I went to Girona principally to buy a new windscreen wiper for my Leaf and also to look at the local prices of the Xiaomi M365 Electric scooters. I was shocked at the price of the wipers at the Nissan dealer. €75 is more than double what I expected to be paying. I went to a motor parts shop and bought the one I needed for €25 which was also expensive, but the two other cheaper brands in the shop didn’t have the right size. Still, can’t go wrong with a Bosch product. After getting the wiper sorted I went to the shopping centre saw the Same electric scooter priced at between €370 and €399. I have seen it cheaper on Amazon And that’s probably where I will end up getting it. The idea behind the scooter is the last kilometre travel. I want to park the car in the free car parking in a city and use the scooter for the last part of the journey. These scooters are incredibly popular in Barcelona. Great to leave in the boot of the car for that extra bit of e-mobility.
Spotted a Tesla Model 3
I went to the Electric car charging Area of the shopping centre and plugged in. I still expect the Tesla Model 3 to be as rare as rocking horse droppings as they are so new. So I was surprised to see one in Girona parked up. A Dutch owner on his travels in Europe. I had a walk around the car an took pictures and notice the screen inform me the Sentry Mode was activated. No guns or grenades were deployed but the owner must be happy to know his car is safe. I wasn’t in the shopping centre for long and didn’t add too much electric power to the battery of my Leaf. Nice to get free charging. A bit of a pain to have to go to the information desk and tell my life story to get the to turn on the charger. It’s much better when you can just plug in without all that palaver.
New Rapids near Home
I saw on Plugshare app there is a new rapid charger in Sagaro at my favourite beach. I thought I would take a trip to check it out. Well it was certainly there, but not yet switched on. The ground had been painted and it all looked great but not yet ready for use. Next I went to the charger place near the Harbour end of the beach at St. Feliu de Guixols. Same story, looking pretty but not yet ready to go. Both had signs saying ‘No Funciona – Out of Order’ They were supposed to be ready for the end of August but is taking a bit longer to set up. The St. Pol beach charger was already in Plugshare and I added the one in St. Feliu. I named it after the bar it is next to – Corsairi, which means Pirate. The bar is built into caves cut into the rock.
One more job on the way home
Had to buy the dog some food so went to the shopping area at the top of the town. I would have plugged in to the Type 2 charger there but both were in use. One was a red Audi which is a PHEV and is always plugged in at that charger. The other was a Renault Zoe. It had been there for over 4 hours and pulled in about 20kWh. The other car was only there for an hour and had sucked in only a small amount of charge. I didn’t need to fill up the battery but it is always a shame to miss out on some free charging. I did also see another Nissan Leaf at the bus station charger as I drove past. I think we will need more chargers around the town soon. Rapids are OK but more of the Type 2 connections should be installed. I must put in a word in my local town and see if they will add a charger or two.
I’ve had my Nissan Leaf for over a year now and still love the car. I’ve driven over 23,000 km in that time and I still like going out on a trip to enjoy the driving experience. Over time you become used to living with and driving an electric vehicle. It becomes the new normal. When I’m at work during the summertime I plug the car in every couple of days as I only drive 22 km daily to work and back. I plug the car in overnight on Sunday so I have a full battery on Mondays when I have my day off. Occasionally I go on a trip which involves staying overnight someplace on a Sunday night. So I have to make sure I get a full battery on a Sunday. I did forget to plug the car in one Saturday night and I had to charge the car in at work to get it back up to 100% ready for the trip. There is a legal requirement in Spain for workplaces to provide electric car charging facilities. My work hasn’t done that specifically, they did give me permission to plug in on that day. It’s not usually worth me bothering to park inside the camping site where I work to take advantage of the electric there. It is all so easy and it’s great to not need to visit petrol stations.
Longer trips with Rosie the Nissan Leaf
The last trip I made with Rosie was to Les Angles which is on the other side of the border in France. It didn’t go perfectly because I didn’t charge for long enough on either the rapid charger about a third of the way on the journey or at the two thirds point on a Type 2. I had to find another charger close to my destination to top up. I perhaps could have got away with not doing that, but it would have been extremely close. I will be making the same journey in October and I have a different plan in mind. I will try to charge up at the midway point instead. I will go to either the Nissan dealer in Perpignan or to a nearby shopping centre where there is a rapid charger. I’ve tried to use the rapid charger of the shopping centre before, but didn’t have any RFID cards which worked with it. I now have more of these cards available and one which I know is specific to that charger. I might give myself a day trip to Perpignan just to test out which of the RFID cards will work. It would be better if I can charge at the Nissan dealership in the town because it will be free. I might just use the other one where I have to pay just to know I have a second option. Annoyingly the Nissan charger is not available outside of opening hours. Too many are like that due to a poor relationship between Nissan and the dealers. That’s why Tesla not having dealers is such a big deal. No middle man to mess things up for the end user.
