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

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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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Leaf vs Hire Car – Gen 2 Leaf Facebook Group

48 – EV20Q Podcast News

Since my last road trip with my Nissan Leaf I visited Ireland. I had to hire a car in Ireland and unfortunately, it was a petrol car. It sounded and felt really agricultural compared to driving my beautiful electric car. As we were leaving from Barcelona airport it was necessary to drive from home to the parking space where we left Rosie for the four days we were away. It was an easy drive down and on the way there was time to pull into the AMB Electric vehicle charger near to the airport. It didn’t take long to get the battery up to just over 75% so when I arrived back in the country I wouldn’t need to go looking for a charger to make sure I had enough energy for getting home.


I have in the past I’ve driven from home to Barcelona airport and back again with one full charge of the battery. That was in the summer time and I think the range in winter is just a little bit less. It made sense to add some electron juice to make sure. I didn’t want to fill the battery to 100% because it doesn’t do the battery any good to leave it full over a number of days. It’s better to keep it under 80% to make sure no damage is done to the battery. It probably would have been okay, but it’s best not to take any chances anyway.

Weird Fossil Car


It was so weird to drive a hire car, especially one without cruise control. You can get used to having cruise control that’s intelligent with the radar to keep your distance from the car in front. Pro Pilot Assist is a marvellous safety feature well worth having. I don’t rely on it for the steering, but I do allow it to assist me to steer the car.


In the hire car I had to get used to changing the manual gears. I had to use a switch to manually turn on the headlights and another switch in order to dip the headlights. I even had to reach up to manually dip the rear view mirror. After all these months of having a technologically advanced car going to drive a hire car is like driving like an animal.


I also missed my comfortable seats I have in my 2018 Nissan Leaf Tekna. I’m glad I paid extra to get the top of the range with the good seats and the heating included.

Deer Park Forest – Virginia, Ireland

Yearning for a Big Trip


I can see that one of these days I will have to drive my car up through France, maybe go across the UK and once again take the ferry crossing to Ireland. I’d love to do one of these really long road trips and really drive my electric car to the limit. I feel comfortable with having enough electric charge points I can connect to all the way through France. I would have to do some research and checking on what I would need in terms of RFID cards and apps for driving through England and Wales. It would take a lot longer than flying and I’m not sure I’d persuade my wife to take the trip because she doesn’t like going on boats. It would also be weird driving my left-hand drive car on the wrong side of the road in the UK and Ireland.

Gen 2 Nissan Leaf owners on Facebook

This group has grown to over 1500 members. Many of the members are actual owners of the Gen 2 Nissan Leaf. It’s a good group to be in to share knowledge about our favourite electric car. Sometimes the questions are about the general workings of the car. People who have just bought the Leaf or about to buy the car and are wondering about a functional feature of the Nissan Leaf. We have members in the group who have had the car for a long time and done a lot of miles or kilometres in their vehicle. So there is a lot of experience and knowledge available. It’s also a good place for us to share photos of our cars. Spreading a bit of the Leaf love.


There are times when we have problems with the vehicle. Like that time I had a problem with my radar sensor at the front of the car. I was able to see if other people had experienced the same problem and what they did to be able to get things sorted out. By the way, my Pro Pilot Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control has been working perfectly since I got the radar sensor changed.

Rubbish Leaf Connect App


All of the group know that the application you get from Nissan to connect to you car is a bit rubbish. It takes a huge amount of time to connect to the car via the server at Nissan. I can understand it is necessary to go via a server at Nissan for digital security. I just wish it was not quite so glacier slow. I have been looking at another application called Leafy. This works a little bit quicker and I’m able to see if the car is connected to the charger. I can tell it to start charging from the app. I can also send commands to the air conditioning in case I want to preheat or pre-cool the car. For the moment I think I will stick with the Leafy app and not bother with the app from Nissan. Even though the app from Nissan has just been updated. In fact, it seems as if the app is working worse than previously.

Braking and Regen


One of the members of the group, Peter Haas is asking about the E pedal. “Anyone else notice ePedal regen going to full when you let off the accelerator, then quickly dropping to no regeneration, regardless of speed. Braking continues, but not as strong as I have grown used to. Looking at the powermeter the regen stops so I assume the car is applying the friction brake. What’s going on?


This isn’t a problem I’ve come across myself with my Nissan Leaf. Other users have asked for more information such as the level of the battery. If the battery is at 100% then obviously you’re not going to get any regen because there’s nowhere for the generated electricity to go to.


It could just be there is some sort of actual problem and Peter needs to take the car to the dealership and get it checked out properly. Another possibility would be to look into the Leaf Spy Pro and see if there are any error codes. As far as I can make out it seems that some of these error codes are a little bit cryptic and you need to get the garage to properly look at the car anyway.


Jennifer says that her car occasionally goes into fiction breaking without regen. She says if she gives a blip on the pedal it restarts to regen. It seems what this does is to stop the breaking briefly and then when the car starts to brake again it works with the regen rather than using the friction brakes.
David thinks its unusual behaviour and he says you need to be aware the power meter has a different scale between B mode and E-pedal. What may look like less regen on the meter, it actually isn’t.


Another hypothesis, this time from Patrick is that if you go down a steep hill, the friction brakes seem to take over. Also if the road is rough the car is more likely to use the friction brakes. I have driven down some steep hills and even some of them had rough surfaces and I haven’t noticed anything myself. Benedict says the reason it’ll go to friction brakes is because they work on all four wheels. If you’re only using regen then you’re only getting the braking action happening on the front wheels. It’s because of safety reasons regen is minimised and the friction brakes are used to give you the braking power you’re looking for.
Another owner-driver of the 2018 Nissan Leaf, Mario says he’s not using ePedal any more. He didn’t say why he has stopped using it, but it seems a shame not to use the ePedal. I always have ePedal switched on and the only time I’m not using it is when I’m using Pro Pilot Assist.

Knowledgeable Group of People


As you can see the drivers of the 2018 Nissan Leaf like to go into deep detail of inner workings of the car. For the most part I just drive it and enjoy it. I don’t fiddle about with it too much because I have not found myself in need of extra braking while wanting to slow down. So it’s working for me and as they say – “if it isn’t broke then don’t fix it.”

