EV Road Trip – It’s A Weird State Of Affairs

Since June I’ve been driving my Nissan Leaf daily. Every single opportunity to go for a drive I’ve taken it. During the summertime, I think there was maybe only one day where Rosie, my 2018 Nissan Leaf had a day off. We were always doing an EV road trip. Now we are in the middle of October and for the last three or four days, I have hardly used the car. I have my vacation from the beginning of October through until March. The first 10 days of that was taken up with driving around my mother who came to visit me here in Catalonia. That meant I did a lot of kilometres going to various places and being a bit of a tourist. At the end of it, I have to admit to being a little bit tired. I was glad to have one or two days of staying at home and relaxing. It still seems a little bit weird though to not be out and about in the car.

EV road trip

Big EV Road Trip

When I first got the car my plan was to take a trip around the idyllic peninsular starting here in Catalonia and heading south. The plan was to do this as soon as I got my vacation time. Getting a visitor for the first 10 days of that put paid to those plans. My wife is not terribly keen on me going off and doing is a trip. I’ve also started to see that it’s got other problems such as who can look after the dog. My wife will be out of work and the dog will be left alone at home for a long period during the daytime. The other problem is due to the cost of such trip. I can imagine such a trip would cost a fair bit because I’ll be travelling for 10 to 14 days. If I’m going to all of these places I want to have enough time to see something and not just pass through only to blink and miss it all. I don’t like the idea of going to places and just putting a tick into the box. ‘Okay, been there done that, didn’t buy the T-shirt, where to next?’. Sometimes you need to have a bit of time to relax and to experience and get a feel for a place. I can imagine that being the case In Sevilla, Granada and Bilbao – one or two other places also. I still want to do the big trip and camp out in my Nissan Leaf. I’m keen to see more of Spain and to visit Portugal. Not sure the finances will stretch that far this winter due to other travels I have planned in November and December.

The Arty Party in St. Feliu de Guíxols

Two days ago I did go to the local town just for a visit to an art gallery. I parked near to the bus station where there is a charger. It is a Type 2 Mennekes charger and I didn’t use it because Rosie was more or less fully charged. It was an excellent exhibition and it was the final day to go to visit. Well worth getting out of the house to see some good art. There was a large room set up as an art installation which also featured the large paintings by the artist. It was something a little bit different and I absolutely enjoyed it. There was a long table with cutlery, candelabras, and plates. A scattering of paint brushes dipped in gold paint here and there. The paintings were on the wall behind that table and the subject matter was linked to what we saw on the tables. The area for the public to walk had objects to step over which flowed out from the table and chairs. We were inside the art installation. The curtains were painted and the ambiance was further enhanced by music which I presume was chosen by the artist. The name of the artist was Peppa Poch.

Peppa Poch Artist

That was just one exhibition and the other was to do with nature and depictions of it in paintings. Saw a few paintings in that exhibition as well which I enjoyed. It was good to get out of the house. Even so, still didn’t do much driving of my Nissan Leaf. Satisfied the artist in me.

Rosie Says Clean Me – I’m A Dirty Girl

Despite not having an EV road trip to gone on Rosie got dirty. So during the time of rest for Rosie the Nissan Leaf I did give her a good cleaning. I have one of those Kärcher pressure washers with an attachment to fit to attach to it which will spray foam soap. Good Nissan Leaf Accessories. I then use some blue Rastafarian type gloves to caress and rub the car and dislodge any of the dirt. I can then use the pressure washer to clean the soap off the car. The next stage is important too. I have small towels which are for drying the car. If you don’t dry the car, you end up with a car with water spots all over it which can look worse than when you started. I have spent some time waxing the front of the car and I plan to work my way around all of the body parts over time. I know some people like to go the whole hog and get one of those ceramic coatings professionally applied. I’m not sure that’s absolutely necessary and in any case, I’m not willing to spend the money.

Nissan Leaf 2018

Then it Rained – Typical…

It’s totally typical that the day after I washed the car and want to go to the art exhibition the weather is poor. So I ended up with a few rain spots although Rosie is still looking pretty good despite the raindrops.

Still Couldn’t Escape The House

Yesterday was going to be a day of a mini EV road trip. I was thinking about going towards Barcelona just for a drive and to check out another couple of charges. Unfortunately, I can get out of the house due to a friend saying she was going to come to visit in the afternoon. She was late and I could have gone out in the morning. I was also waiting on a package and that didn’t come until late afternoon either. So it was a day of being stuck in the house without even a small trip to the shops.