There’s got to be a better way than RFID cards
The KiWhi charging network with the RFID card which has the charger at the shopping centre in Perpignan is annoying. I have to access the website to add funds to the card. I need to do this using chrome so the site can be translated from French to English. The signup for the card in the first place is quite difficult and requires a special process for non-French residents. It’s a pain having to pay for the card and for it to come without any funds on it ready to use. I think it cost €24 to get in the first place. I’ve just put a deposit of €20 onto the card and I’m going to be disappointed if I have any problems with using it at the shopping centre. I will also see what other cards I have might work with it too. The NewMotion Card has always been useful and it has saved my bacon a couple of times.
I would like to see a European Union initiative where all charging points allow payment by credit card. We should be able to use a contactless credit card or with Apple Pay on every charger. It is still early days for electric vehicles on the roads. I’m sure it’s going to get better and easier over time.
Is 40 kWh enough?
As things stand at the moment, for longer trips it would be better to have a larger battery. The guess-o-meter on the car will tell me I’ve got 260 km available. It is always overoptimistic and it doesn’t have a clue when it comes to driving up mountains. There are websites available where you can plan a journey and it takes into account the terrain.
One such website is A Better Route Planner. It is a fantastic resource and works with various electric cars. There are lots of changes you can make to the settings. How much battery percentage you expect to start your journey with and have low you want it to go before charging. You can give it a maximum percentage of charge to receive from a rapid charger. When you tell it to plan the route you get plenty of information. It tells you how much battery you should have left when you arrive at a charger. A Better Route Planner informs you how long it will take to get to the battery percentage you’ve set in the settings. It will then tell you how much you should have left in the battery when you get to your final destination. I’m going to use this electric vehicle route planner more often.
Dreaming about a Tesla
I received an email from Tesla telling me about cars they had in stock and available. I couldn’t help but dream. I started wondering how much I would get selling my Nissan Leaf to put towards a Tesla Model 3. It’s only after adding everything up and seeing how much extra I would need to cough up that the dream falls flat. The car I have is perfect for 99% of my driving. The amount of money extra I would need to pay is completely unreasonable. There are advantages to having a Tesla with a longer range than my Nissan Leaf. The cost of those advantages are just not viable for me. It makes the desire for a Tesla a want, rather than a need. I even wondered about the possibility of trading in the Nissan Leaf for a 62 kWh Nissan Leaf. It will also be more money and not far off what it would cost to get the Tesla Model 3. I’d rather spend the money on the Tesla. The main reason for getting a Tesla would be the access to the supercharger network. Driving long distances would be like a walk in the park. I wouldn’t hesitate driving from here in Catalonia to Norway if I had a Tesla. With the Leaf I think driving all through France would be no problem. Going into the rest of Spain seems a little more daunting. Would probably need more RFID cards and apps
It’s a while since I’ve been out on a longer day trip. Rosie has been doing the daily chores of getting me to work and back. I only have an 11 km drive to work and 11 km to drive back. Not much else apart from that, just a couple of trips 40 km away to attend choir rehearsals. It’s not a particularly fun drive. I just get on to the dual carriageway, put on the Pro-Pilot Assist and keep an eye on the speed limits. I do like to occasionally use the ‘happy pedal’ to get me out of trouble. This usually happens when a car is pulling into the main road from a smaller road and isn’t really looking. A quick blip of the throttle to get me out of the way and I’m happy! My wife will tell me off if she is not expecting it and she gets shoved back into the seat by the acceleration. But it’s worth it!