At the shopping centre again charging the car

I went again to the shopping centre where last time I was hassled by the security. This time I didn’t look quite so dodgy and didn’t get pulled over. I plugged into one of the two charging stations. On each station there is a Type 2 connector and also a Shuko connector. In the car I have both the granny charging cable and also my Type 2 cable. With the granny charging cable you’re only going to get about 3 kW charging speed. With the Type 2 the maximum is going to be around 6.6 kW. I suppose it’s handy to have the two charging sockets available even if the amount of power isn’t enhanced using the Type II charging point. It’s possible you only have the one cable with you so there being a choice of sockets is a good thing. The other charging variable is how much power the charging station will let you have. I checked with the Leaf Spy Pro app and saw I was getting less than 3 kW. The charging post is limited by the maximum amps available. It’s probably only got a 16 amp breaker compared to the 32 amp breaker I have with my EVSE at home. This is not really a problem when it comes to using a destination charger. Especially if the electric is free. I was able to plug in and use the Barcelona live card to activate the charging point. I stayed at the charger for more than two hours – It was a long shopping trip. It would have been much shorter if I was on my own. When we got back to the car the battery was at 100%. Excellent! I call that a result.

Tesla Model 3 Barcelona – Catalonia

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Disappointing Tesla Model 3 Day Trip to Barcelona

I was going to set off first thing in the morning, but it was raining and I didn’t fancy driving in the rain. The day cleared at about lunchtime so I thought “Why the hell not?”, got in the car and drove. I arrived in Barcelona at about 2 o’clock and parked in a shopping centre not too far away from the Tesla showroom. I had hoped to park in a parking space not too far away which had a charger. When I got there I found it was a charger for motorcycles and I couldn’t pull in. There were some chargers available in the shopping centre, but I didn’t know exactly where they were. I did think about moving the car after getting the full information for the charging points, but couldn’t be bothered. It was handier to charge my Leaf later at a Rapid. I couldn’t wait to see the Tesla Model 3 in the flesh.

Tesla Model 3

As I walked to the Tesla showroom I passed a couple of public rapid charging points in the street. They were not in use and I could have used those except I wouldn’t have had long enough for my visit to the Tesla place. With these public chargers you get just 30 minutes of parking and charging. Can’t complain, as the charging and parking is free.

In the Tesla Showroom

In the showroom there was a Model X just inside the doors with the Falcon wing doors open. It does look rather impressive. It’s a hell of a car for a hell of a lot of money. Next in the showroom was a gorgeous looking model S in white. Another fantastic looking car. Finally at the back of the showroom was a Model 3 in blue. Blue is my favourite colour and the car looked great. It didn’t look like a new car though. There were dirty marks in the foot wells and fingerprints all over it. I suppose you’d expect a lot of fingerprints on a car in a showroom. A bit of cleaning wouldn’t go amiss though. On the rear offside wheel there was a little bit of damage. A Dutch man coming in to look at the cars pointed this out to the salesman in the showroom. He didn’t seem too pleased. I was looking forward to taking photos and maybe shooting some video of the car.

What Gives – Tesla?

Imagine my disappointment when he told me the car was not available to be viewed inside it. The car was due to be moved from the showroom that day for whatever reason. He wouldn’t open the car to let me have a sit inside. It was as if somebody had bought the car. This is a little bit strange because the car is not available for sale in Europe yet. I had received an email from Tesla inviting me to go and view of a Model 3 in the showroom. I received a less than optimal welcome from Tesla in Barcelona. The salesman was pleasant enough and was happy to chat about the cars with me. On account of him living in the city he has no need of a car. He said if he was going to buy a car then it definitely would be a Tesla. That is quite understandable!

I took plenty of pictures with my camera of the Tesla Model 3 and I have to say it does look absolutely gorgeous. I think my own car, the 2018 Nissan Leaf is marvellous and sexy too. The Tesla Model 3 does take it to another level. It has sportier more aerodynamic lines than my Leaf. I don’t really have a need for the Tesla, but I want one. The longer range would be nice even though my bodily function range is taken care of by my Nissan Leaf. I need to stop about every 100 to 150 km to take a break. Stopping for charging points to fill the battery of my Nissan Leaf works very well for me. He said 500km was possible in the Tesla Model 3. More range is always good when you are on the longer trips.

Tesla Model 3

The inside of the Tesla Model 3

I was able to peek in through the windows and inside the Model 3 does look extremely minimal. I like it because it looks quite classy. Having one large instrument screen in the middle of the car dashboard would work well for me. Even so, I think I’d be grateful to have some sort of heads up display for behind the steering wheel. If Tesla don’t put one in, then I’m sure some aftermarket manufacturer will come up with something. It’s a shame I couldn’t sit inside the car because it’s always nice to test the seating position. You want to know if it feels comfortable or not. Some car seats are comfortable straightaway. Some take a little while to get used to, but are comfortable once you have done so. There are some car seats which are always going to be uncomfortable. If I could have sat inside the car I could have had a better feel for the car. Would have liked to experience the feeling you get from the glass roof. Should make it feel extremely light, spacious and airy.

Tesla Model 3

What next for the Model 3?

As far as I’m concerned then there is a possibility if there is another Model 3 available to be viewed properly in Barcelona I might go back and visit. Or I might just wait until they are available to have a test drive. Everyone says when you have a test drive you are completely sold. Everybody who’s bought one of these cars completely loves it. I’ll keep in touch with the Barcelona Tesla showroom and maybe they’ll just send me another email when they have another car in there available to look at. Next time I’ll ring up first and double check with them to see if they’re going to display the Tesla Model 3 fully.

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EV Public Charging – In Charge in France

EV public charging France – All the Options

On one of my first trips to France with my electric car, my 2018 Nissan Leaf I got a little bit worried about EV public charging. I wasn’t able to charge the car at the Nissan dealer in Perpignan due to it being closed for lunch. I didn’t have the right card for charging at the large shopping centre either. So I continued on my journey towards my chosen destination a little further north of Perpignan. I was feeling sure one of the RFID cards I had would let me charge. As it turned out, the one I thought would work, didn’t. I started to sweat a little bit, wondering if I was going to have to call out the flatbed truck. I got lucky with the Newmotion RFID card which I had recently acquired. Nice to have a little bit of luck when you really need it. So I was able to plug-in, get something to eat in the Double Dutch café and then continue on my journey. Trip to Leucate.