Today I was determined to go for a small drive even though I’ve been at home all morning. My friend from yesterday was looking for help with a writers application called Scrivener which he uses on her iPad. I spent this morning experimenting with various settings to try and sort out the task she had been trying to do. I was successful and I enjoyed a bit of good and geeky time with my computer.

Keeping Up The Pressure – Tyre Pressure

Last I was out driving around Barcelona I had a message came up on the computer of the car telling me the tyre pressure was low on one of the tyres. It had dipped below 2.1 bar. There was no long-term leak it seems and I just reset the tyre pressure monitoring system when I got back home. I also dug into the little cubby hole to the left side of the boot of the car and pulled out of the small electric pump. Using the air pressure gauge I was able to put air into all of the tyres and get them up to 2.5 bar. This is really something I should have checked earlier, even months ago. I had been relying on the tyre pressure monitoring system to give me feedback. It would have been better to monitor it manually earlier.

Pumping Gunk Into The Tyre

The small electric pump is also what you use when you need to deal with a puncture while out on the road. It comes with a bottle of gunk which you screw onto the socket on the pump. The pump will then push the gunk into the tyre and seal any holes so you can drive to the workshop and get the tyre fixed properly. I have heard that by using this stuff it will mess up the tyre pressure monitoring system. It may even be necessary to replace parts.

Gone are the days of always carrying around a spare tyre. All you are supposed to do is to mess around with gunk to get you going again. Either that or you ring up the roadside assistance and get them to do the work for you. When I was looking for the pump in the back of the car, I noticed there wasn’t any sort of jacking device. I thought it would still be necessary to have a jack so you didn’t have to rely on the pump getting the car back level again. It might be necessary to move the wheel so the repair gunk gets to the hole in the tyre. I’m imagining if the hole is at the top and the gunk can’t get to it, it may be the air will go out faster than the pump can put it in. Obviously, in that situation, it’s going to be necessary for the roadside assistance to take you in the car to somewhere you can buy a new tyre. I know some people don’t like the idea of changing a wheel themselves even though it’s not that difficult. It is still much faster to change a wheel and get moving again than to wait for outside help to arrive and do the job for you.

Keep The Weight Down

The idea of not carrying a spare is to reduce the amount of weight the car is carrying. The more weight you carry the more energy your car has to use. Next, when you buy a car you’ll have to stand on some scales and if you’re over a certain weight have to agree to go on a diet. Just Kidding… Or maybe it’s the case that tyres are better than they used to be and punctures are rarer because of it. I kind of doubt that myself, but who knows? Will I be better off carrying a spare tyre on my EV road trip when I get around to doing it?

Rosie at the Beach

Electric Car Charging Barcelona

The trip back from Barcelona ExpoElectric

Charging in Sant Cugat

Electric Car Charging Barcelona – When I go on a trip to Barcelona and I have enough juice to the battery to get me home I still want to put the car on charge. On the way back home last time, I found a charger I hadn’t used before in Badalona not away from the IKEA store. It’s a good idea to search for all the free charging points around Barcelona. I want to know how to find them. I’m not really used to driving round the city, but if I’ve been to a place once I can find it easier the second time around. Using free charging whenever possible is useful as it helps to keep the costs down running an electric car. So far I’ve used rapid charging points at Sants bus station, AMB Sant Cugat de Vallés, Finlándia at Mataró and the one at the Nissan dealership next to La Maquinista. I did also find an IBIL charger where I had to pay, but I was grateful at the time to find something that worked. I like to have peace of mind knowing I have options for charging the car.

electric car charging barcelona

Unsuccessful attempts Electric Car Charging Barcelona

I have also found charging points around the city and not been able to use them. I got to a charger at Diagonal, but was beaten to it by a Renault Zoe. There’s a charger near to the airport I wanted to use but was unable to at the time due to the app having no instructions. I know how to use the AMB app now. There’s another rapid charger in Sant Cugat de Vallés for which I have an RFID card. I’m not sure if it will work for me because once again I was beaten to it by a Nissan Leaf. I didn’t want to wait 30 mins while the other guy charged up. So I went elsewhere.

