Nearly Two and Half Years Driving an Electric Car

Overall, I’m still happy with my Nissan Leaf which I bought in 2018. It has the 40 kWh battery and for most of my journeys is just perfect. During this time there have been a couple of journeys where I have suffered range anxiety. I did a trip to Arles in France to see an exhibition of Vincent van Gogh’s work projected into a quarry. I didn’t run out of electrons during the trip, but I did have to change my journey to take account of the smaller battery. At the end of the journey I wished I’d stayed for an extra day so I could have left on the Monday morning with a full battery. The Nissan dealership just around the corner from the hotel where I was staying wasn’t open on Sundays. The other rapid charger in the town didn’t seem to want to work for me. I could have had a more relaxed journey home when starting with a full battery. It would have even been nice if I could have charged while at the hotel. Next time I’ll look for a hotel with charging facilities for electric cars.

I've Gone Slightly over to the Dark Side

After taking a trip to Dubai and going for motorcycle rides with my sons, I got the need for a motorcycle. Of course I looked at the availability of electric motorcycles, but nothing fitted the bill. The only two electric motorcycles anywhere near my requirements were either €10,000 or €20,000 more than I was halfway close to being prepared to pay. In the end I bought a Honda NC750S which at least does have the advantage of being frugal with the dinosaur juice. It’s been a little bit strange to visit petrol stations after two years of not doing so. Because of having so much fun riding a motorcycle during the summertime I’ve used it for my trips to work more than I’ve used the car. I’ve missed having the car with me. It’s good to use as my island of peace for my lunch break. I missed having a place to escape which was air-conditioned and free from mosquitoes. I still preferred to ride my motorbike just for the fun of it. I would have a Harley-Davidson Livewire motorcycle in a heartbeat if I had four times the money had paid for the Honda available to me. The Zero Motorcycles are also phenomenal, but still not up to the range requirements. I couldn’t justify buying a motorcycle for €22,000 which didn’t measure up to the €8000 internal combustion engine option. I’d like to think in a couple of years time I could consider an electric bike from a range of possibilities. At the moment I don’t think is very likely due to the size of motorcycles compared to cars. There’s just not enough space to put a decent sized battery. Batteries are getting more energy dense, but it’s a least five years before anything good happens with any motorcycles. It just doesn’t make sense to have a motorcycle which weighs so much and gives so little. The other problem to overcome with motorcycles is the lack of aerodynamics.

What about My EV Future

I bought my Nissan Leaf outright with cash and I always planned to get as many years out of it as possible. I’d like to get 10 years of use from the car. Over that time the range will become less. There will also be new electric vehicles becoming available which will be better in many different ways. There will be cars with more range. Indeed, there are already cars with better range in just the short time I’ve owned the Leaf. There will be other improvements such as faster charging. Rather than buying a complete new car I’m thinking along the lines of improving the one I have. There’s a company in Netherlands which which fits extended battery packs to Nissan Leaf vehicles. I believe they also do an exchange of batteries and I could fit the 62 kWh Leaf battery to my car. I could even upgrade to the 62 kWh battery and still add an extended battery pack. That would give me a huge range for my car. Much more than I would need. I also do an update to the charging facilities. I could get three phase charging which could give me up to 22 kW charging. This would take the car halfway towards the rate of charge I get with DC charging at the moment. These options are definitely worth considering.

The Change to Electric Vehicles Is Not Fast Enough

When I see brand new petrol powered cars on the roads I feel disappointed. There are not enough reasonably priced electric vehicles for the ordinary buyers yet. The government in Spain are not doing enough to encourage people to buy electric vehicles. There is a grant available, but it’s difficult to get your hands on it. The Spanish government are also not being proactive enough in putting out the rapid chargers around the country. I still think it’s too difficult to use many of the charging facilities available. There are lots of free chargers to use around Barcelona for example, but you need the RFID card to use them. I think they will get more use if you could pay to use them with a credit card. I like them being free now, but that’s one of the things that’s holding back the implementation of good EV infrastructure in the country.

New Models of EV Coming to Market

It’s good to note there are many more electric vehicles available for consumers. The new electric vehicles from Volkswagen are being noticed by the general public. I was pleased to see on one of the large advertising boards at the side of the road an advertisement for the ID3. This was in the small town in which I live. I’m sure there are many more of these ads all around the country. Volkswagen are trying to get past their Diesel-Gate debacle. It would be good to see other major car manufacturers get on board with the change to EV.