Thank goodness for Newmotion

I also used the Newmotion RFID card on another trip to France when I connected to another CHAdeMO charger. This was on my trip to Quillan which is on the other side of the Pyrenees from where I live. That was the trip where I decided to make a little detour to the top of the mountain to Les Angles. Drove up a delightful small winding road to arrive in the middle of a thunderstorm. On the way down from the top of the mountain on the other side, but still going towards Perpignan I was able to pull into another charger at Villefranche de Conflent. That one was a slow charging point, type II Mennekes and again I was able to use the Newmotion card. The battery of the car really didn’t need much, if any charge, but I wanted to try out this other Réveo electric vehicle charge post.

My latest trip to France to a small town called Céret

On my way my first stop was to the Nissan dealers at Figueres which is the town of Salvador Dali. On this occasion I didn’t go into the centre of town, instead I went to the Nissan dealer on the outskirts. A good choice for Nissan EV public charging. First of all I was happy to see the CHAdeMO charging machine was not hidden away inside a workshop or the compound of the dealership. This makes it more useful as you can get to it 24/7 and I didn’t even need to put in any code to use it. I stayed there for 20 to 30 minutes before deciding to continue on my journey towards France. When the dealership is open it’s useful to be able to use the facilities which were clean and pleasant to use. So onwards towards France, steering clear of the motorway for a more enjoyable drive. There were huge tailbacks on the motorway going into France due to roadworks on the motorway bridge at the border.

Autumn driving an electric vehicle through the foothills of the Pyrenees

The day turned quite dull but this just made the autumn leaves look even more spectacular. Some parts of the mountain were covered in low cloud making it a fairly dark day. I didn’t care because I had a nearly fully charged electric car. My rear end and the small of my back was delightfully warm due to the seat heater. The cabin of the car was also fairly warm due to the efficient heating of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. Interesting roads to drive on and my comfort level was high, just perfect. With the sort of roads I was driving on there was no need to use the Pro Pilot Assist. I had made use of that technology while on the straighter, less interesting roads on the way towards the border with France. Now I was into enjoying the E pedal technology and not having to touch the brakes hardly at all. When I arrived at Ceret the GPS took me through narrow village type roads to get to the old centre where the car park is containing the EV public charging point.

Each EV charging point seems different from the last

Aside from the fact the charge points of difference when some have DC charging and others only have AC charging, there’s such a lot of difference between models. Some are activated using a QR code, others need an RFID card, some are activated by an app and one or two you can just plug in. The ones you can just plug-in are generally the free ones and I like those the best. So take some time to get used to all the different types of EV public charging equipment out on the road.

The charge point in Ceret was another new style of charger for me to use. The network was Reveo and the charger contained two type 2 Mennekes sockets and two of the Shuko sockets. I expected the type to sockets to be up to 22 kWh, but I was wrong. I only discovered this when looking at the details on the website later. The car was only charging at 3.7 kWh which was very slow indeed. It’s exactly the same as the maximum as you get from the Shuko sockets.

The cost of charging electric vehicles using EV public charging

One of my reasons for the trip to France on this occasion was to test the new card I got from Sodetrel/Izivia. There was a small screen at the front of the charge point. I first needed to put the RFID card next to the screen. I somehow carelessly managed to touch the flag for Germany. So I had to put up with all of the instructions being in German. I can understand German but I would prefer English for the first time using this electric vehicle charger. It’s recognised my card and I could move on to the next stage which was to plug-in. It took me a while to realise I had to fully close the door covering the sockets before the charging would initiate. After a little bit of head scratching I managed to get the thing working. It was time to go and have a wander around the town.

One of the good things about having an electric vehicle is that you have to stop and spend time in a place. Usually it’s necessary to take breaks for food, drink and natural requirements. Often this is all the time you need, especially with the rapid DC charging. It’s often welcome to take a break and stretch your legs. I was glad of a chance to have a walk around the town. I found a supermarket where I could buy some apples and have something to eat. The rest of my walk around the town was pure discovery. I was happy to find a small art gallery who are setting up an exhibition for the next day. They still let me into look at the work even though it wasn’t officially open. I would have visited the Museum of modern Art which was totally unexpected in such a small town. Unfortunately, it was closed due to it being a Monday. I have to go back and visit on another day of the week. I even spotted another small art gallery on my travels. I think I spent about 40 minutes walking around the place and I got back to the car and started my journey back home.

I wuz Robbed…

It was when I got back home I saw on the website for my account how much the charging had cost. I had paid €4.50 for just a small amount of electricity. The reason for the high cost per kilowatt-hour was due to there being an initial charge to activate the charger, followed by a per minute charge. With such a slow rate of charge it can get quite expensive per kilowatt-hour with this type of charging. The Reveo charges if you don’t have a subscription which costs €12 per year charges €3 to initiate the charge. With a subscription this comes down to €1.50. There is still a charge per minute from 7 AM in the morning until 9 PM in the evening, but during the night time you can avoid the per minute pricing.

Reveo EV public charging is a network contained within the Izivia group which covers the whole of France and some other countries. I have downloaded the app so I can use Reveo chargers directly although there are some which only will activate with the RFID card. I’m not going to get a subscription even though it’s effectively only one euro per month because I don’t go to France that often. If you live in France it would definitely be worth it.

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The truth about using electric vehicle public chargers

For the most part most of us won’t be using EV public charging very often. 90 to 95% of our charging is done at home or work. We can plug-in our car at night time and wake up the next morning with a fully charged battery ready to go. Even so, we still want to see reasonably priced charging options available for the occasions where we do need to travel further afield. I have seen petrol stations which are charging $0.30 per kilowatt-hour which is reasonable. The IBIL chargers in Spain have a set up/initial charge plus a cost for how much electric you put into your battery. I’ll probably have to use more of these when I do my tour around Spain and Portugal.

