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 a 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 charge 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 on-board 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 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.

Nissan Leaf Accessories – Are they worth the money?

Sometimes I’m quite dumbfounded by the need some have to buy various Nissan Leaf Accessories for the car. When you’ve already spent a pile of money buying a top quality, top of the range and well designed car why spend more money on extra bits and pieces. I can understand if it’s something that’s going to be useful or functional in one way or another, but when it is just to slightly enhance the look, I have to wonder. If it’s a matter of just a couple of dollars or euros, then why not. If it’s to the point of spending a few hundred or thousands of Euros and it doesn’t have any useful function then I am flabbergasted.

What about Wheels?

Buying another set of wheels just because you think they look better than the originals is probably a waste of money. Obviously if you have that amount of money and it’s burning a hole in your pocket then go for it. It’s your money and it’s completely up to you. Maybe having another set of wheels is a good idea if you live somewhere where you need different tyres for safety during the winter. Changing the wheels from 17 inch to 16 inch wheels to give you better fuel economy could be worthwhile. I do kinda wonder why the top of the range models with the Nissan Leaf come with the bigger wheels. You can go further when you are running with the 16 inch.

Just To Make It Pretty

Many of the people in the Facebook group for the 2018 Nissan Leaf owners seem to like the plastic trim you can get to put in between the panels on the inside of the door. It does look kind of nice and it doesn’t cost much and there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of visual pleasure. Then you have those fripperies such as the extra lighting you can put into the footwell of the car. Not sure why you’d want to be able to see your feet as you are driving. It’s at the same level as the twiddly bits you can get to put on to the sills. Some of them are just chrome and some of them light up.

It does look kind of nice…

Wrap It Up In Vinyl

Then there’s Nissan Leaf Accessories people buy in order to change the look of the car which varies somewhere in between daft visual adornment and useful. If you live where the weather is terrible and plays havoc with the paintwork, maybe it’s a good idea to pay a lot of money for one of the ceramic coatings. Or you could go for a full wrap using vinyl where you get the protection and a complete change of look with a different colour or a fancy design. With the cost of some of the accessories you have to wonder if maybe some owners are making their car just a bit too precious. It is still mainly a device for going from A to B after all.

Nissan Leaf Accessories
Colin C. Cleverly did a good job of this

Design, form and function

Over the last four years I’ve been driving the car which has a flat space when opening the boot. Now have the Nissan Leaf which has a cavernous space into which you can throw all sorts of junk. My junk get lost in there and it is extremely messy in the boot. So I decided to purchase the genuine Nissan boot organiser which is shaped specifically for the space. It brings the height of the boot to the same as the opening. This could be handy if ever I want to do some camping and sleep in the car. Sling a mattress on top and be totally snug and comfortable in the car. The organiser has two main compartments plus dividers you can put in between, to further segregate the spaces. Now this is at the more useful end of the scale for Nissan Leaf Accessories you can get for the car.

Nissan Leaf Accessories

People living in parts of the world where roads are in poor condition and are made worse with wet weather, go for the mud flaps you can put by the wheels. This is to stop some of the spray containing stones and salt splashing the bodywork. This is obviously going to be useful addition to your Nissan Leaf Accessories and well worth having in some environments.

Pretty shark fin – Nissan Leaf Accessories

If the radio works fine with the standard aerial why do you need to change it one which looks like a shark’s fin? The shark fin arial seems to be not very easy to add to the car and therefore costs a fair bit in labour. Unless you want to spend a few hours struggling and doing it yourself. I suppose they could be worthwhile if you regularly put your car through a car wash. The shark fin antenna does work better where those big mechanical brushes are concerned. One reason to make the change which makes sense.

Elegance pack

In the page for Nissan Leaf Accessories they call it elegance and what you get is side mouldings, lower boot trim and some exterior mirror trim. It doesn’t do much apart from add a bit of glitter on top of the car. A few extra things to keep clean or polish and the price of it on the Nissan website is nearly €500. For me at that price it is a waste of money. However pretty it looks.

Enhanced stupid

Smoking is stupid because it’s dangerous for the health and with Nissan you can choose to shine a light on it with a illuminated ashtray for your car. Smelly and ridiculous why would you want to pollute your car. But then if your lungs are filthy black sacks then what does it matter if your car is disgusting too.