Mataró charger broken

Then there is another one in Mataró by the beach I wanted to use, but it was out of order. I can try that one again another day with electric car charging Barcelona. The charge points in La Maquinista shopping centre were out of order for my last two visits to the place.

La Maquinista

There are some roads I use more often than others in Barcelona. My idea is to try out as many of these charging points on those routes as I can. I have four or five on a list I plan to try out as soon as possible. The important thing is to test out which RFID cards work or if they will work with an application on my iPhone. Save me some time messing about trying to activate a charger if I am in more of a hurry on another day. Electric car charging Barcelona can be made easy.

How can charging be improved

What would be nice, is if the charge points where we have to pay, worked with a contactless credit card. I can see this will be the way to go in the future. It has to be easier to use all chargers than it is at the moment. For the chargers that are free it would be super just to drive up and plug-in without having to mess around with RFID cards. The Nissan dealerships should make their chargers more accessible. Stop putting them in workshops or behind locked gates. I’m sure they’re keen to sell more electric vehicles and hiding chargers is not the way to do it. To have a network of chargers will ease the minds of new electric vehicle drivers wondering how it will work out charging on longer trips. This premise of a network of chargers has been proved by Tesla.

ExpoElectric Barcelona 2018

Expo Electric Barcelona 2018

Tesla Model S

This was a two-day event in Barcelona at the Arc de Triomf and designed to be a showcase for electric vehicles and green issues. I went to visit the event on Saturday and saw the latest electric cars. I was particularly pleased to see the Jaguar I-Pace in the flesh. I also got to see three Tesla models up close. There was the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X and a Roadster. I got to sit inside the Tesla Model X and I was fairly impressed with it. It’s a big car with lots of seats, although I found the driver seat to be a little small. I had to wonder how large bottomed people would fit in comfortably. It was possible to take a short test drive around an extremely short track at one end of the exhibition. I saw people driving the Kia Nero, Renault Zoe, and the Nissan eNV200. Didn’t take advantage of these test drives myself. It could have been nice to sit inside a moving electric vehicle that I don’t own. I was happy enough to look and to have my own Nissan Leaf to drive home.

 

All Sorts Of Electric Scooters

There were quite a few stalls showing the electric scooters that have become increasingly popular for the last kilometre part of a journey. Larger versions of a child’s toy with an electric motor. These sorts of things are handy to use around a town instead of having to wait for a bus. A number of American cities have experienced rentable electric scooters being littered around which you can just pick up and use. You just need an application to activate them and pay. The companies do this have had problems due to the vehicles being dumped wherever. They have found themselves put under regulation also partly due to insurance claims problems. If you fall off these and break bones or hurt your head because you haven’t been wearing a helmet, who is responsible? The price of these electric scooters varies considerably. I’ve seen them as cheap as €250 and at the Expo Electric Barcelona 2018, there were some you could pay over €3000 for. I did get to try one of these and was a little bit wobbly to start with. Lots of fun to use and I have to admit I wouldn’t mind one.

Not Just About Cars

There were a couple of stands showing motorcycles. The Zero motorcycles looked pretty cool. There was also the Volta motorcycles stall which looked even better. Great looking motorbikes. Many people who have electric motorcycles, as well as a conventional internal combustion engined motorcycle, often end up just using the electric one. The instant torque makes these vehicles quick and fun.

Zero Motorbike

There were the larger scooter motorcycles which are popular for commuters also on show. I use one of these when I work during the summer. The campsite rents one for a few months and I use it instead of using my old German bicycle.

Vectrix

I also spotted a road sweeper which had electric propulsion. There needs to be more of these utility type vehicles around cities. Much better than having dirty diesel-powered vehicles in places where there are lots of people. Didn’t get to see it, but there was also an electric bus shown off during the ExpoElectric event. Other utility vehicles on show were the Renault Kangoo van and the Nissan eNV200. This type of vehicle makes perfect sense for local deliveries in towns and cities.

Beautiful Cars And Ugly Ducklings

This green small electric car was one of the ugliest vehicles on show. There was also a small off-road vehicle, not so much ugly but decidedly utilitarian.

