Setting the Car Heating on a Timer

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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.

Nissan Leaf

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.

Leaf at the beach

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.

Nissan Leaf


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.

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Art Gallery Trip – Leaf Rat Run

Following the stupid GPS

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.

Electric Car Charging

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

Révéo Charger

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.

Electric Car Future

Future of electric cars

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?

Electric car future

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.

Tesla

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.

Electric Vehicle Bubble

Electric vehicles in Spain

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?

Sevilla Setas

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.

Electric Vehicle Bubble

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.

Catalan Strike Blocked Roads – Leaf Trip

Lots of driving in Rosie the Nissan Leaf

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.

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Decisions, decisions – What to do next?

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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Type 2 or Granny Charging Speeds near Barcelona

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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.

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EV Charging Roulette – On a Trip to France

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On Saturday it was a small day trip out with the EV. The plan was to go to a town near to the border and enjoy ourselves in a restaurant in which you can eat yourself silly if you want to. It’s a buffet style restaurant and cheap as well. It’s in a shopping centre which I’ve gone to before and used the Type 2 charging posts in the parking. On the previous occasion I was able to charge the car up quite a bit even though it’s only a Type 2 while getting something to eat. This time I wasn’t so lucky. When I got back to the car I found that the charging of the car hadn’t taken place. We has experienced EV Charging Roulette This was disappointing because we were planning to drive just across the border and needed that extra bit of charge.

EV Charging Roulette – Drive on or Drive Home

Although I wasn’t completely devastated on account of feeling tired I was still a little bit miffed. I had to make decisions based upon how much juice was in the battery – It was around about 39%. I could have continued the journey and charged in Perpignan. More EV Charging Roulette This was going out of my way because I wasn’t planning to drive that far. The town I was going to go to was out of the question because of only having slow chargers available at the destination. When I say slow, I really do mean slow chargers. I didn’t want to be stuck in a place for three or four hours waiting for the car to get enough charge to get back to the next charging point.

Double Checking the Charger

When I initially parked the car I did see some blue lights in the dash and also on the charging point. It looked like the car was charging. When I got back and found that nothing had happened while I was away I disconnected and tried again. I wanted to see where the problem was. Had I done something wrong? Perhaps I had accidentally touched some switches in the car and disabled the level 2 charging while away from home. I completely disconnected the cable from the car and the socket and did a fresh connection. I did this with the same socket and also with another one. I tried one that had worked for me before and again it looked like it was working and within one minute it stopped. I saw the blue light on the charger change back to green. It’s a bit of a shame because it’s a good place for me to stop when I’m travelling towards France.

EV Charging Roulette

The Problem with Three-Headed Rapids

Taking into account how I was feeling and all of the charging options available I decided it was better to head to back towards home. Fortunately I wasn’t too far away from Figueres where I’d have a choice of three rapid charging options. I decided to try out one of these where I’d had success before. When we arrived there was a car in the other charging bay and it was using the AC connector. I thought I would probably get some charge from this rapid charger, but I wasn’t sure how much it would be affected by the other car being charged. The battery wasn’t hot due to my driving or due to Rapidgate so I was expecting to pull in somewhere in the region of 35 kW.

Full Speed Ahead with the Nissan Dealership

After plugging in I saw the charging begin at 21 kW. This was obviously due to the other car being charged and not due to anything to do with the car. On account of there being other chargers in the vicinity I decided to move on. It was within 5 km to get to the Nissan dealership. It only took a couple of minutes to get there and I was soon charging at nearly twice the speed. Instead of needing nearly an hour to get the charge I required I was able to charge up in about 30 minutes or so. There are better facilities for the comfort break at the Nissan dealership. At least that’s the case during normal working hours.

The Presence of Passengers Affecting Charging Decisions

If I’d been on my own I may well have decided to keep going further north towards Perpignan. On account of having my wife and my mother-in-law in the car it was better to take the safer option. Another EV charging roulette option was to go to a 22kW rated charger in the small French town we were heading to originally. It would have been okay for the amount of time we planned to stay. It would have given us enough juice to drive back towards home and use one of the rapid chargers in Figueres or Girona.