Plugging in at the dealerships

If you have a Nissan you can plug in at some Nissan dealerships. I have encountered to dealership so far were they have claimed the CHAdeMO charging point was not working. Nissan should be making sure these charges are properly available. I would like to see Nissan making available Type II chargers in accessible positions so they can be used 24/7 by Nissan Leaf drivers. It would make buying an electric vehicle a much more promising proposition. Electric cars do cost more to buy and so we do need to have the savings in the running costs. We need good EV public charging options.

Travelling home from France

After getting across the Spanish border I pulled into the shopping centre at La Jonquera. There are four well marked electric vehicle charging points just as you pull into the parking area underneath the shopping centre. I toyed with the idea of plugging in. In the end I didn’t bother and I parked elsewhere in the parking area. I am intended to run in quickly use the facilities and to run out again. It wasn’t worth the effort in getting the cable out of the boot of the car.

EV public charging

One more stop on the way home for a bit of EV public charging. Again it was necessary to pull in to find some facilities and also to add some juice into the car. I stopped at the Girona North Electric vehicle charging point. I have the card from the Ajuntament to use this one for free. You can stay for 30 minutes, which I did, using the CHAdeMO connector. As I pulled into the car park there was a Hyundai Ioniq plugged into the charger in one of the two bays. It wasn’t charging so I can assume he had gone over the 30 minute limit. There was a car in the second charging bay. I get lucky and only had to wait less than a minute in order for that paid to become available so I could pull in and connect my car. It’s not a bad place to stop. There is a supermarket there, so often you’ll be able to get provisions as necessary. There is also a café next to the supermarket as well as other bars and restaurants not too far away. With 30 minutes of charging I had more than enough to get home. I probably could have got home without stopping, at least as far as the battery of the car was concerned. By taking the free electricity out on the road I was able to reduce the amount of electricity needed to bring the car back up to full charge using my home charger during the night.

My costs for the daytrip

My first stop for charging the vehicle battery in Rosie my 2018 Nissan Leaf was free. The cost for stopping and charging in Ceret was €4.50. The cost to bring the battery back up to 100% was about one euro. So it only cost me about €5.50 to drive 237 km. That seems like a bargain to me!

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Gen 2 Nissan Leaf Owners Group on Facebook – News

News from the Generation 2 Nissan Leaf owners group

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First of all a big congratulations to Chris Duncan who picked up his new leaf yesterday. He has a 19 SL and loves it to pieces. The Nissan Leaf does look rather nice in white. I nearly bought a white one myself when I was trying to get a car from a different dealer due to delays and poor service from where I did actually buy the car. We’ll be looking forward to hearing stories of first impressions and trips made with the new car.

Working with the charging timers

Jennifer is asking if anybody knows a way to set the end time for charging timers. I’m surprised Jennifer is asking this because she is highly competent with technical stuff to do with her Nissan Leaf. I know it is possible to set an end time for the charging. I’m not sure how the setting of an end timer is going to make much difference due to the variability of how much is left in the battery when it’s plugged in. If you have the start timer set to 10 PM and you have 60% in the battery then it’s going to be finished much sooner than if you plug-in with 20% in the battery.

You would need to have some sort of automation which could recognise how much was in the battery and would change the start time as necessary. Jennifer wants the battery to still be warm from the charging just before departure. This will allow her to get more miles driving on cold days.

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I think the only way around this at the moment is to know how long it takes to charge from a specific percentage level of the battery. Then adjust the start time to take into account this detail. I suppose the other possibility would be to store the car inside a garage and maybe even have some heating on the go. I suspect that heating a garage would be too expensive to make it worthwhile as a solution.

Lower range for the winter

We know already that with the higher range models which have the 18 inch wheels you get less range than with the 17 inch wheels. If you had snow tyres, falling wet snow, wipers, wet roads, highway speeds, heating the cabin, heating the seat and using their headlights more could have an effect upon the range. Possibly.

The wipers, the headlights, seat heater work from the 12 V battery and therefore might not have any effect upon the range. I know when I switch on the seat heater I don’t see a difference in the guess-o-meter on my electric car. I’d say it is more likely the combination of the larger wheels with the snow tyres, the driving speed and the road conditions making all the difference.

When I start the air conditioning or heating in the car I find there is only a difference of between 6 and 9 km. I think I’d say the answer Michael is going to have to go with is to drive slower and take into account the conditions of the road. It’ll be safer as well as him being able to drive further than 90 miles on a full charge.

Tyre rotation

Marcus Collings is asking how often people rotate their tyres. This seems to be a thing that people like to do with the Nissan Leaf. It’s something I’ve never done on previous cars I’ve owned. Maybe I should have done so. It’s certainly going to be the case you are going to get more wear on the two front tyres and especially if you like to put your foot down on the happy pedal. It is so tempting to get that big smile on your face due to the magnificent acceleration.

Thomas says he will rotate all four tyres every 7500 miles has put the manual. He says he’s got 43,000 miles on the original tyres so he must be doing something right. He also says if you go more than 12,000 before rotating the tires they will wear unevenly and need premature replacing. Marcus has changed the tyres around on his car after hitting 11,000 km.

Jodie Brisson has gone for the comedy element with the reply that her tyres rotate thousands of times per day. Nice one! You’ve got to have a little bit of a giggle sometimes.

David Laur says he rotates his tyres every 5000 miles. Kari Lee and Bruce Clift do the rotation when switching between Summer and Winter tyres. Winter tyres he switches front to back on the same side and the summer tyres straight forward and cross to the rear. Complicated or what?? Joseph Wammes says he never rotates tyres and Alan Stenson asks why.

The charging port being left open

Bill Farmer posted about his charging port. When he finished charging he thought he’d closed the door to the charging point. As you’re driving along 4 miles later the wind caught it and it popped open. I’ve done this a couple of times myself. When I’ve done it is because I have not pushed the door in fully enough to have it catch properly. After the first time of doing this I promised myself I would be more careful and yet it did happen one more time. I obviously needed more of a reminder. It is easily done and there isn’t any sort of switch which gives you any reminder that you haven’t loaded properly. The main thing is to not panic and to pull up safely and push it firmly closed. Jason Aspinall thinks that it’s not particularly dangerous, it only works as a mini airbrake. It totally messes up the aerodynamics of the car. Steve Brailsford and Jason Munion are of the opinion that it is possible to accidentally press the button on the key fob. I don’t keep the key fob in my pocket so that’s unlikely to be the reason in my case. He was just a case of getting forgetful in my old age! Jorge Izia Mendes seems to think the issue might be solved with a little bit of silicon spray upon the mechanism. I can’t see how that’s going to make a difference myself it’s just a case of making sure you push it firmly closed.