Girona Shopping Centre
Yesterday I took a trip to the local shopping centre in Girona. It was good place to go to buy a birthday present. In the car parking underneath there are four charging points for electric cars. It’s a strange system where you have to go to the information centre on the first floor above the car park. They ask for your car vehicle registration number, telephone number and which charger you are plugged into. They have somebody switch it on. I really don’t know why they can’t just leave them switched on so you can just plug in and use them. Probably because it’s a new thing and they feel it’s necessary to control the use of it. This time there was no one at the information desk and I had to find the telephone number for the shopping centre and make a call. At least he just switched it on and I didn’t have to give my whole life story to get the job done. The charging points in the Girona shopping centre do actually work. Not like the charging points in the La Jonquera shopping centre next to the French border which don’t work. Very annoying!
Slow Going For The Change To Electric Cars In Spain
While I was driving the other day I was considering the fact that there are very few electric cars on the road still, here in Spain. I would like to see more evidence of progress towards electric mobility. I have spotted a couple of Teslas recently. As I was driving into work there was one part in the road. I later spotted the driver driving it too fast around the roundabout in front of where I work. He was making the tyres squeal and obviously having a lot of fun.
While I was plugged into the charger in the shopping centre there were no other cars plugged in. As I was leaving a Renault Zoe did take the charge points next to me. It was a bit of a novelty to see another electric car. It’s nice to know I’m not the only electric car driver in the village.
Destination Charging While Shopping
There is an Aldi supermarket on my way back from choir practice which has a plug socket in the car park. It is unfortunately, not marked in any way. Unsurprisingly, it is always ICED and unavailable. When I pulled in there was a car taking up the space and when I left the car park there was a motorbike in there. I wasn’t too bothered as it was a quick visit to the supermarket and the charger is only a Shuko plug socket. Not really worth taking advantage of the plug-in point unless you were going to be there for an hour or two. Not worth the bother of opening up the boot to get the cable out. it is kinda disappointing really. Over in the UK I know there are quite a lot of the supermarkets with type II charging points for customers use. There are even some that have rapid chargers available. I do know of a couple of supermarkets not too far away with type 2 sockets. They are just another bit too far away to use for the weekly shop. I would have to make a special trip to get to one of these.
I arrived here on time at 9 o’clock and it’s taken a half an hour to get all the paperwork sorted to get the car into the garage. It was fairly simple and the man was helpful and tried to speak a little bit of English with me. He didn’t really need to as my Spanish is up to the task. There was a huge amount of paperwork and signing of things to be done. Things were printed out and also stuff was sent to my email address to sign and seal the deal. So between an hour and one hour 20 minutes to get the job done. There is a waiting area with a couple of vending machines and the seats could be more comfortable.
This is a much better dealership than the place where I bought the car. The other place wanted me to check the car in for the whole day. Waiting for about eight hours to get my car back. So I’m pretty pleased to get the job done here. At the Nissan Terrassa dealership they told me I would have to get any servicing done at their workshop, that was the deal with the car. That was a lie because the five services I’m allowed to have because I paid for them is through Nissan. Only thing I need to pay for today is to get the tyres changed from front to back and back to front.
Getting the BMS Update – Or Not
It took a little while to set it up, but he was able to find the information about the update to the BMS software. I’m looking forward to taking a long trip and seeing how this works out with the second and third rapid charges while out on the road. I should get a faster charge of about 30 kW when before it would be only 20kW. At the end of it, they told me it was not available here in Spain. He said he would call Nissan and try to push it. If he will call, or if he will have any success is another thing. To be honest, I am not that bothered. When I do long trips I need a decent length of a break the further I drive. If it needs a second or third rapid charge I also need more time to recuperate from the driving. It is safer in the big picture of travelling. Better to arrive in the final destination in one piece than not arrive at all. Accidents happen to tired drivers.
Bad Choices of the Past
I wish I had bought the car here in Girona. The office for the workshop is much nicer. They seem to know what they’re doing. Last time I went to Terrassa they didn’t seem to know anything about the electric car thing. I definitely made a mistake with my purchase last year. It would have been far better to buy somewhere local even if it cost a bit more. The guy booking the car in today was much friendlier and customer oriented. In the end having a good person to person experience is worth a lot too.
The Broken Fog Light
They called me into the workshop couple of times to have a look at a problem with the fog light. One of the fog lights was broken. He told me it was just hanging around loose in the space behind the light. Maybe not even connected. They seemed to think at first it was due to the transport of the car before I bought the car. After another 10 or 15 minutes and a closer look he decided it was a bump the car had, had. It was when I only had owned the car for a couple of weeks and someone must have bumped it in a carpark. They suggested using insurance to get the whole thing fixed. The bodywork problem is hardly noticeable and doing that would increase the cost of the insurance for next time. I didn’t want to do that, so I told him to fix the light with glue and to leave the bodywork alone.