Always Leave Home with a Full Battery – Less EV Charging Rouletter

Normally when thinking of doing a journey like this I’d had a full battery to start with. When I started out I think we only had around 85% to 95% and this was something else which affected my options available in La Jonquera. Next time I take that route towards France I may stop in the rapids before getting to the border for a quick top up. Then if I do have the same problem with the shopping centre chargers I won’t get quite so annoyed.
When I got back and plugged into the charger at home I was able to leave it overnight. The next morning I confirmed the problem wasn’t with the car we had a fully charged battery in my 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Add Ev Chargers To Plugshare – France

The Podcast
Do us a favour and go to iTunes or wherever you get your podcast and do two things.
1. Subscribe to the podcast and get it delivered automatically as soon as there is a new episode.
2. Leave a review of the podcast. It helps to get the podcast known in the podcast world. It is as good as telling someone else you know about the podcast. (Tell a friend directly too if you like.)

I went for an end of January trip to France add EV chargers to Plugshare application. I set out from home with the Guess-o-Meter to telling me I had about 240 km in the battery. With the temperature being low I don’t get as many kilometres as I used to in the summertime. Last summer I used to be able to get approximately 260 km of range in my Nissan Leaf. I will also have lost a slight amount of overall range in the battery due to having used it to drive nearly 14,000 km. For the trip I had planned for the day I had plenty of range. No Worries! I have the application by Révéo and there were four charge points just across the border in France which were not in the PlugShare application. Just for the sake of having a drive in my Electric car I decided to go and check them out.

First Stop Was The Shopping Centre At La Jonquera

There are four charging points in the shopping centre. I have used these before and they are useful if you are staying there for a reasonable amount of time. I parked and used these charging points even though I didn’t really need the electricity. I also wasn’t staying there long enough to benefit too much. It’s much better if you’re travelling with your wife and there is shopping to be done. Or if you are planning to get some food and are taking about an hour for a break.

add EV chargers to plugshare

First EV Charging Stop at Maureillas-Las-Lllas

This first of the EV chargers to add to Plugshare was easy to find. I had the address in Waze which I had to copy out of the Apple Maps application. When I’m using PlugShare I get a choice of which application I want to use for my mapping. I like to use Waze because it is more of a drivers application than just simple maps. You get better information about what’s happening on the road and it’s better at giving you alternative directions when there are traffic jams. The Révéo application sent me into Apple maps and I had to do a copy of the destination from the pin point on the map. I pasted it into Waze and we were in business.

add EV chargers to plugshare

How to Activate Révéo EV Chargers

The charging post was in a car park next to a large building. It was some type of public building and there were a couple of entrances to the car park. It didn’t take long to spot the charging point which was of the usual type by Révéo. It’s a stainless steel, modern looking device which at first looks like it doesn’t have any sockets. You have to get past the security first. To gain access you put your RFID card in the gap underneath either one of the doors. When your RFID card is recognised, the door opens for you so you can plug in. It’s all really simple and this electric vehicle charging post doesn’t even need to have a screen. Révéo also have a different type of charging post which does have a screen, but works in a similar way. The advantage is you can see how long you’ve been charging for and how much energy is going in. With the Nissan Leaf you have the Leaf Spy Pro application which will show you the amount of energy going in. So perhaps you don’t need to have a screen on the charging device itself. It’s also possible to activate these chargers by using the app.
On this occasion I still had plenty of battery available in my car. I didn’t want to use the charger and spend one hour in this small French village. I had plans to go to other places. It was better for me to wait until nearer lunchtime and possibly get some food while stopped. It was a little bit too early in the day to fill my face.