The child locks on the rear doors

Julian Hüsing had a problem where he had travelled just few miles with some friends. Apparently they were not able to open the rear door by themselves. It seems this can amount because the child lock had been switched on. There is a mechanical switch on the door and maybe he had the same problem as Nick Hoehler. His son drags his backpack against the latch and is constantly locking himself in. That seems like a good safety feature to me.

I have my car set so that all the doors lock when I’m driving at 15 km/h. It seems to switch on quicker than that though. I now have it set so they will unlock automatically when I put the car into Park. Previously I had it set so that it switched off the door locks when I switched off the car. If you are driving in an area which is a little bit dodgy it could be safer to have it switch off when you turn off the car. I changed it to switching off when I going to park because my wife is always complaining that she can’t get into the car when I put up to let her in.

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

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

EV road trip

Big EV Road Trip

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

The Arty Party in St. Feliu de Guíxols

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

Peppa Poch Artist

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

Rosie Says Clean Me – I’m A Dirty Girl

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

Nissan Leaf 2018

Then it Rained – Typical…

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

Still Couldn’t Escape The House

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

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

Keeping Up The Pressure – Tyre Pressure

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

Pumping Gunk Into The Tyre

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

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

Keep The Weight Down

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

Rosie at the Beach

ExpoElectric Barcelona 2018

Expo Electric Barcelona 2018

Tesla Model S

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

 

All Sorts Of Electric Scooters

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

Not Just About Cars

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

Zero Motorbike

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

Vectrix

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

Beautiful Cars And Ugly Ducklings

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

Ugly car

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

Jaguar i Pace

EV Curious People

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

Hyundai Kona Electric

Rapid Charger Drama? Nissan Leaf goes to the mountains

Following a successful trip to the mountains the week before and having worries about whether the car would make it over the top we set out once again. The worries came about due to the lack of destination chargers in the town where we were staying, or any of the towns nearby. The worry was also due to the need to climb 600 m before commencing the downhill section. In the end, the worries were baseless and unnecessary worrying about nothing. They’re just part of the learning process you go through when you’re a new electric vehicle owner. You have niggling little worries because you don’t want to end up stuck someplace with nothing left in the battery. You’re still not sure about how the terrain and other factors such as a headwind might affect your cars range. The good thing about going on these trips is it doesn’t take too long to get past having these concerns. A car with a nominal range of between 240 and 280 km is pretty easy to live with if you do your planning for the rapid charger .

Driving the Nissan Leaf 2018 and loving it

Once you’ve got your Nissan Leaf it soon becomes a case of true love. You want to get out and go places just so you can get in the Leaf and drive. When you have days off from work the only thing you want to do is to go someplace. If there isn’t a town, city or special point of interest on your list of journeys to make you can just pick rapid chargers you want to test out. I did this when I first got the car and I still have a couple of trips where I’ll do the same. I went out one evening to Lloret de Mar just to have a look at the charging point in the town. I was partially successful with the first one I found, it was working and I could have used it. It was just the worker at the petrol station where it was situated was really busy and was struggling with the software to start it. I really didn’t have an absolute need to charge so I let her off the hook. I did go looking for the other free but slow charger down by the seafront. I cruised up and down the maritime passage and I didn’t spot it. I was able to find it later by looking at the map and the photographs in the app. It was kind of hidden by the maelstrom of tourists wandering around and the cars parked. It’s possible it had been iced making it more difficult for me to find on that trip. I’ll get it another day.

DC Charging

Nissan Leaf 2018 trip to the mountain part 2

We went to stay in the same hotel as we stayed in the week before. This was a no-brainer of a decision due to the good price and excellent room. There was also the fact there were still more things to see and visit in the area. The previous week the first stop traveling was at a charger in the north of Olot. It was okay in as much as it worked fine and there was a café nearby. It wasn’t a particularly nice café, so this time we drove past it to go to the other rapid charger in the town. It’s not a huge town and it was only about five or 10 minutes to get to the other charger.



The rapid charger at the south of the city is one I’ve tried before. I’ve been there twice and the first time was successful. Both occasions I was trying to use the Girona electric vehicle card. The first time it worked and the second time it didn’t. I was determined to try it again because it’s a good place to stop as the restaurant next to it is worth a visit. The restaurant even caters for vegetarians and vegans. Top marks from me! I’m a vegetarian and proud of it.

Parking in the right space for the cables

So I pulled up to the charging point in the parking place to the right of the rapid charger. I learned a lesson in there I found out the charging point to the left is better when you’re using the CHAdeMO plug. I was able to plug the lead into the car but I had to route the cable round the back of the charger. The space to the left was available but I couldn’t be bothered to move the car. I got the sequence of charger setup in the right order and we were in business. It’s best to use the card to check authorisation to use machine first. Then to follow the instructions for plugging in and once plugged in pressing the button on screen to start the charge. My wife and I were delighted when the charging started and we could go and get some food.

On Charge

Rapidgate Vapidgate…

Before going into the restaurant I jumped back into the car because out of interest I wanted to see what level of charge was going into the car. I was impressed to see it was going in at 42 kW. The car was completely unaffected by the drive from home and the supposed Rapidgate problem. It was a fairly warm day although not blisteringly hot. The number of kilometres from home to the charger was not huge either. We arrived with 60% in the battery approximately. I left the vehicle and charged for about 30 or 40 minutes to put in about 16 or 17% into the battery. This got me back up to nearly full and plenty for the rest of the journey. Also good to take advantage of this public charger in Olot because it was free to charge. The charger at the other end of town is also free. Not only that, only five minutes away from the charger we were using is another one at the Nissan dealership. Also a free rapid charger, so another thumbs up.