Tyres and Wheel Rotation
I’m also getting the wheels changed around. Moving the ones on the front to the rear and rears to the front. That is to even the wear between the two sets of wheels. The driven wheels at the front will take more punishment than the rears. We have 20,000km on the car so far. I probably won’t drive so far in the second year of ownership. Maybe the novelty has worn off now and I will relax more into electric car ownership.
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One of the great things with a connected electric car is the ability to remotely turn on the heating or AC. There’s also the timer in the car to set it up. Where I live is a fairly warm climate, at least, it is warm for most of the year. So it’s not needed to get the car warmed to de-ice it before leaving home. I feel sorry for the poor souls who have to scrape the ice of the car in the morning before they can set off for work. I’m lucky to have a garage to put the car into and I’ve no need to leave it outside much. So I had the car for at least nine months before trying the feature to set the car temperature and have it just perfect for driving when I leave wherever.
In the Nissan Leaf there are two timers which can be set independently. The second is redundant for me and my car for the moment. Only need to set it on the mornings I leave at 5 am. I have to admit it really is nice to get into a pre-heated car. Tell the car what time you expect to leave and the timer does the rest. For me, it is the height of comfort and luxury to get into a cosy car. All that is left to do, is to turn on the seat heater and maybe the steering wheel heat and I am totally toasty.
I’ll also give this feature a try in the summer when the temperatures can hit 30 – 35 degrees Celsius. If I have to leave the car outside in the sun I’ll either use the app to send a command about 15 minutes before I leave to turn on the air conditioning. This could be really useful if the car is at a charger without shade. I’ll be really glad of the coolness of the car when I get in to begin my journey. When I’m at the beach I could set the AC to start when I am collecting my stuff together and leaving. By the time I get back to the car, it will be just the right temperature in the cabin.
If the car is connected to a charger while this preheating or cooling is happening, it will take the energy from the external power source. It isn’t going mean we will have less range for our drive. If the car isn’t connected it can use the power from the battery. There is a setting to allow this or not, as you prefer. After organising the car to be heated ready for me at 5:40 am on my early day of work each week I noticed there was an extra light illuminated on the switch panel for the heating in the car. It just lets you know you have your car heating automation set in the car computer. When you find you don’t need it anymore, you’ll know to go back and change the settings.
Just one more thing I love about my 2018 Nissan Leaf. The only thing to wish for is the slowness of the remote connection through the app to improve. It really takes a long time for the app to make the connection to the car. This is if you want to use the app to look at the stats or whatever, as well as settings for the heating/AC.
Or is the driver stupid for following the GPS? It was the day of the road trip to France I wanted to go visit a modern art museum in the small town of Cerét in France. The trip was unsuccessful with the museum closed until April. I thought I was onto a winner going on a Wednesday because it is normally closed on a Monday. Guess what, from April my day off will be on a Monday. I can try again in October. As I was making my way to the charging point in Cerét I was following the GPS. It suggested I should take a turn which in terms of compass direction was correct.
Breathe in Rosie
I was only a short way into this narrow street rat run when I started wondering about my sanity. I got into one situation where I couldn’t go forwards and reversing all the way out was going to be a little difficult. So I reversed back part of the way and there was another street going forwards. I took that despite it looking rather narrow. We made it through without scratching any bodywork including the door mirrors. “Ha, ha, success I’m brilliant.” I thought to myself. I hadn’t got much further when I arrived in a small town square. It didn’t look like there was any way out. I did the sensible thing and asked a local if it was possible to exit on the other side of the square. He told me no and you’ll have to go back the way you just came in. “Oh shit! It’s gonna be hard to turn the car around and I hope nothing is coming through the road while I’m trying to get out.”
After the event it’s quite easy to think, “Well that was fun”, but during the event I have to say I was kind of crapping myself. It’s certainly taught me a lesson with regards being reliant upon the GPS. It wasn’t as bad as the guy who drove down a country lane and nearly drove off the end of a cliff. There was a definite possibility I could have badly scratched the car. I did start to wonder if I would need to have a can opener in order to extricate myself and Rosie.