It’s Easy To Add EV Chargers to PlugShare

In other applications you submit the charging post details and somebody at the application will say yes or no. Simple to add EV chargers to PlugShare. PlugShare seems to trust users are going to add correct information to the application. There are a number of things you can add to the charger information. Name, Description, Phone Number, Address, Map Pin Location, Stations, Access, Cost and Pricing, Hours and Amenities. There is a feedback section where you can report any inaccuracies. It’s all really simple, the stations you add are the type of sockets available. These charging posts by Révéo tend to have two Type 2 Mennekes type sockets and two Euro type Shuko plug sockets. The best way to add multiple sockets is to add one and then use the button to duplicate. Under the section for amenities you can say whether there are lodgings, dining rooms, EV parking, restrooms (toilets), shopping, grocery or Wi-Fi. When you have filled in all of these details of the charging post it’s available in PlugShare for users to find places to charge their car.

add EV chargers to plugshare

What3Words and 3WordPhoto Apps

I like to take a photograph of the charging point using the 3WordPhoto application to add a picture to the listing. When you add EV chargers to PlugShare it helps people find the charging post they’re looking for. Using the What3Words address available in the 3WordPhoto application puts the three words address overlaid on the image. This gives accuracy as to exactly where the charger is to within 3 metres. I’d like to see this integrated into the PlugShare application, although the system of using a map pin isn’t too bad. It doesn’t zoom in quite close enough on my iPhone, but it does more or less does the job.

Onwards to Le Boulou

add EV chargers to plugshare

Le Boulou is another small town not far away from my first stopping place. I think it’s amazing that these charging points are so numerous and so close together. If one is not available then you don’t have to go far to get to the next. This one wasn’t so easy to find. The address given by the Révéo application was incorrect. It was situated in a car park in another street on the other side of some railway tracks. I was only able to find it by parking my car and walking under the railway tracks through a tunnel for pedestrians. Then I have to move the car. I should really write to Révéo and let them know. When I added the photograph to the PlugShare listing I also gave it the What3Words address. This was – ///elevators.deductions.processors from the 3WordPhoto application which is close enough. I checked later using the What3Words application and it perhaps should have been ///brat.crimson.manifold. It doesn’t matter in the slightest because if you get to the three metres square on the map you will see the charging point right in front of you.
Job done and moving on to the next charging point. It was still too early for stopping and taking some lunch. Time to head West in the direction of the coast.

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Révéo Charger at Saint Génis-des-Fontaines

At this destination there was an older type of Révéo charger. It’s a big metal box and not as pretty as the stainless steel ones. It still has doors locked in place to cover the sockets. It was the charging post which has a small screen on it. This charger was only approximately 8 km away from the previous one at Le Boulou. It was still early in the day and I didn’t need to connect with my cable. I added the details into PlugShare and included the What3Words address of ///bearded.knocked.tigress. Quite often when you get these addresses you get memorable words. This makes it easy to share the address with someone else. The whole idea behind this system is that you’re doing it with a set of three words rather than an unintelligible set of longitude and latitude numbers.

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Added the Charger at Soréde to PlugShare

This next stopping point was at a small village again just a few kilometres away. A good day to add EV chargers to plugshare app. It had the same type of charging post as in the previous stop. There are some grubby toilets in the car park where the charging post is situated. You really wouldn’t want to use these unless you were totally desperate. Not even a proper toilet, just the horrible hole in the ground type. Doors were not included. While I was adding the charger to the PlugShare application a little man with extremely bad teeth came to talk to me. My French isn’t terribly good, but I know he was basically asking me if the car was electric. The village was very quiet and there was hardly anything there. If you are stopping there to charge your car then you are most likely going to stay in your car and relax. It would only take five minutes to have a walk around and check the village out. Nothing to stop you walking further though. Even if there’s nothing there at least it’s a good idea to go out and stretch your legs if you’ve been driving for a long period. At least you get to move some blood around your body and get some fresh air into your lungs.

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Onwards Towards Argeles sur Mer And Another Révéo Charger

At this stop I was starting to get a little bit peckish. I didn’t see any places I wanted to stop and grab a bite to eat although I did find a Lidl. So I went in just to grab a snack from their bakery counter. I plugged into the Révéo charger and it was an easy process to activate. The charging bay next to where I was parked had been ICED and while I was adding the details to the application the driver came back. My French isn’t good enough for me to have a discussion with him. He did get the message though and spent a couple of minutes reading the sign next to the charger. After he had pulled out and I was still adding details, a driver in another car was thinking about pulling in. I waved my finger and shook my head and she got the message too. There were plenty of other parking spaces nearby. It was just laziness on the part of both of those drivers.