EV Myths Still Abound

    When talking to ordinary folk about electric cars they still think you have to have a car which will do 500 km on one charge. But don’t realise you can start every day with a full battery by charging overnight. Most days of the year you won’t need to use half of what you can charge to during that overnight charge. When you go on a longer trip the time it takes to charge a battery to continue on your journey is only about as much time as you need to get something to eat. Even when you have a quick stop you can plug-in for 15 to 20 minutes and that could be all you would need for your journey. People are starting to realise that the electric vehicle is the future, but there needs to be more encouragement. The government should put higher taxes on petrol and diesel vehicles, especially the diesel. There needs to be better incentives which are easier to get to by electric vehicles. Something like the interest-free loans you can get in Scotland would be nice.

Tesla's Battery Day

The highlights of the battery day presented by Elon musk gives hope for the future. He’s promising a car which would be in the region of $25,000 and this really could be a car for the masses. He did promise a Model 3 in the region of $35,000 and we’ve yet to see that. He doesn’t really need to bring the price of the Tesla Model 3 down when he selling so many of them at €50,000. The long term prospects look good though. More non premium EV vehicles will become available over time. The battery technology will improve and the economies of scale will come into play also.

800km Trip with Rosie The Nissan Leaf

Arles for a Van Gogh Exhibition

The trip to Arles in France in my Nissan Leaf at the end of December went fairly well. I like to stop a place in Figueres which is only about 70 km away from where I live. It’s good for a quick top up before arriving in France. It’s a Nissan dealership with a rapid charger. I wasn’t successful this time to get much charge because the connector on the end of the cable was slightly damaged. We talked to the salesman in the shop and he told us it was down to users dropping it on the floor. This was one of the big and heavy connectors and you think it would be more robust. The machine kept giving me errors and I couldn’t get any DC juice.

We continued driving on towards a place called Rivesaltes which is just north of Perpignan. I drove past the chargers at the Nissan dealer in Perpignan and at the Auchan supermarket because I wanted to try out this other one. I saw in a tweet that Glyn Hudson and his wife had used this one on their way down from Wales in their ENV200 campervan. They said it was free to use and I was surprised because it’s at a petrol station. They were correct and it was a charge for no charge.

Charging the Leaf Rivesaltes

Renault Zoe Country

Our next stop was in a place called Sete where there’s a charger at an Auchan supermarket. It wasn’t too difficult to find because the car park wasn’t too large. When I pulled in, there was a Tesla model X next to the charging bay. I don’t know if it was waiting to get some charge but he moved anyway. In the charging bay there was a Renault Zoe. Fortunately I only had to wait about five minutes for the owner to return so I could plug in. At this charger we plugged in for about 40 minutes and got the battery level up to about 90%. I was about 10 minutes longer than I expected to be because I fell asleep in the passenger seat while charging. A Nissan Leaf pulled in beside me while I was there. He left a message by leaving the charge port open on his car. I was able to oblige by plugging his car in before I left. This was made possible because the charger was also on the free vend. I do have a couple of RFID cards which would have worked with this machine, but they weren’t necessary.

No Destination Charger at the Hotel

That was all the charging necessary for the journey of about 380 km. Our next stop was at the hotel in Arles. We arrived there with around about 30% in the battery. I didn’t plan it, but there’s a Nissan dealer just around the corner from the hotel. Shame there wasn’t a charging point at the hotel itself. More hotels are going to have to install destination chargers. I think next time I go travelling I will choose the hotel based on whether they have a charger or not. I left it too late to get any charge at the Nissan dealer that day. We were able to go into the dealer and ask if they were open the following day which was a Saturday. They told us they opened at nine and we were welcome to use the charger. I was able to get a reasonable amount of charging and still have time to get to the Van Gogh exhibition in a village not far away.

It's all About the Art...

The exhibition took place at a quarry. You might think it was a strange place for an exhibition, but this was kind of special. This quarry has been converted to show audiovisual exhibitions. You go into a big cave with large flat walls onto which they project the pictures. The pictures were animated and there was music to go with it. It was like being inside Van Gogh’s life or at the very least inside his paintings. it was impressive and we were able to watch the show twice. There was also a showing at the same time of Japanese art. It was all extremely enjoyable!