Ugly car

I was impressed with the looks of the Jaguar which looked extremely plush inside. As you would expect from Jaguar. The interiors of the BMW i3 and the Tesla cars were also high quality. Cars in the lower price range such as the Renault Zoe, Kia Niro, and the Kia Soul also had highly comfortable interiors. Cars don’t have to be weird and ugly for them to be green and ecological. Love the interior comfort of my 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Jaguar i Pace

EV Curious People

I’d say the mix of people was mostly EV curious and then fewer people like myself who already have electric vehicles. It is still the majority of people who need to be changing to the more sustainable electric vehicles. I’m sure many have visited this 2018 Expo Electric in Barcelona will have been convinced. They may have already been considering buying an electric vehicle for their next car purchase. After getting the chance to see the latest cars they might be more inclined to take the next step. Perhaps with a longer test drive in order to experience the smoothness and quiet driving experience. Electric cars are the future, but there are excellent vehicles you can buy now.

Hyundai Kona Electric

Electric Car Day-Trip To Cadaques

Rosie Goes to Roses

I managed to remember to plug the car in overnight and left the house with one hundred percent of battery. The plan was to drive to Roses using the scenic route. Using the motorway would not have been much quicker, but would have led to the car using more electricity. The scenic route was much more pleasant to drive and enjoy. Lately when I’m driving and using the GPS I sometimes take the wrong turn. When on a small road trip like this I embrace it and enjoy the magical mystery tour I find myself on. I find it interesting when I end up going through small villages I would have missed otherwise. So on this trip, we ended up going through some rural landscape I would have not seen.

Arriving in Roses

Followed the GPS correctly and went through some small and half pedestrianised streets in Roses. I was sort of expecting to find the electric vehicle charging point on the outskirts of the town. I was wrong it was in the middle of some shopping streets. That’s what happens when you to see one photograph showing one view of the rapid charger. This particular rapid charger was easy to spot as it was right beside the road. Extra easy to spot because it had tape all around it saying it was out of order. There was a sign on the LCD display saying it was out of service. At the time I thought there were no other charging points in the town. So we just went driving towards the beach to find a place to park and have a short walk. Would have gone down by the beach except it was too windy and sand was flying all over the place. So the decision was made to go to the town on the other side of the hill, Cadaqués. Roses is quite pleasant but Cadaqués is more picturesque. I could have checked other applications I have for finding electric vehicle charging points. At that time I just went with using PlugShare.

Rapid Charger Roses

Over the hill to Cadaqués

The drive over the mountain is an extremely twisty and bendy road. It’s extremely popular with the motorcyclists because it’s such fun. Slightly dangerous though when they’re going a little faster than they should do. So while sitting down to eat lunch I did check out other EV applications. I looked into New Motion, Plug Surfing and got lucky with ChargeMap. There are no available charge points within the picturesque Cadaqués, but I did find another one available in Roses. When entering the town I had driven right past it. At the time I was concentrating on seeing which turn I needed to make at the roundabout, looking for that broken charger.

The bay of Cadaques

Crowd source duty in Plugshare

This charge point in Roses needed to be added to the PlugShare app. So after driving back in that direction we went in to try out the charger. It is right in front of the large tourist attraction, Cuitadella and in front of the beach. There are two parking spaces and two Mennekes sockets on a post. Within a couple of minutes I was hooked up and charging having activated the charge using one of my RFID cards. I think it was the one from Girona that did the trick. Rosie was not in great need of charging up at that time so only stayed long enough to prove the charge point worked. During that time I added it to the PlugShare app, leaving a tip and some photos. Crowdsourced information is a wonderful thing!

Roses Type 2 charger

Onwards to Figuerés to test a rapid charger

Not long after getting Rosie, we were on the way back from a trip in France I wanted to charge up in Figuerés. The charger was showing on PlugShare, but still wasn’t fully commissioned. When I got there it was all boarded up and the whole tree-lined square was like a building site. This time, there were still works taking place in the square, but the charge point was in operation. Due to the traffic coming around the corner and the positioning of the 2 electric vehicle parking places it was a little awkward reversing into the spot.

The RFID card which worked with this machine was the one from Barcelona Live. I would have expected the one from Girona to have worked, but it didn’t. Girona is closer, maybe I’ll have to contact the Ajuntament and ask them to add that electric vehicle charging card. I didn’t try any of the other cards I have.

A Shave and a Haircut

Not too many facilities within that specific area of Figuerés. You could use the hairdresser across the road from the charger. In the time it takes to get a short back and sides you could come back to a fully charged car. Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf only needed a few minutes of charge time. Especially seeing as when we first connected it was pulling in 46 kW. This is the highest rate of charge I’ve seen on a rapid charger so far. So stayed there 10 or 15 minutes and then headed back home. I arrived back home with 48% charge left in the battery. The charging while out on the road was free. So I conclude that the cost of driving 216 km of the day trip was about €1.75. Once again I left Rosie plugged in overnight so the next day she would be back to 100% again.