The drive from Olot to Vilallonga

The road climbs up the Pyrenees and is a fairly gradual climb. I think the percentage on the road is around about 5%, maybe 6%. I was enjoying the scenery and I kept my foot light on the accelerator pedal. I did make use of the Powermeter for the 2018 Nissan Leaf. As much as possible I tried to keep the powermeter in the eco-zone. To keep to a reasonable speed it was necessary to go past eco occasionally especially seeing as we were going uphill. Due to this economic usage of the energy while driving up the mountain we arrived in Vilallonga de Ter with 75% in the battery. With this trip we had no plan to drive to the top of the mountain to get to the other side. The itinerary for the next day was to go walking for the morning and to get into the car in the afternoon. Not expecting to do an awful lot of driving around the area. Loads of electric in the battery for the trip. No restrictions due the battery and lack of destination chargers.

Visiting the Rock – La Roca

There’s a walk which starts under the trees by the river in Vilallonga and I expected the walk to continue along by the river. It didn’t and after a little while started to climb upwards. I hadn’t realised until then La Roca was up a hill going away from the river. So it was a good bit of exercise and a great way to start the day. The town is really picturesque and is a small warren of paths in between old stone houses. Farmers would have lived there in the past and now it looks like it’s for holidaymakers. It could be possible to continue walking from there towards Camprodon, but we decided to head back the route we came. This would give us time to go and visit another small town to the north on the same road, Setcases.

La Roca

Small amount of electric energy used to drive to Setcases

The name of the town means seven houses, but there’s a lot more than that there now. There’s a river to the other side of the road and the town is just awash with bars and restaurants. This is to service the needs of the summer tourists in the mountains for walking and hiking. It’s also for those coming down from the mountain ski resort during the wintertime. Despite being spoilt for choice for places to eat we decided to wait until we got to Camprodon. The town was typical of what you’d expect from a Spanish Pyrenees village and well worth a visit. Only used about 5% of the battery to get to Setcases. Leaving there it was downhill back towards our next point of interest.

Setcases

Camprodon and the sweet smell of bakeries

I found myself wishing I had the smell-a-vision enabled on my camera because all of the sweet smells of the pastry shops. It was difficult to walk past any of them without wanting to go in and buy something. The town has an iconic bridge which is tall and pointy. We walked over bridge to get to the main part of the town where all the shops are. Two rivers enter the town and one flows out and there are plenty of bridges over the rivers. The view from one of the bridges is very reminiscent of the view in Girona and the famous river houses. Surprisingly, there were fewer restaurants in this larger town and it took a while to find one which suited our culinary needs. In the centre of the town you have small old-style narrow roads. In the outskirts it’s more wide roads lined with trees. Pretty town and well worth a visit.

Camprodon

Less driving this week and time to head home

Due to having to start work early the next day we left for home mid-afternoon. The plan was to go back to Olot to fill up again, both the face and the battery of the car. While we were enjoying tasty ice creams the car was taking in electricity at 44 kW. It was going in even faster than with the previous visit on the way to the mountains.

This week there was no worrying about whether we had enough battery range to get to places. On the return trip I could decide whether to put some extra charge into the car in Olot or in Girona. I wanted to use Girona because I would have less to travel home and I would keep more of the free electric to use for later in the week. Ice cream considerations made the decision. In all, I added about 33 kW of energy to the battery for free and so the journey to the mountains and back probably cost in the region of two or three euro. This is one of the excellent advantages of owning an electric vehicle. While the electric vehicle rapid charger infrastructure in Spain is still not the best compared to other countries, at least some of what is there for the moment is free. I’m able to use the free electric vehicle charge card from Girona or Barcelona in much of Catalonia. While it costs more to buy the car it is incredibly cheap to run.

Wondering what the charging infrastructure is like in the rest of the country

I use the PlugShare app as my go to application on my iPhone for finding electric car charging points. This shows there are a fair few charging points around the country, but it doesn’t give the full picture. For example you could easily arrive in town expecting to use a rapid charger and finding you need a specific card. Like in Sant Cugat de Vallés, near Barcelona. This specific card might only be available from the council offices during the opening times. I get the impression that in France the coverage of truly public electric car charging points is better. Even if those charging points are the 22 kW charging posts more suitable for the Renault Zoe. I can’t make full use of these charging points due to the hardware limitation of the car allowing it to only slurp electrons in at about 6 kW. I’d like to see faster AC charging in the next Nissan Leaf. I’d prefer it if it would be possible to retrofit such a charging possibility into the 2018 Nissan Leaf as I have now. It would be a huge improvement especially seeing as those charging posts charge on a per minute basis. It would effectively make the charging up to three times cheaper.

Renault Zoe spotted the other day.

Renault Zoe

Rapid Charging around Spain in the 2018 Nissan Leaf

I have a vague plan to head south from my home in Catalonia in the direction of the south of the peninsula. I’d like to do in the region of 400 to 500 km per day charging at various points along the journey. I want to visit places I haven’t yet been to in Spain such as Seville, Granada, Santander and Bilbao as well as to drive through Portugal. This is going to be a real test of the charging infrastructure in Spain. To a large extent I expect to be visiting Nissan dealers to use the rapid charger. I’ll hope they are in working order and not like the one at the dealership where I bought my car. I also prefer it if these charges are more publicly available like the one in Olot and not hidden away inside workshops or compounds. For example you can’t use the one in the Nissan dealership in Perpignan when the place is closed; it’s locked away in the compound. I know of three of these rapid chargers in Barcelona which are locked away inside the workshop.

rapid charger in Perpignan

Oh where can you find electric sockets?