Arles was a pleasant town to visit. We also got to see the Roman arena in the centre of the town. It’s impressive that buildings so old can last so long. The town is still able to use it for things like music concerts.

Van Gogh

Chargers Not Working or Missing Completely

After exploring the town we went back to the car park where I had left Rosie the red Nissan Leaf. It was beside the river and there were two DC rapid chargers. I was planning to get a good amount of charge into the car ready for our journey back home the following day. I couldn’t get either of them to work. It’s recognised the card, but then no electricity actually flowed. We really need to move to a situation where you can use credit cards to pay for your charging at whatever charge point. These RFID cards are a stupid idea. I couldn’t go back to the Nissan garage because it was closed on Saturday afternoon. If Nissan were serious about electric cars they would have these rapid chargers more accessible. They could even provide two or three bays with Type II connections. They can make it so that only the Nissan vehicles could use them if they want to.

Auchan Montpellier

Sunday is not the best day to go travelling with an electric car. The Nissan dealer is still closed. We headed away from the town towards Montpellier. I planned to try to get some charge in a place called La Grand Motte and was unsuccessful. Using the application PlugShare we got to the place where the charger was supposed to be. Drove around the car park and the road to the car park two or three times and there was no charger there. Very disappointing. According to PlugShare there was another charger at the other end of town. I decided not to bother. I considered it a better plan to head towards Montpellier towards the next charging possibility. If I’d a fully charged battery which would have been possible if the hotel had chargers, we could have seen more of the coastal area. I had to spend time thinking about where I would get the car charged rather than enjoying my trip. It’s at times like this when having a larger battery or maybe just having a Tesla would have been a good idea.

Tesla Drivers Behaving Badly

When we pulled into the charger there was a Nissan Leaf connected to the CHAdeMO. There was also a Tesla plugged into the AC connector. The Tesla had been sitting there for a long time. Hours and hours. All we could do was to wait for the 30 kWh Nissan Leaf driver to finish. He was at 74% with his battery and told me he would be another 10 minutes. 25 minutes later I had to remind him. He was just being cheeky using the free electricity. While we were waiting another Tesla pulled up. So the Nissan driver pulled out and we pulled in and I connected up. Just after that the driver of the first Tesla who was connected to the AC turned up and moved his car. It got kind of amusing because the other Tesla driver was asking me if he could jump the queue. For some strange reason he thought he should be able to get in to charge before me. I had been waiting longer and didn’t want to wait even longer than that. He was happy when the other Tesla moved out of the way because he thought it would be able to get charging. Except, he wanted to use the CCS cable. This is one of those machines where you can only connect one DC charger at a time. I was using the CHAdeMO so the CCS was not going to work for him. If you have a look in the video you’ll see that he was getting kind of angry at this time and started bashing the machine with his fist. I would have been annoyed if he’d done something to stop my car from charging. He must have been new to the car because he didn’t understand how this worked. While he was waiting he could have used the AC connector, but didn’t. He had to wait until I had sufficient in my battery for my drive home.

Chill Out Driving a Nissan Leaf

When driving on the motorway I like to set the intelligent cruise control to about 104 km/h. It’s not too slow and usually feels quite relaxing. There are some lorries and other vehicles going a little bit slower. So every now and then I have the job of overtaking which helps to break the boredom on a long trip. I left myself the option of stopping in Girona for a top up. I could also have pulled into Figueres. I didn’t have to do either and I was able to arrive home without having to worry about the number of kilometres I had left in the battery. The complete trip worked out at about 800 km and for the most part worked very well.

About Being an Early Adopter of Electric Cars

With my Nissan leaf I am still what you would call an early adopter. I am happy and proud to be driving an electric car. I love my Nissan leaf and I’m pleased to be doing something for the environment. Greta Thunberg would be proud of me and Extinction Rebellion could give me a thumbs up also. There are still insufficient charging points. The balance between the range of my car and the infrastructure is still not quite right. My car would be perfect if there were more available charging points. Having a single charging machine in a town is not good enough. Hotels without destination chargers will not be getting my business in the future. It’s still necessary to have a relaxed frame of mind to be a driver of an electric car. At least that is the case when you’re going on a longer trip. You have to be prepared to do a certain amount of planning. You need a plan B and sometimes even a plan C for those times when chargers are not working or not there. Things are changing and will get better in the next couple of years. I’ve had my car for 18 months now and I’ve already seen some improvements. Could be better though. 