Charge me up and fast

When you get the car it comes with a granny charging cable. (It doesn’t charge grannies 😉 ). It’s given the granny moniker due to its slowness of operation for charging the vehicle. The cable does get the job done but sometimes doing the job twice as fast is necessary. This makes the addition of a Type 2, level 2 charger in your garage or on your driveway a worthwhile investment. These are important Nissan Leaf Accessories.

There are other possibilities for purchases to enhance the charging experience. I don’t know if it’s possible or desirable to have a converter in case you want to plug into a type I socket. There could be occasions where having a longer cable would be useful. Perhaps if your charging point has been ICE’d you’d still be able to get a charge by parking a little bit further away. Ten metre cables are available.

Long-term useful – Solar panels

If you are able to add solar panels to your house you get the extra benefits of charging your car for free at time of use. If you own an electric car you’re going to have a shorter payback time for the capital cost of the solar panels. What would be really nice would be to have vehicle to grid technology also. Fill up the battery of the car during the daytime with free electric and have the option of using some of that in the evening time. Perhaps combine this with one of the Tesla type home batteries. You can charge these up with free electricity during the day and move the electrons into your car and the house during peak time. This would be a long-term set of accessories for the car and also the house – Well worth thinking about.

Different Folks Different Strokes

Nissan leaf Accessories

Everybody has different needs for their vehicle concerning Nissan Leaf Accessories. Everyone will will have a varying amount of need or desire to keep the car in pristine condition. The amount of personalisation is infinite and dependent on the individual. You could have to carry around certain types of equipment regularly and therefore need specific ways of doing that efficiently. Maybe where you work you have to park underneath trees and the best thing to buy would be an exterior car cover. Protect your car from the poop bombing birds. Maybe you don’t like not having a spare wheel in the car and you can find a way to remedy that problem. There’s plenty of space in the boot anyway although it is extra weight to have to carry around. If you regularly have a dog in the car you’ll need extra equipment and protection for the interior. Whatever suits you and makes your Electric vehicle your perfect vehicle. Whic are your favourite Nissan Leaf Accessories?

Rubbish Rapidgate 500km Trip Nissan Leaf – No Problem

What’s All the fuss about Rapidgate?

Rapidgate

I went 500km in one day and rapid charged 3 times and it fitted in perfectly with my personal needs to be fed and watered. Started with 100 percent in the battery and left for Perpignan in France. Charged there for about 20 minutes to get to about 85%. Next destination was Quillan where there is another CHadeMo charger. I also saw there was a Reveo charge point with two Type 2 right next to the CHadeMo. Had a walk around the town while eating ice cream and visiting the river which has a kayak slalom course. Got back to the car to find it up to 99%.

Live for the moment

Onwards back towards Perpignan and I saw a sign for Les Angles in the Pyranees only 48km away. I thought why the hell not… it was a long 48km due to the very windy nature of the road. When we got as far as Formigeres near to Les Angles the rain started. Great to have some cooler temperatures. So a short visit and headed to the route home down the mountain. started that leg with 52% in the battery and arrived in Villefranche de Conflent with 58%. I was hoping it would be more. At least the climb to the top didn’t use too much either. The car got some charge while I had a picnic using the Level 2 charger. I put in about 13% of battery. I didn’t even think about Rapidgate

Nearly Home

Next place was the charger in Girona Sud. Added enough to have a buffer to get home. Could have got back without but didn’t want to chance it. Always best to be cautious at that end of the battery range. 15 minutes of Chademo was enough. Basically I think Rapidgate is a bit of a nonsense. It only affects the outliers who use the Nissan Leaf completely differently from the general public.

Visiting France with Rosie

Nissan Leaf Charged up in France – Using a CHadeMo Charger

One of my reasons to be happy about getting a Nissan Leaf for this year and especially during the summertime is to have it as an escape route for my days off. The idea is to jump in the car and go somewhere and enjoy discovering places nearby. As well as giving me a day out I get a chance to test the capabilities and the public charging infrastructure for the car. I have recently taken trips to France and to the Garrotxa region of Catalonia. Last week I was unable to do a trip due to having to leave my Nissan Leaf in the workshop to get the radar sensor fixed. When I went to collect the vehicle three days later I did get a chance to have a drive around Barcelona looking for charging points. It may seem a little bit weird to think along the lines of a good day out being a hunt for a charging point for my Nissan Leaf. It does kill two birds with one stone though and the visit to various towns and cities is enjoyable. I certainly enjoyed the trip to the Gorge de La Fou in France and coming back via Perpignan. The visit to the town of Olot was lovely and also successful for charging my car. I got my Nissan leaf charged in Olot.