The car charging experiment
My main task for the day was to find one of the newer Révéo chargers to see what power output I would get from it. My previous experience with the charger in Cerét was a disappointing 3.3 kW. My plan was to try a charging point not too far away where I knew it was one of the newer versions. I had used it before, but I hadn’t taken any notice of how much charge was going into the car. At the time it was just important Rosie was plugged in and getting some charge while I was away getting some food. So after my disastrous visit to Cerét I headed towards Saint-Jean-Pla-de-Corts . I did have to squeeze Rosie in between a tree and a parked lorry. Apart from that though, no problem. Pulled in and plugged in. I was delighted to see the car was charging at 6 kW which is a reasonable charging speed for a destination type charger. When you’re in a place for an hour or two you can get a reasonable number of kilometres back into the battery. I’d have liked to stay there for the full hour, but I was running short of time. I did add 6% into the battery while I had my little picnic.
Broken shopping centre charger
I needed to stop for a comfort break at the shopping centre at La Jonquera. It was a good opportunity to test the chargers in the underground parking space. The last time I was there they didn’t work. I can confirm there is still a problem with these chargers. Same as before, I thought at first it was working. The lights on the charger stubbornly refused to change from green to blue. I left with the same amount of battery energy in the car as I had when we pulled in to the parking space. I’ll have to find some way of letting the shopping centre know that their chargers are non-functioning.
Fossil car fallback
I needed to get back to home for a certain time. It was necessary to pick up my wife and go to choir practice. I am enjoying singing with the Costa Brava Rock Choir. It’s a bit of fun and you can’t help but have a happy smile on your face when you’ve finished. There was enough juice to get back to the house. It did turn out a little bit tight with me arriving back at home with 3% battery. The car was talking to me giving me warnings about low battery. Rosie was begging me to go and find a charging point. She was just a little bit thirsty! I still had 44 km to get to the choir practice and Rosie wasn’t going to do it. It would have been good if we had a second electric car to fall back on. That is not the case and so we had to use the Renault Kangoo which is what my wife drives, for the trip. At least I got to be chauffeured following my 240 km trip for the day. If I had just another 15 minutes to spare I would have pulled into a rapid charger on the way back. I did drive past five rapid chargers I could have used. If I hadn’t wasted time going up those tiny rat run streets in Cerét trying to find the parking place for the art museum, I’d have been okay. Had a fun day out driving Rosie in France and learned a few things along the way.
My own specific future for electric cars will be my Nissan Leaf. This is because I went with the option of buying the car outright and I didn’t want to go down the route of leasing. Many people are predicting we won’t own cars in the future, but we’ll have some sort of subscription which will allow us to use a car whenever we need one. My circumstances with where I live and the amount of driving I do I prefer to own my own car. Due to my age and the state of play of my working life I thought it would be better to have a car I don’t have to pay anything for on a monthly basis for however long it would be necessary. Someone living in a city with multiple choices for public transport would have much different priorities. If you can get full use out of public transport then, that’s fantastic. A bicycle is all some people need to do the daily travel to work and back. Or one of those little electric scooters or an electric unicycle. For me though, I like the idea that the car I have now will last me a good long time. What about the future of electric cars in general?
We don’t all live in Norway
If you do live in Norway you might be of the opinion the epoque of electric vehicles was already with us. About 40% of new cars in Norway are fully electric. The Norwegian government have created the conditions where it’s easy to justify buying an electric car. The charging infrastructure has been put in place. There are monetary incentives to help people make the right choice. Ironically the Norwegians have been able to do this on the back of the wealth coming into the country from the oil industry. They have seen the writing on the wall though and are looking towards a long-term future. They are divesting some of their investments in the oil industry. No government investment is going towards the further exploration for oil deposits. The future is for renewable energy and vehicles able to use renewables. Norway is a shiny example of the transition to e-mobility in Europe and the world. What about elsewhere?
Spain Lagging Behind
In comparison to Norway there’s a huge contrast to the way things look for electric vehicles at present in Spain. The take-up for electric vehicles is slow and the red tape to get the incentives are a barrier to the spread of e–mobility. The charging infrastructure across the country is patchy at best. Cities like Barcelona have a good infrastructure for electric vehicles. A city like Sevilla on the other hand has very few electric charging points. Same thing with the regions, Catalonia is looking forward and doing well, whereas Andalucia is lagging behind. Then if I go north from where I live into France, the provision of charging points is really very good. Even in small villages you find charging points. I’d like to see the European Union sending money to add charging infrastructure where it is needed.