add EV chargers to plugshare

Huge Disappointment With The Révéo Charger at Argeles sur Mer

I came back to my car approximately 48 minutes later to discover there was hardly any difference to the battery level. I knew the charging speed was only 3 kW according to the charging details on the screen. The percentage of battery only went up by 2% which was not worth the €1.50 I paid for charging. You’d have to be at this charger for a long time to get any juice into your battery. During the daytime until 9 PM there is a cost per minute as well as the initial charge of €1.50 or €3 if you don’t have the RFID card. This works out very expensive and I don’t plan on using this type of charger again in a hurry. I think there is a possibility with the newer stainless steel type Révéo chargers you do get a faster charging speed. I’ll give one of those a try on my next journey into France. If you were desperate to get some charge into your battery then you might use one of these chargers. It could be worthwhile to plug-in at 9 PM in the evening and charge overnight. It goes back to charging per minute at 7 AM in the morning. You would get 10 hours of charging for €1.50/€3 while you were sleeping.

DC charging vs AC charging

Although the DC chargers are more rare it could be better to go looking for those instead. It’s possible to set the search in the application for just CHAdeMO sockets. This is okay as long as there is one of these DC chargers available on the route you plan to take for your journey. According to the Révéo application the chargers I was using were supposed to be 22 kW capable. This is something else I need to talk to the Révéo people about to find out why my Nissan leaf is only pulling in 3 kW on these chargers. It should be pulling in the 6.6 kW the car is capable of.

Time To Head Home

When I left Argeles sur Mer I had just over 50% in the battery and there was plenty to get me to the Nissan dealership in Figueres. It was only about 60 km away and I had more than 100 km available. When I arrived at the Nissan garage I had 26% in the battery. I stayed there for about 30 minutes and charged to just over 75%. This gave me more than enough to drive the distance back home. I was running short on time as I needed to get back to walk the dog. If I’d have had more time I would have stopped in Girona at the rapid charger at the south of the city. This was close to my route back home and it would have meant I would have had less charging of the battery to do with my own electric from the house during the night. The monetary difference would only have been around one euro so it wasn’t really worth the bother of stopping.

Successful Electric Vehicle Road Trip To France

I was able to add five EV chargers to PlugShare during my trip to France. The trip was a disappointment and unsuccessful in terms of getting any electricity from the Révéo charging point I decided to use. I drove 260 km and it was fun to drive around pretty French villages just to the north of the Pyrenees. I’m looking forward to my next trip to France. Next week I’ll probably take a trip towards Barcelona. There are a couple of charging points I would like to test out in that direction. The good thing about getting the vehicle charged in Barcelona is there are a lot of free EV chargers. It was a good drive to add EV chargers to PlugShare.

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2019 Nissan Leaf Announced & Trip To Birmingham

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Just after getting back from a trip to Birmingham for a family event the expected news from CES came through about the 2019 Nissan Leaf. There had already been plenty of rumours about what was coming with the new version of the generation 2 Leaf and there were no big surprises. The new size for the battery is 62 kWh which is more or less as was expected. So that’s about 50% more battery available and consequently 50% longer range. I suppose the range is going to be somewhere around 400 km. It’s been confirmed that there isn’t any liquid cooling/heating for the battery. Plenty of the Rapidgate detractors of the 40 kWh version are complaining even before tests show us how it’s going to work in practice. Is the battery going to get hotter with it being squashed into the same physical space as used by the 40 kWh car? What is the battery management system going to do to the charging speeds which have also increased with this car. Most CHAdeMO charges tend to be of the 50 kW variety. This latest Nissan Leaf will be capable of a faster charging speed, so it will still be possible to go from 20% battery to 80% battery in about 40 minutes. Just so long as you can find a CHAdeMO charger capable of those higher speeds. For most people that’s not going to make a lot of difference for the moment.

2019 Nissan Leaf

2019 Nissan Leaf E Plus – Nothing New to See

The 2019 Nissan Leaf doesn’t look any different on the inside or the outside of the car. It might just be noticeable when you’re in the driving seat there is a new slightly larger screen. It is supposedly of a higher quality with better resolution and better touch sensitivity. For those of us using Apple Carplay or Android Auto is not going to make much difference because we control most of what we need using our voice.