A Trip to France – Nissan Leaf Charged Again

This week the plan is to go to France again. Last time I wanted to go to a town to the north-east of Perpignan, but ended up going to somewhere different. Today we will go to the planned destination. I now have more charging options available to me. I particularly want to test charging in Perpignan because it’s the halfway point to a holiday destination for me. I’ll need to pull in and stop when I go to Lake Matamale to make sure I have enough juice to get to the top of the Pyrenees. I now have the RFID card to use the charging point at the shopping centre. I know exactly where to find the charging point in the large car park. There is also the Nissan dealer not far away that which is only available during their working hours. Over time I want to give both of those a try. The visit today is at the coast and there is a lagoon or lake which we can drive around. I’m expecting it to be a pleasant visit as I can see on the map it is a tourist destination. It has campsites and other amenities. There is a tourist information centre where we’ll be able to have the Nissan Leaf charged up. We will go straight there this time and not get detoured into a shopping centre. It can be a bit of a waste of time running around looking at shops. Mind you, it was useful to get some charge into the car and to get some food into our bodies at the same time.

Nissan Leaf Charged

Getting Past Application Confusion

Next time the plan will be to go to Barcelona. I now have the Barcelona charge card for free electric vehicle charging in the city. I’m really keen to give that a try. I also now know how to use an application for activating free public charges by AMB. I had been trying to press buttons within the application and been completely unsuccessful. A kind person on Twitter informed me it was necessary to slide from right to left in order to make the activation happen. I had tried to do a slide gesture but I must have been going in the wrong direction or starting from the wrong point on the screen.

Misinformed and Frustrated

I found my trip to the city of Barcelona slightly frustrating. The first charging point required a charging card specifically for that town. It may also be possible to use the Barcelona chargecard. I’ll have to give that a try sometime. The second charger I tried was the AMB charger which I couldn’t activate. The third charger was by Ajuntament Barcelona which I expected to be able to use my Girona Ajuntament electric vehicle charge card. This was unsuccessful and I have to have a look at the information again on the Girona website. I felt sure it told me I could use in Barcelona as well. I was misinformed. The fourth charger I went to was one I had used before and one when I had to pay for the electrons. I was happy to get some charge into the battery of the car. Rosie the Nissan Leaf charged and ready for action.

Easy Driving Technology

I must have spent about three hours driving around Barcelona and you’d think I would be tired and grumpy. Because of using the one pedal driving available with the 2018 Nissan Leaf I was surprisingly fresh. E-Pedal is fantastic. Driving the car back home on the motorway using the Pro Pilot Assist was easy going. I was still in good condition when I arrived back at the house. Extremely happy the Pro Pilot Assist and the intelligent cruise control had been fixed with the new radar sensor. Also delighted to have my car back after three days of driving a petrol car with gears. It’s so much easier to have a single speed vehicle with easy driving technology. I love my Leaf…

I don’t care about Rapidgate

I also need to do a longer trip of around about 500 km so I can test Rapidgate to see how it affects me. I’m of the opinion it won’t have any impact at all. I’m happy to drive for 200 km and spend 30 to 40 minutes charging back to 80%. Then driving another 160 km and taking however long necessary to charge the battery enough for the last leg of the journey. I’m sure the second break will need to be longer for me to have a proper rest and food. I find it a little difficult to understand why there are people complaining about #rapidgate with the Nissan Leaf 2018. Then again, there are some people who have two drivers for one car and so don’t need the same amount of rest time. They can swap drivers in order to continue the journey. I suppose they will want to spend less time getting their Nissan Leaf charged for the next leg of the journey.

Electric Car Charging – The Nissan Leaf in France

Last week I went to Perpignan which is not too far across the border from here in Spain. On the way there I was able to do some electric car charging at a shopping centre just before crossing the border and they gave me plenty of range. I was able to do a scenic drive to a natural beauty spot called Gorges de la Fou. One of my reasons to go to Perpignan was to try and get some charge into the car. I knew I would have just enough to get me back home again, but I wanted to have extra as a safety net. It’s also good to grab free electrons wherever possible to make the cheap running costs even cheaper. We went to a shopping centre in Perpignan and drove round the car park at couple of times to find the charger. This is where the application What3Words which is able to pinpoint your position anywhere in Earth using three words. It gets you to within 3 m of whatever you’re looking for. ///paradise.factory.dazzling are the three words you need when looking for the charging point in the car park. You can also use an app which takes photo and puts the  within the photo. At the shopping centre it was a very large car park and it’s much better to have the charging point pinpointed and therefore making it easy to find.

