. It really should have worked on the charger in the car park of the restaurant. It did work two weeks ago when we used it. It should have worked perfectly for us today also. Every time I tried it just gave me the same message to say the card was not recognised. Very disappointing!
Overall I enjoyed the drive in terms of being entertained while travelling and being a tourist. I would have enjoyed better if I had to run into problems to deal with regards charging. Mind you, part of it is all about it being a learning experience today. The fact I ran into problems and was able to deal with them was a positive thing overall.
It can only get better for the next Catalonia EV Road Trip
I think there are lots of changes to be made with regards the provisioning of charging points around Spain. At the moment there are still not enough. The town of Vic had only one charging point and it was of the wrong type of connector according to PlugShare. This was one of the reasons why we gave the town a miss. We could have gone there to eat and to charge the car. Towns need to realise they need to provide charging points for electric car drivers if they want to encourage us to visit their town. Olot is a smaller town but has many more charging options.
Crowd sourced Information
One of the excellent things with the PlugShare application is the ability to add charging points to it. I had expected to find the charging points for the shopping centre in the application already. I didn’t see them but I was able to add them myself. I took photos and included information to do with the charging points, such as how to use them. I left a notification in the application on where to find the charging points in the underground parking area. Other electric car drivers will be able to benefit from my additional information in the PlugShare app. I’m looking forward to my next Catalonia EV Road Trip.