Electric Car Charging Barcelona

 

How to charge your electric car on the road.

In previous posts I’ve suggested it’s a good idea to have a plan A and Plan B and maybe even a plan C. Always give yourself enough wiggle room to get to another charging point. It’s for this reason when you pull into place and have the opportunity of collecting some electrons, it’s a good idea to do so. It could just make the difference between arriving at the charge point later in the day or having to take a trip on the flatbed of shame. Graze charging is taking advantage of every opportunity to plug in the car on the journey.

Having seen pictures of the inauguration in Figuerés of these two charge points I was sure at least one would be working. I still had the option of driving to Girona to add power there. At no time was I in danger of being stranded. Range anxiety didn’t even figure into the plans for the day. All in all a successful trip out in Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Public Charging Points Around Barcelona

I started the day in a completely disorganised way. I didn’t put the car on charge the previous night, so didn’t have a full battery leaving home to go to Barcelona. Not at all worried because I had enough juice in the car to get to the city and there are plenty of charge points. Providing they are working of course and not being used by somebody else. My plan was to go to the Apple Store at La Maquinista and take a chance that there might be a delivery there of the latest Apple iPhone 10 S Max. I decided to take the coastal motorway, an easy drive to the shopping centre. When I arrived I thought the place was a little quiet. It was only when I arrived at the Apple Store and it was closed, I found out it was because of a festival taking place in Barcelona. I also wasn’t able to plug in the car at the public charging points in the underground parking. Out of order!

public charging points La Maquinista

Decided to keep driving towards the Apple Store in the centre of the city at Passeig de Gracia. I checked beforehand on the web, it was open. I set up the GPS for the charging point near to the store. Not a difficult drive, but I didn’t find the charging point. I suspect it was boaded up as were the street vendor stalls due to the festival. During these festivals there are a lot of fireworks thrown around. For a couple of days everything is covered up and protected. I was also on the wrong side of the road to see it or easily pull in and check it out. I kept on driving and when able to, stopped to have a look at the PlugShare app for the next available charge point. The best one in front of me was the charger at Diagonal. Just a few minutes of driving and I was nearly at the public charging point ready for some EV charging.


Renault Zoe – EV Charging

As I was turning the corner to get to the public charging points, I could see them in front of me. I also saw a Renault Zoe. Flamin’ Typical… I thought… Zoe was in front of me and I pulled into the second of the charging points and took the one behind. I wasn’t too pleased to see a notice on my charge point to say it was out of order. The man with the car in front moved the out of order notice to one side and plugged in. The guy had local knowledge – The charger he pulled up to was in perfect working order. He told me the one I was at, had been unavailable for months. Now to decide what to do next. Wait for 30 minutes for the guy to come back and leave so I could take his spot. The other option was to try another charger nearby. I went with the second option which according to GPS was only about 15 minutes away.

Public Charging Points at the bus station in Sants

I had already tried using this EV charging point previously. It hadn’t worked for me because I didn’t have the correct Barcelona EV charging card. This time I had more options available including the Barcelona Live electric vehicle charging card. I knew how to find my way to the car park with the charging point at the bus station. No one charging and the electric vehicle charger was in operation. In fact, there are two charges at this public charging point. We need more charging hubs in Spain so more cars can plug in at the same time.

Estacion de bus Sants

Within a couple of minutes I was plugged in and sucking in the electrons. Well, more to the point Rosie was using the Public Charging Points of Sants. The charge was coming in at 38 kW and at one point hit 40 kW. The level of the battery had gone down to 21% but there were still enough kilometres in the car in case I still needed another option. Not this time! I sat in the car and twiddled with my iPhone and before I knew it had been there for 45 minutes and had the car battery up to 90% charge. The rate of charge had dropped to an insignificant level by then so it was time to move on. I also had been in contact with Greg Oliveau who lives in a small satellite town of Barcelona to the north. Suggested we might meet up for a cup of tea and ended up going to meet him for lunch. On the way found out it was possible to share your present position using WhatsApp. Met Greg at the charging point in his local town.