The other charging opportunities will be to use the electricity available in campsites and bed-and-breakfast, hostel accommodation. I might even have to resort to asking to plug in at a bar or restaurant while I’m eating. It feels like it’s going to be a bit of an adventure and I’m looking forward to the trip with only a small amount of trepidation. It’s not as if electricity is scarce like it would be if you were travelling around Africa. There are always homes and businesses with plug sockets available. There’s always the possibility of knocking on a door and asking to pay for some time plugged into a normal household plug socket. That would be slow charging and there would probably be a certain amount of education required. People would not necessarily know how much would be the right amount to ask for or to accept. The electric is only going to go in at around about 3 kW per hour so you could need quite some time plugged in to get enough to complete your journey. I’m sure some people would think it would cost an arm and a leg to fill up a electric car battery. They might not even believe me when I tell them it only costs me approximately three euro for a full charge at home. I am making use of a night-time charging rate of 7.3 eurocents per kilowatt-hour. If I charge during the daytime the price is 15.1 eurocents per kilowatt-hour so it’s a good thing I have a timer set up in the car so the charging happens between 11 o’clock at night and 1 o’clock midday. It’s during the afternoon and evening where I’d have to pay more. These hours change slightly during the wintertime so from the end of October I’ll be able to start the charging one hour earlier. Not everyone has a dual tariff like I have.

It’s a rosy rapid charger future for electric vehicles

This is especially the case when you have a car which you have named Rosie. One of the applications I have on my phone now, will send me a message to tell me of a new electric vehicle rapid charger point. They were coming in fairly regularly and I think I may have turned off the notifications for the moment. It leads me to think the situation for electric vehicle charging will continue to improve in Spain as well as in the whole of Europe. We need to have a company like the one I found in France, Reveo or the company in the UK called Ecotricity which are strategically placing chargers. There is no need for range anxiety if you have a reasonable amount of range in your car and sufficient places along routes where you can recharge. It’s still going to be a need for the next couple of years for the infrastructure to build up. Where at the moment it might be a little bit of an adventure to venture too far away from home, is not always going to be that way.

Rosie the Nissan Leaf

A pioneer of Electric vehicle ownership

I’m aware that at this time we are at the forefront of electric vehicle usage. This is a good thing in one way. There are more free chargers out there now than there will be in the future. You have to love a free rapid charger. The more the situation is normalised the less there will be encouragement from local and national government. I’m prepared to take the rough with the smooth by being a pioneer and front-runner with electric car ownership.

Regeneration Charging and Destination Charging

I started the trip with about 95% battery. I normally start with 100% but this time I didn’t leave first thing in the morning. I got back from work and put the car on charge for about half an hour and there was only 95% when it was time to leave. My plan was to drive as far as Olot and get a top up charge. So we headed in the direction of Girona, pleased to see the roads were still clear. Usually, late on a Sunday, the roads get completely filled with traffic leaving the beaches of the Costa Brava. The Sun was still shining and they hadn’t left the beaches yet. It was smooth sailing all the way to Olot. Onwards for some destination charging.
The rapid charger was easy to find. This was at the north of the city and we haven’t used this one before. I’ve used the other two Chademo chargers in Olot. There is one at the Nissan dealership which is just down the road from the other public charger at the restaurant by the roundabout. I used the Nissan dealership on my previous visit to the town. This was because the charger at the restaurant didn’t activate so I couldn’t use it as before. I’ll try that one again next time and give it a go with the Barcelona Electric Vehicle charging I now have. The last time I was trying with the Girona electric vehicle card. Weird the way it worked one time and then not the next. Such is the way of the world of RFID cards.

The car said No…

Stayed for about 35 minutes and I added around about 15 kWh to the battery. It was on the second try when I got the charger to work. The first time didn’t go well because I got the order of set up incorrect – possibly. The machine activated but the car said no. So I disconnected and started again from the start and the second time around everything went smoothly. The car was charging at about 32 kW which was pretty good. It would’ve been nice if you could have gone in at the maximum 44 to 48 kW. It was long enough for us to get a drink of Coke in the cafe nearby. It was another chance to see a slice of life from the town we were visiting for the charging. The people inside the cafe restaurant were playing cards noisily and a little girl was cutting up a cardboard box to make something or other. Her dad was telling her off and she wasn’t interested. She just ignored him. It was quite funny to watch. A couple of young boys were playing on the fruit machine, wasting their money. There was another restaurant nearby although it was only a kebab place and I didn’t like the look of it. One more cafe in the vicinity but it wasn’t open. I was surprised it was closed but it didn’t really matter in the end. We could just have easily sat in the car, we had snacks and drinks anyway.

Charge Points Improvements Needed

It would be nice to see some of these charging points with some sort of covering. To save us sitting in the Sun while charging the car. It would be even better if these canopies included solar panels. It seems like these charging points would be the perfect place to situate used electric car batteries. They might not be any more use for electric vehicle but perfect for jobs such as this.

On the Road Again

Left the charger in Olot with plenty of battery. We headed towards the mountains. Still very little traffic on the road so the drive was easy. The countryside getting more interesting the further we got away from the Mediterranean Costa Brava. Good to see the landscape getting greener due to different types of trees. I waited until we arrived in Vilallonga de Ter where the hostel was situated before setting the GPS to find the place. It wasn’t easy to find first of all because it was tucked away down a small alleyway. Then the place wasn’t open and the owners were not answering the telephones. Fortunately we only had to wait for about 20 minutes before a little lady turned up to let us in and show us our room. I was a little bit despondent and frustrated during the waiting time. I was thinking the place was completely closed and we would lose our money on the booking. Thought we’d have to go and book somewhere else. I wasn’t happy at the thought of wasting money in that way. When I booked the room I asked if it would be possible to charge the car. When we arrived we could immediately see it wasn’t going to be possible. There was no parking right next to the place and we were parked about half a kilometre away. I don’t think I was going to run a cable that distance. Even so, I still had 73% left in the battery and so was time to work out if I’d have enough to go the next leg of the journey. There were no public chargers in the town. There was one in the next town, allegedly, but when I sent a message to the owner of the charger I didn’t receive a reply. Lucky I didn’t need it for the trip.

Still a bit of an electric vehicle newbie

In the evening I was having discussions with my wife about the trip. To be honest she’s a little bit negative still about electric vehicles and the charging capabilities. Still thinks it’s necessary to have a car with 500 km of battery range. She could be partly right if things don’t improve with the charging network here in Spain. It is still early days for electric cars in some countries. I used to be a little bit worried about travelling across the border into France and finding charge points. Not any more! Now I have the NewMotion card I’m confident I have enough range to get from one charger to another. The only problem is most of the chargers tend to be the one suitable for the Renault Zoe. A Zoe can charge at up to 22 kW AC which is fairly fast charging although not quite to the level of CHAdeMO or CCS. Unfortunately, the Nissan Leaf can only take in about 6 kW from these chargers. This is only as fast as I can charge the car using the level II charger at home. It can still be quite useful for this type of grazing charging in between the CHAdeMO charges.