Prices going up to pay for the improvements with the2019 Nissan Leaf

There is supposed to be some improvement to the Pro Pilot Assist, but will have to wait until there are proper test drives and reviews before we can comment on this. Are the cameras and sensors new and improved? Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and find out when the car properly hits the road. Nissan have said the 40kWh car will still be available and the 2019 62kWh Leaf will be about €5000 or €6000 more expensive. I still don’t know the full details on pricing I’ll update this post when I more information. With the new improvements and the new prices people will be comparing closely with the Hyundai Kona, Kia eNiro and the Tesla Model 3. You might not have to pay too much more to get the Tesla and for many people that will be worth spending the extra cash. It also will be interesting to see what’s coming soon with the Hyundai Ioniq which should be amazing with a larger battery.

Travelling to the UK

Birmingham Canal

I drove my 2018 Nissan Leaf to Barcelona Airport en route to the UK. This time I didn’t charge the vehicle before going into the car park because it was early in the morning. Decided it would be a better option to charge the car on the way back after the trip to Birmingham. It was an easy job to pull into the charger nearest to the Barcelona airport before travelling home. There’s a fancy hotel next to the AMB charger where it was okay to take some refreshments are waiting for the charger.

Electric Powered Public Transport

While in the UK we did make use of some electric transport. There was the trip from the Birmingham International railway station next to the airport into the city centre. This was with an electrically powered train. All of the bus transport we used was using big old diesel engines, but at least they shut off when parked. They were not pumping out noxious fumes while idling at any of the bus stops. There was one trip on an electric tram from the jewellery quarter back into the Birmingham city centre. I like trams, there used to be lots of them in cities across the UK many years ago and they were all ripped out to make way for cars. It’s a very modern idea to put them back again and get rid of the cars. I was amazed at the low level of traffic within the city centre. Some of the streets had been made pedestrian only. I remember when I was a young lad driving down some of the streets in my car or on my motorbike. Many of them now are completely pedestrian, some are trams only, while others allow buses. Even the roads where cars were allowed I thought the level of traffic was extremely low. This is good news for the city centre. I did think that there could have been more effort to make cycle lanes both within the city and also on the roads going out to the suburbs. Didn’t see any electric scooters as I saw in Barcelona. That’s down to the laws of the UK not allowing them on pavements or roads. That should be changed.

2019 Nissan Leaf
Old Birmingham Pub

Electric Vehicle Charging Points in Birmingham

While walking around the city I did spot a couple of charge points. There was one around the back of the Birmingham City Art Gallery and Museum. We didn’t see any cars charging while walking past it. Whilst in Sutton Coldfield, my sister informed me there were chargers just round the corner from the restaurant. She told me they were often in use, so we can assume there are some electric cars around even though I didn’t see any on my travels.

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Electric Car Road Trip in a Nissan Leaf

EV20Q Podcast
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EV20Q Podcast 49 – Révéo Charging in France

It was another electric car road trip day and this time to France. I recently received the Révéo RFID card and I wanted to test it out. On my last trip in a northerly direction to do the testing I wasn’t able to get past the traffic jams to get into France. I wasn’t sure if it was the roadworks taking place on the French side to widen the bridge or if it was the yellow vest protesters being revolting. On this day out we did see some of the yellow vest revolutionaries by the side of the road as we were coming back onto the motorway in the direction of Spain. It looked like they were busy doing some cleaning up and they were not stopping traffic from flowing. We got lucky!

A Surreal Charging Point on my Electric Vehicle Road Trip

The first part of the trip was to drive to Figueres which is the hometown of Salvador Dali. I have visited the Dalí museum three or four times and I have a couple of favourite paintings in there. Our interest on the trip was less of surrealist art, more about putting some electrons into Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf. On the outskirts of town there’s the Nissan dealership and it’s a good place to stop for charging. The CHAdeMO charger is easy to get to and not hidden away inside the workshop or within a compound. So it’s available 24-hours seven days a week. We stayed for about half an hour, maybe a little less and added a decent amount into the battery. I think we arrived with about 68% of battery and left with something in the region of 90%. The dealership was open and we had a look at an NV200 van which was converted into a camper. I’d certainly have one of these as an electric propelled eNV200 campervan. If you don’t mind doing a conversion by hand, it would probably work out a lot cheaper to buy the van and put the bits and pieces in yourself.