Oh to have a Tesla
One of the reasons for buying a Tesla would be the supercharger network. I’d be able to drive from the bottom of Spain all the way to the top of Europe in Norway using superchargers. Tesla have provided a killer combination of charging network and long-range vehicle autonomy. For some drivers buying a Tesla would be the only choice which would make sense. My needs of an electric vehicle don’t quite fit in that bracket yet. I would still love to be a Tesla owner and driver. We can all dream, can’t we. Have to be grateful for the push and impetus to make the motoring world embrace electric vehicles. VW have 70 electric vehicles coming out over the next few years. Most other vehicle manufacturers are seeing the writing written large on the wall too.
Are Electric cars too expensive?
The cost of buying an electric vehicle still has to fall drastically in order to be the sensible option for the majority of drivers. It may well be the running costs are so much cheaper with an electric car. Not everyone can afford to pay the higher price for an electric vehicle. Even if there are savings making the car cheaper in the long run. When people can buy a car for the same amount of money I paid for my fossil fuelled Renault Clio is when electric vehicles will take over. The Renault Zoe does provide a way around high purchase costs with a battery leasing option. Whether it works out financially depends on how many kilometres you do per month. With the Clio I was paying around approximately €60 per month in fuel. Battery leasing is around €50 = I was still wondering when I was thinking of buying an electric car, how much I would have to pay for the electricity on top of that. I wasn’t keen on the battery lease idea.
Secondhand electric cars
Perhaps the answer for the budget conscious electric vehicle buyer is in the second-hand market. There are second-hand Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe cars. A good way to get into the electric future of car driving. You need to know something about batteries in second-hand cars. How do you know if they are in good condition or not? Battery degradation is something to watch out for. How many kilometres can you drive in a car which has a smaller battery capacity than when it was new?
I have found when buying second-hand cars you are to a certain extent buying somebody else’s problems. The previous owner possibly had a good reason for getting rid of the car. You could be lucky and find one where the owner was just buying a new car just because he wanted a new one. Then again, a second-hand car could have been causing problems for the owner and that was the prompt for purchase of a new vehicle. It’s hard to tell whether you’re going to be lucky one way or the other. I got unlucky with a Kia Carnival which is why I decided to make sure my next car was going to be a new one. New cars can have problems, but it is less likely and there is the warranty to fall back on. With my Leaf I am good for eight years with the warranty on the battery.
How long is the transition going to be?
It depends on how long the current fossil cars are going to last for. Here we are talking about the cars already on the road as well as the new ones being sold right now. Here in Spain I’m still seeing a lot of new cars going on the road which are fossil fuelled. The government is not giving enough encouragement to early adopters to make the choice for electric power. We see cars on the road which are 10 years old, maybe even older than that. So any new cars being sold at the moment running on fossil fuels have the potential of still being on the road in 10 years time. There’s going to be a need for regulations to encourage a changeover to electric vehicles. The rules and regulations to keep old polluting cars out of city centres are good for improving the air-quality. Someone living near to the city will want to have a car they can drive in these clear air zones. This could be an example of how legislation will help to hasten the transition. There are all sorts of promises from city and national governments saying they will ban fossil fuelled cars in 2030 or 2040. It seems a long way off and sometimes I wonder if I will see much of a change in my lifetime. As I walk in the street and a diesel car goes by stinking the air around me I feel annoyed and disappointed. Maybe I shouldn’t be so impatient. Change will come when the world is ready for it. Hopefully disastrous climate change doesn’t come too soon and make it too late for the electric vehicle revolution to have an effect.
On a brighter Note
It is extremely rare for someone who has driven an electric powered vehicle to go back to driving a fossil fuelled car. It’s so much cheaper to drive an electric car. The cost of electricity is more stable than the cost of fossil fuels. This makes it easier to predict how your finances are going to fare for a year or two in advance. It is not just in the cost of the fuel, but also lower vehicle maintenance costs. There are fewer moving parts to wear out and break in an electric vehicle. You are unlikely to have to change brake pads. There are no timing belts to change in order to avoid expensive engine repairs. You don’t have exhaust systems which need to be replaced. No oil changes are required or spark plugs to change. So basically, there’s a whole lot less hassle with electric car ownership.