Don’t Worry Be Happy

So bearing in mind a level of worry regards having enough battery range to reach the top of the mountain and then onwards to the first charging point available on the other side, there was some worrying to be done. It turned out I was worrying about nothing and my plan was going to work out. At one point I had thought about giving up the route across the mountain and going in the other direction completely. If I’d been able to do some destination charging at the hotel my level of confidence would have been higher.

How much range do you need in an electric car?

If you have a large battery it’s extra weight for the car to carry. It’s also extra time needed to charge that battery. The right size of battery is one which gives you enough kilometres to complete your journey without worry. This is going to depend upon the charging infrastructure along the routes to your destinations. To go some places within Spain it would be better to have the Tesla with a larger battery and longer range. Or a better, cheaper possibility would be the Hyundai Kona. One example of this Problem would be the drive from Zaragoza to Madrid. At present there isn’t a charge point at the halfway point between these two cities. It would be necessary to make phone calls to tourist information points in the towns on the route to ask for specific help. You need to find if there is a restaurant, bar or whatever type of public plug socket available in order to get some charge into the car. Maybe it will be possible to pull into a campsite or you’d have to stay overnight in hotel which offered whatever charging facilities.
destination charging
The scarcity of chargers will be eliminated over time. There is the chicken and the egg situation with the electric cars and charge points. Fortunately more people are buying electric vehicles and someone is bound to see the light and start building a network of electric charge points throughout the country. This has already happened in countries such as France, Germany and the UK. Some cities within Spain are adding public chargers, some to look after the citizens of the city and some for general public use by passing traffic. The public chargers for the citizens of the city tend to need an RFID card you can apply for locally. These are not much use if you arrive in the town in need of a charge and you don’t have the card. Some businesses and companies are working on the basis of providing charge points to encourage electric vehicle drivers to visit. Restaurants and hotels get business from the people waiting while their car charges up. Even supermarkets have added various levels of charge point to encourage people to use their facilities.

Does the 2018 Nissan Leaf have enough range?

I would have to agree my wife at the moment to say that the 2018 Nissan Leaf could do with more range. You could say that 95% to 99% of the journeys made by a Spanish driver a Nissan Leaf would be more than enough. It’s the longer trips and you have to make detailed plans when you start to wonder. It sometimes necessary to have a plan B and maybe even a plan C. I have already run into situations where a charger I wanted to use wasn’t working for me. I had other options when this happened. If worst comes to worse there’s always the option of knocking on someone’s door and asking to plug-in. Failing that you drive as far as you can and then call the flatbed truck of shame to get you to the next charging point. Only needs more range here because the Spanish as a bit slow to roll out the infrastructure. That all seems a little bit negative, but on the other hand there are many plus points to having an electric vehicle. I’m prepared to be at the forefront of technology and being an early EV adopter. This way I get to see more of the benefits of having an electric car. The running costs are extremely low. Low in terms of cost of energy to propel the car. Low in terms of negligible maintenance required due to the absence of so many moving parts as you’d find in a combustion engine. It’s impossible for me to have an unbiased view of the merits of my Nissan Leaf. I love the car and its technology and I’m prepared to put up with the range/charging infrastructure conundrum as it is at the present time. It’s without a doubt the best car I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned quite a few, including a few good ones. If money wasn’t a consideration then I’m sure I would just go and buy a Tesla. The use case I have for an electric car doesn’t make a Tesla a good option for me. My finances simply wouldn’t stretch to one of those and I don’t really need one either. I could have stayed with perfectly acceptable ICE car I had for 4 years before the Leaf. Not what I wanted though. Running a non-polluting car with fantastic technology is more important to me. I’m loving the trips out to test the capabilities of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The future looks great for Electric vehicles!

Driving down the mountain

The road down the mountain was fairly slow for driving with lots of bends to negotiate. This meant I was able to get lots of battery regeneration. I started off with about 160 km of range and at the bottom of the mountain I had about 240 km. That’s a significant amount of charging using regeneration from the motor to the battery. So we arrived at the Reveo type 2 Mennekes charging point at the back of some shops in Saint Jean Pla de Corts and I used the NewMotion card to activate the charging point. You’ll see how it’s done in the video. The charge was going in at around 5 kW or 6 kW which is the limit for the onboard charger in the Nissan Leaf. We stayed there for about an hour and the charge cost me €3.09. It was at the right time during the day because it was lunchtime. It was good to time the charging for when we expected to be doing some eating. So what if you spend an hour charging the car. You are doing something else is not like you were standing at the petrol pump holding the filler to put in dinosaur juice for that amount of time. I can’t see why people would complain about the time it takes to charge a car in this situation. At the end of the charging period, I had more than enough to get me all the way back home. No range anxiety was felt at any point of time after reaching the top of the mountain. I drove home on the non-motorway roads just because it was a more interesting drive and I wasn’t in a hurry. Even with going faster and using the battery less economically by going on a motorway I would still have had enough to get home without worrying.
destination charger

No stress driving

I didn’t drive as far as with the last trip where I did 500 km in one day. On this trip, I drove 300 km split over two days. I arrived back at the house still as fresh as a daisy due to the assistance of the 2018 Nissan Leaf driving technology. Pro Pilot Assist is still useful to use on the national roads especially when used in conjunction with the E.pedal. I love using pro pilot when I’m in slow-moving traffic. Just a quick press on the reset button on the steering wheel to get moving again. I don’t even need to press the button if the stop has been less than three seconds. Not having to mess about switching from the accelerator to the brake pedal also makes for less stress when driving.

Already planning the next trip

This still more to visit and see in the mountains. For the next trip in the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be stopping at the same mountain village. The hotel we stayed at was so good and with a good price, it’s worth going to again. Next time will be going to look at some other nearby towns we didn’t see on this trip.