Checking Out New Charging Spots

Listening to Blue Öyster Cult

I came out to a local town and check out the new charging point newly available. It’s a fast charger and not a rapid charger. On the front there are two doors one says charging 22 kW and the other one says charging normal 6 kW. The charger I’m using is the 22kW which has the type two socket. I’ve not looked, but I expect the other to be a shuko socket. I’ll only get 3kW out of that one and have to use the slow granny cable. 

Llagostera Charging

Llagostera EV Charging

Pleasant wee place, with the charger in the town square centre. Not much going on at this time of the day. Quiet and not many people wandering around so little chance of people watching entertainment. 

There are two bays for charging and no signs with regulations. Perhaps that’s why the eNV200 Van next to me, is parked and not plugged in. The van belongs to the town so the driver probably thinks he has a right to park there if he wants. 

Lloret de Mar

Lloret de Mar Charging

At my previous stop the charging post had two type two sockets. One was being used by a BMW i3 driver. Typical to see when I got back after my forty five minutes to see it still there, thirty minutes over the two-hour limit. The other Nissan Leaf driver who turned up after me had put a notice on the windscreen telling him to respect the time limit. 

There’s another charger in the town at the seafront. I took a spin down there on my electric scooter. It’s a T2 and shuko combination. Only one bay for a car to pull in. 

Still more chargers needed

My own nearest local town doesn’t have a charger yet. I’ll see if I can bring it up at the next public meeting. There should be one. The next town has two fast chargers and will soon have a three headed rapid charger inaugurated. There’s even another Rapid only about 4km away from that, also nearly ready for public use. 

It’s not like the small towns and villages in France just on the other side of the border. Just about every small place has a public charging point. 

A Minor Icing

While I was sitting in the car, the town owned van moved away. Not too long after that a little old lady came in and parked an ICE car. There wasn’t much point in me getting out and saying anything. There are no signs to tell people to not park unless charging. She was only there for approximately five or ten minutes maximum.

A Little Bit of Writing

My first stop this morning was to do some shopping. Extended the time out a little by going for a spin on my electric scooter. That was fun! It was on the way home I stopped in this other town to check out their new electric vehicle chargers. It was also because I wanted to take advantage of the free electricity. I can connect to most of these chargers for free using the BCN Live RFID card. I’m comfortable in my car with the heated seats and the heat exchanger warming up the cabin. I like to get out the iPad and do some work. Today though I decided to work using just the iPhone. I was using the Swipe keyboard instead of dictation. The only reason for this was because I wanted to listen to some music while working. Rosie makes a great office.

Since My Last Post On EV20Q

I’ve taken a couple of trips to the mountains. The latest one worked very well. I had more weight in the car I had to take account of. It went well with the charging points along the way too. The first stop was for free in the Nissan dealer. The next one was in Perpignan at the shopping centre. It wasn’t free, but I think it was still pretty cheap. I haven’t even checked how much it cost. Then there was one more stop along the way and I used a fast charger rather than a rapid charger. I didn’t really need any extra electrons, but seeing as I was stopped anyway. With the RFID card I have for that particular charger the cost was only around €1.50.

Rosie News

Rosie Charging in BCN

Rosie, my Nissan Leaf now has 29k kms on the clock. The only cost apart from the electric has been a new wiper blade on the driver side. Tyres are still looking good. Still have the small mark on the car, front offside which I saw after one month of ownership. Also scraped the bumper on the rear offside. Don’t know how either scrape happened. Inside, the car is still like new. Totally happy with the car although I’d be happier if I had the newer version with the 62kWh battery. It would give me an extra bit of breathing room for the longer trips. It’s not worth the extra cost though for the extra convenience I’d have. I don’t mind stopping and charging. Before electric I would keep driving on even if tired. That’s a bit dangerous. A surprisingly large number of actions happen when drivers are tired.

Electric Car Trip To Girona

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.

Rapid Charger in St. Feliu de Guixols

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.

My Continuing EV Journey in Spain

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

Short Trips and Shopping Centre Charging

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!

Electric Car charging at La Jonquera

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.

One Year Service on Nissan Leaf

Getting the car serviced

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.

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.


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.