Leaf in the Dealership showroom

Crossing the Border into France

The road between Spain and France at the coast is interesting and winding. Good roads for an electric car road trip. Even though I had to drive slowly, I enjoyed the trip through Portbou. We stopped in a couple places here and there to take photos and shoot video. Just across the border we drove into a town called Cerbére. As it was time for lunch we were happy to plug in and charge the car. Found one of the Révéo chargers we were looking for, in a car park by the beach. The parking was free due to it being winter and there was a pizza place on the other side of the road. Disappointing the charge was going in to the car quite slowly. Much too slowly for a charger rated at 22 kW in the Révéo app. Using my new Révéo RFID card with a €1.50 connection charge and two cents per minute after the hour meant that even with a slow charge it wasn’t too expensive. For just over an hour its cost €1.78. It would be more cost-effective to find one of the CHAdeMO chargers on the same network. These destination type chargers are still useful for the grazing type charging. It’s good to add to the battery while you’re doing something else, like getting food or having a walk around the town.

electric car road trip

Collioure Tourist Trap and Charging Spot

After filling our faces with tasty pizza it was time to move on to the next town on our electric car road trip. The next town was Collioure and it was full of tourists, a harbour and a castle. The charge points were right next to the castle and there were two bays available. Both of these charging spots were empty and we took up position. We asked a local police officer if the parking was free while charging and they said yes. Once again I used the RFID card from Révéo to activate the charger. It was an easy operation to get the charger working. Spent a little over an hour walking around the town and exploring. We were connected to the charger for one hour and five minutes and the cost was €1.62.

electric car road trip - Collioure in France

EV Hole Kona Electric Driver

When we got back to the car we spotted a Hyundai Kona which looked pretty cool. He was also on an electric car road trip. Had a quick look around and it’s not got quite as much room in the back seats as my Nissan Leaf. It would be a good car to have with the larger 64 kWh battery. I certainly would have considered it if it had been available at the same time as I was buying the Nissan Leaf. With the extra battery available it would have probably cost another €5000 or €6000 more than my Leaf. Probably would have been worth paying the extra money for the bigger battery even though for the most part I don’t need it with my Nissan. In terms of value for money and the fact the Kona is available now I would say it’s a better deal than the Tesla Model 3. I think the overriding factor which would make you choose a Tesla rather than the Hyundai would be the network of superchargers you get with a Tesla.

Transport and Fuel – It’s All About To Change

It was obvious the Hyundai Kona driver was new to the realm of electric vehicle ownership. He had pulled into the electric charging bay for the Révéo charger and was not plugged in. It would have been good manners to have either plugged in or use a normal parking spot. Another EV driver on a electric car road trip arriving at the charging place would have been disappointed on being unable to plug-in due to this EV-Hole. An ICE-Hole is a driver of a fossil fuel car parking in a EV charging place. An arse-hole is just a bad person. Let’s hope people like this learn EV etiquette quickly. In the transition period between the majority of cars being fossil fuelled and the passage towards a fully electric vehicle environment there’s going to be pain points. The number of charging points will have to increase to take into account of the increasing number of EV’s on the road. The behaviour of drivers will have to change to take into account the new usage of energy/fuel.

Shopping and Charging – Or Not

On the move again and instead of heading back the way the same way, we took the easier route back on the main roads and motorways. A relaxed drive using Pro Pilot Assist in my 2018 Nissan Leaf called Rosie. It was a good day for am electric car road trip. We arrived in Girona and pulled into the shopping centre to use the facilities. My wife can’t resist a whizz around the shops looking for bargains. There are four charging points in this shopping centre, but we couldn’t get into the parking underneath easily. Annoyingly, a long queue of cars for the main car park where the charge points are situated. So we didn’t bother going in as we easily had enough power to get home. Plenty of charge in the battery so we used another car park which was easier to get into. Fortunately didn’t have to stay there too long. I’ve had enough of shopping to last me a long time over the last couple of weeks. The only shop of interest was the one selling personal electric vehicles. The single wheel Segway types, electric scooters and bicycles looked like fun.