EV charging at Sants Bus station BCN

Financial decisions affecting public charge points

Cabrils have put in EV charging with a Type II connection and a Shuko connection. The only people who can use it are residents of the town. They don’t seem to have noticed or have seen the argument suggesting it might be useful to allow passing motorists to use the charger. When you stop at charge points you need to wait for some time for the battery to charge up. The driver of the electric car is likely to go for a walk to use bars, restaurants and shops in the area. So why not make the charger universally available as an incentive for people to visit and spend money? The cost of the electricity being used is minimal and there is no need to be tight. Drivers of electric vehicles would be happy enough to pay for the charging anyway. It would be a good idea just to have the electric available at cost.

Chatting to another 2018 Nissan Leaf owner

Greg had had his car just about as long as myself. He bought one of the 2.Zero models, he went for the black one rather than the Jade frost colour. He’s extremely happy with his car although we disagree about the usefulness of Pro Pilot Assist. I think Pro Pilot Assist is marvellous and I use it all the time. You have to understand it’s there to assist and not to completely take over. When I’m using this sort of automatic driving feature I am driving, but just letting it help me. I find it cuts down on the stress of driving and I feel less tired when arriving at my destination. I know if you’re going above a certain speed it will not take the tighter corners. For driving on motorways and for main roads it is excellent. Not as full-featured and as fancy as you’d get with a Tesla, but then nowhere near as expensive either.

Greg Oliveau

Installing a holder and a Lightning Cable for your phone

Greg showed me how he had his iPhone wired into the car. It was much neater than the way I had done mine. He was using a holder attached to the windscreen with a suction cup. The 1.8 m lightning cable was routed under the steering wheel and for the most part, is out of sight. Just a small section visible where it plugs into the USB of the car entertainment system at one end. Then enough available at the other end to plug into the bottom of the phone. I set this up similarly in my car and I’m happy with the way it works now. Especially now I have the iPhone XS Max with the Face ID. It is positioned so the phone can see my face when I am in the driving seat.

I was able to inform Greg about the application Leaf Spy Pro and how I have the ODB2 dongle connected in my car. I use an extension cable and I’m able to tuck the dongle away underneath the dashboard. It’s good to have it out of the way and unseen. He was impressed with how you can get a list of trips you’ve made in the car in a spreadsheet using this setup. It’s necessary to bring the application to the forefront on the iPhone to make sure it is recording each of the trips. There’s a huge amount of information concerning the battery and the electricity used for each journey you make. You could even say there’s too much information.

Uneventful trip home

I did try to use that charging point in Cabrils. I wondered if it would activate using the Barcelona Live chargecard. It didn’t recognise my card and you do need to have the card from the local council. I didn’t need any charge  at public charging points anyway. I was able to head home and arrived back at the house with plenty left in the battery.

Another trip to Barcelona on the following day to actually get the new iPhone and more public charging points.

Best EV Charge Map Applications

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.

Best EV charge apps

 

Charging near Barcelona airport

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.

NewMotion app

Best EV Charge Map Applications NewMotion

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.

Electric Car Charging

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.

  • Plugshare
  • Newmotion
  • Nextcharge
  • Chargemap
  • Electromaps
  • AMB
  • Plugsurfing
  • IBIL
  • OpenChargeMap
  • Chargepoint App
  • Easy Charger
  • KiWhi Pass
  • Chargenet

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.

EV Charging Barcelona – Trip to Salt mines Cardona

Day Trip to the Salt Mines of Cardona

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.

Manresa

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.

Rosie in the Salt mine car park

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

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.

Stats for the day

Barcelona Rapid Chargers – Mini Road Trip

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.

Barcelona Rapid Chargers

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.

Rapid chargers barcelona

Briefly ICE’d

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.

Finlandia Mataró

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.

Barcelona chargers video

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

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.

Red Rosie 2018 Nissan Leaf

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.

Plugshare Charging Points in Barcelona.

Barcelona rapid chargers

Rapid Charger Drama? Nissan Leaf goes to the mountains

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.

DC Charging

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.

On Charge

Rapidgate Vapidgate…

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.

La Roca

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.

Setcases

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.

Camprodon

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.

Renault Zoe

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.

rapid charger in Perpignan

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.

Rosie the Nissan Leaf

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.

Regeneration Charging and Destination Charging

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 an 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.

destination charging

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 card 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 onboard 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 a 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.

destination charger

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.