The use of the happy pedal
One of the things all of us electric car drivers love to pieces is the instant torque. It’s this instant acceleration we get at whatever speed we are driving which gets us to rename the accelerator pedal the ‘happy pedal’. Electric vehicle owners are highly aware of how much energy is being used to cover the kilometres or miles. We don’t tend to overuse the happy pedal as it means we are using more of the battery energy when we do. It’s really nice it’s there when we need it. It always brings a smile on my face when I have to quickly get up to the correct speed to merge into traffic. I’m always happy to have the power to accelerate and overtake a vehicle as safely as possible. Fossil fuelled cars feel incredibly sluggish in comparison. Driving an electric car is not all about wanting to save the planet. Driving electric is also fun.
The Spanish government has recently announced this year’s EV fund money for the promotion of electric vehicles and infrastructure. Some of the money is for grants to help people buy electric vehicles and the rest of it is to go towards the installation of charging points around the country. The south of the country and in particular the interior of the country away from the coast really needs to get on board. I just visited Sevilla which is quite a large city in the south of the country. Sevilla is the capital of Andalucía and it compares really badly with Barcelona in terms of electric vehicles. Am I living in an electric vehicle bubble?
There were a couple of trams moving passengers through the city and these were electric vehicles. I did see an electric scooter/motorcycle, but I saw very few of the personal mode transport electric scooters. I did spot a few hybrid cars, but as they drove past I did hear the engine in operation. Full BEV is so much better. The buses in the city were all burning fossil fuels. One of the buses did have a sign only to say it was ecological. It was burning natural gas instead of diesel. Not that ecological! None of the buses were stopping the engine when pulled up. Birmingham in the UK was better as all of the buses were fitted with anti-idling controls.
The EV charger application which is most popular in this country is ElectroMaps. It doesn’t show any electric vehicle charging points in the city of Sevilla. In PlugShare I can see that there is a rapid charger at a Repsol petrol station and another one at the Nissan dealership. Apart from that, there are nine slow charges, some of them with the Shuko plug and some of them with Type II connections. For the size of the city, it is very poor coverage. Something needs to be done by the administration in this area to encourage electric vehicle ownership.
A different story in Barcelona
When I arrived back at the airport in Barcelona I was happy to get back to my Nissan Leaf. I saw another of the same model of Nissan Leaf in the car park. I knew there was plenty of choice for me to find a charger to top up the battery before heading back home. I used to the one nearest to the airport and while there I also saw another strange -looking electric vehicle. It was plugged into the slow charger which is next to the rapid charger which I was using. The car looked kinda funny and really only big enough for one, but two people got into it.
The electric vehicle bubble
I watch videos about electric vehicles and also listen to podcasts on the same subject. I drive an electric vehicle and I’m good at spotting electric vehicles when am out driving my car. Even when I’m walking I’m quite likely to notice if an electric vehicle goes past. After this experience in the capital city of Andalucía I’m wondering if I’m living in an electric vehicle bubble? Electric vehicles are the future and for me the future is now. The truth of the matter is electric vehicle still have a long way to go. The legacy car dealers are still pushing out the fossil fuelled cars. The price of electric vehicles needs to come down. Local governments have to do more to improve the air quality in their cities. The stench of diesel fumes is still far too evident in places like Sevilla.
On a brighter note, I did see on a sign that electric vehicles are allowed to drive in the bus lanes in Sevilla. Let’s hope there will be huge changes in the next couple of years in the uptake of electric vehicles in Spain.
With having my family here for the last couple of weeks I haven’t been able to do much in the way of podcasting, video making or writing. On the other hand, I have travelled a lot of kilometres in Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf. I feel really comfortable with the range the car has. I don’t feel I have much in the way of range anxiety at all. The day before yesterday my son and I got up really early to go to the airport. It was earlier than previous trip to the airport the day before because of a strike taking place in Catalonia. It was our hope we be early enough so we would miss all the fun and games out on the roads. The Catalan separatists don’t just go on strike but they also block the roads. At 5 o’clock in the morning we were doing great until we hit a huge traffic jam on the motorway. The Catalans had got out early and had set fire to the motorway. What they do is to drag a pile of tyres out onto the motorway and set it alight. We were stuck in this traffic jam for about an hour. Eventually the firefighters were able to clear one lane to allow people through. As we went through we could see the mess on the road even though all of the flames had been put out. Gave up after that and went home, didn’t even get half way to the airport. More traffic jams on the way back too. Five hours of our lives gone never to be seen again. At least we were comfortable in the Leaf. Love the Tekna seat for the comfort.