Overview of the Electric Car Road Trip

When we got home there was about 20% left in the Leaf battery. To fill it back to 100% would cost around about €2.50. I reckon the total cost for driving 276 km was about €5.90. Even factoring in the cost of eating pizza while out it was a cheap day out for the number of kilometres driven. You have to feed yourself anyway during the day, so let’s not count the food costs. Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a joy to drive as well as being highly economical. During the winter it is great to make use of the heated seats when on an electric vehicle road trip. Seat heating takes very little electricity and has a negligible effect on the range of the car. Even using the car heating it only takes between 6km to 8km off the Guess-o-Meter range.


Nissan Leaf long-distance driving and Rapidgate


During the year since the 2018 Nissan Leaf came out, some people have complained about the throttled charging on a long trip. I can honestly say it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. Usually, this is due to the necessary stops due to bladder range. If there’s a charging spot available you might as well plug in and add electrons to the battery during a 15 to 20 minutes stop. After an hour or so of driving it’s good to stretch your legs anyway. I usually find with such a stop I have still got 50% to 60% left in the battery. The battery isn’t too warm from having been used hard during driving. In any case, a relaxed style of driving keeping the speed under 102 km/h on the motorway isn’t working the battery too hard. It’s often true with the second stop of the day that it’s time for food. This usually means a break of about one hour and that’s plenty of time to put more juice into the battery before driving on. Depending upon the speed of the charge, this will bring the battery back up to nearly 100% and ready for the next stage of the journey. If the charge speed is throttled back on a second or third charging it’s also highly likely you’ll be more in need of extra time to recuperate from the driving. The rapid charger might be slower, but you’ll be taking advantage of that with a longer rest period. I reckon Nissan got it right with the battery management for the large majority of Leaf owners.

Optimum Driving and Charging

People who might complain about Rapidgate and the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be those who are in a hurry to get someplace. Perhaps they have more than one driver, meaning it’s easy to have short breaks on the journey before driving on further. Someone driving a vehicle as part of their job and having time constraints might need a longer range vehicle. For the average person on an electric car road trip Rapidgate is not really going to be much of a consideration. There are enough charging points on a route these days, especially through France it seems. More charging points are being situated during 2019 in Spain. So it works well to use the grazing type of charging as you travel on your electric car road trip. By not letting the battery get down too low it’s not working so hard and the temperature is kept low. Having short charging stops means you are not waiting too long when the charging speed has tapered down after 80%. This also helps to keep the battery temperature lower. The optimum charging speeds are found when charging the battery from 20% up through to 80%.

2019 Nissan Leaf Coming Soon

The new Nissan Leaf is going to be announced at CES in the U.S. in January. There are already rumours flying around about improvements made to the car. It’s expected there will be a battery in the region of 64 kWh coming from a different manufacturer. Even though the car hasn’t been announced properly there are rumours suggesting there will be no liquid temperature management of the battery. Electric car pundits and journalists are complaining about this even without knowing any of the details. We’ll have to wait and see and make our mind up when the car actually hits the road. I expect the car journalists will do a more thorough testing of the car than they did with the 2018 Nissan Leaf. There was a honeymoon period with the 2018 car when none of the journalists mentioned anything to do with the charging speeds. The Nissan Leaf was still ahead of the game with regards the technology and the comparative pricing. When the new version is announced in 2019 there will be other competitors to compare the car against. As well as the Tesla Model 3 there is the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia eNiro as well as an updated Hyundai Ioniq.

What Improvements Would I Like to See

I’d like to see a faster AC charging speed for the next Leaf. The built-in charging should be increased from the 6.6 kW to the 22 kW as you see in the https://ev20q.com/ev-nicolas-raimo-renault-zoe-driver/Renault Zoe. This should make a big difference driving the car around in France. For the moment the Nissan Leaf is still the biggest selling electric car worldwide, although that might change soon with the speed with which tester is making the Model 3.

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