As always I was using Waze while driving. With the time wasted in the traffic jam and the ever more distant time of arrival showing in Waze. If we travelled further it was certain we would run into more problems. The time lost brought us into the heavy duty commuter traffic. This would be even heavier due to more people driving rather than using public transport. It was much more of a sensible plan to stay at home rather than go anywhere. We were left with no choice, but to turn round and go home. The plan was to take the non-motorway roads to get back home. This was going okay until we ran into another traffic jam. Another half an hour wasted. Finally found a turnoff to get back onto the motorway going in the home direction. We got lucky and the motorway journey back home worked out okay. One of the good things about having an electric car is that while you are sitting in a traffic jam you are using very little energy. During the hour while waiting Rosie used about 3% of the battery because it was cool enough to need heating. Using the LED headlights wasn’t much of a drain. Even so, when we arrived back at the house Rosie certainly needed to be plugged in. I think we had got down to about 20% left in the battery. It wasn’t really that efficient of a drive to the traffic jam and back home again. I knew we would get back home again and there were a couple of places I could plug-in along the way if absolutely necessary.
Getting the level of the battery back up again.
When I arrived back home again it was early enough that it could still take advantage of the cheaper level of electricity. The lower rate is available until midday. I wasn’t able to leave it on long enough to get it completely fully charged. However, went out on a small trip to the local town where there is a Type II Mennekes charger. It was a beautiful sunny day and just perfect for a trip to walk along the seafront. I was able to add more to the battery for free while enjoying the promenade.
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I went for a drive down the coast to check out a couple of charging points. I went to a place called Sant Pol de Mar and is not too far away from where Greg lives, the guy with the black 2018 Nissan Leaf. In the town there were three charging points to choose from and I went to all of them. The first two had two separate charging posts one with Shuko sockets and the other with two Mennekes sockets. In both cases the type 2 Mennekes sockets were not working. The other charging point was a little further inland and situated on the edge of an industrial estate. It was also right next to a petrol station. At least there was a shop there you could use to go buy provisions if you needed to. Of the two sockets the Type 2 socket was out of order. I needed to take a break, so I plugged in anyway and added 2% to the battery. It wasn’t really worth the bother, but at least I was able to go and use the facilities.
Chit Chat with a Leaf Owner
At the first place I stopped, I got talking to a guy who had a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf. He was just about to leave and I could have plugged in there after him if I’d wanted to. I still had plenty left in the battery and there was no point in taking him up on his offer. There was also a Kia Soul plugged into the same charger. With the slowness of the charging it would have been okay if you were going to stay there for the whole day. He also told me he expected the T2 Mennekes posts to be functional in the next month or so. The second charging place I went to wasn’t quite so close to the beach, but still within the main part of town. It was quite a nice little area. There was a children’s playground as well as places you could get something to eat if you wanted to. Same thing again, two charging posts and only one of them working. Same again only the slow one giving any electricity out. At the third stop I charged the car for a short while, just so I could stretch my legs for a few minutes. Not worth staying too long with the granny charging speed.
Time to move on and head in the direction of home.
I carried on until I got to Calella de Mar and I found another charging point. This one was better because it was two Type 2 sockets and both of them worked. I plugged in and took a walk down to the beach while waiting for the charging. You do have to pay for parking most of the day in this charger. I was lucky in that I turned up in between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock and it was free parking. The charging was also free. It’s certainly a good idea to read and take notice of any signs where you are charging. Otherwise you could end up with parking fines.
Renault Zoe Driver
A guy pulled up next to me in his Renault Zoe as I was about to leave and he had a chat with me. He seemed to be of the opinion there was something to do with the hour of 3 o’clock having an effect upon getting fined for parking. I’m sure he was wrong because I read the same post again and it was definitely free parking while I was there. In any case I rolled up my cables, put them into the boot of the car and went on my way. I drove past a couple of other places where I could have plugging in to charge on my way home. It wasn’t necessary for me to stop as I’d got the battery level up to 84%. Still had 61% left when I pulled into the garage at home.