Gorges De La Fou

RFID Cards for Electric Car Charging

I wasn’t able to charge at the shopping centre in Perpignan because I didn’t have the necessary card. I tried to login to the application but that didn’t work either. Having to negotiate a French website to find out what I needed to know while trying to walk around a supermarket with a shopping trolley was destined to be unsuccessful. I had seen website already giving details about how to subscribe in English. I filled in the form and then nothing happened. I later found out it was necessary to pay €24 to order the card. I hadn’t paid any money before and that’s why nothing happened. When I got back home and I was able to use Google Chrome and have the website translated into English I was able to successfully order the card by paying some money. I also send them an email to make sure they had the correct address for the card. This was because the special way to fill in the online form for foreigners to France meant the company wouldn’t have the correct address for sending the card. I’m hoping it doesn’t take too long before the card arrives and I can do some Electric Car Charging in more of Europe.

Electric Car Charging

More RFID cards

I also ordered a card from the Sodetrel which has charging points all across France. I was pleased to order this card for free. It covers a number of Electric Car Charging points on my route to where I take a vacation regularly in October or November in the French Pyrenees. Most if not all of these charging points are the Type 2 cable connection. This will work for my car but it won’t be fast. It’ll be charging at about 6.6 kW per hour which is about the same as the home charger I have in my garage. It’s nowhere near as fast as using a CHAdeMO charger. I’ll have to see if I can get something else to cover more rapid chargers in France. NewMotion seems to have a good network and Plugsurfing has just done a deal with Jaguar Landrover. I have both of those RFID cards and accounts to go with them.

France vs Spain for rapid charging electric vehicles

I’ve been working with the idea of making a trip around the Iberic peninsula. Have been thinking about doing this in October after I finish work for the summer. The plan would be to travel south from Catalonia in the direction of Murcia and Gibraltar. From there I will travel west through Andalucia and going through Sevilla and Granada. Eventually I’d find myself in Portugal and I will travel north until I reached Galicia and the Basque country in northern Spain. From there I’d be heading back east towards Catalonia going through Pamplona, Zaragoza and Lleida. This is all supposed to be a huge test of charging points around Spain. For the fast Electric Car Charging I expect to mostly be using the Nissan dealers around the country. I’d have to stop in some campsites along the way and I’d be getting some overnight charging while sleeping.

International Differences with Charging Networks

The trip around Spain is definitely something I want to do. I don’t think the changing facilities around Spain are terribly good right now though. I know if I want to go to Madrid I would find it difficult even if I went a longer way round. It’s still worth doing the peninsula trip and hopefully feel more confident after I make a few shorter trips. I’ll get better at using the rapid charging connection of my Nissan leaf. It’s not like the English motorways which have the Ecotricity network at nearly all of the motorway service stations. Spain seems to be a little bit slow off the mark for electric vehicles.

How about France and Germany to EV Trip

Maybe I should go to France for the long trip instead. Someone has recently done a trip from Malaga to Paris in a Nissan Leaf. They were successful although I haven’t read all of the details of the story. I’ll have to see if I can find a blog about it because so far all I’ve seen are a set of tweets. With the two networks I’ve signed up for I have a huge number of Electric Car Charging points to work with. Maybe I could find another European trip which would be interesting. For instance, going to southern Germany and back again could be interesting with the travel through France to get there.

Catalonia EV Road Trip with the Nissan Leaf 2018

Catalonia road trip testing chargers

Before I could go out on the Catalonia EV Road Trip the first thing I needed to do was to clean the car. I only cleaned it a couple of days ago, giving it a proper wash with the pressure washer. Have to do it again because it rained the day after, typical! That was when I found a small bump that happened on the passenger side by the front wheel. Someone must have caught it someplace where I was parked. Today I only found a strange thing on the front bumper at the bottom part where there seem to be some sort of plastic strand -like from a brush stuck into the paint. I was working quickly with the wash so I haven’t had a proper look at it again.

Clean Nissan Leaf

So once the car was washed and properly ready for a trip. (Rosie has to look her best when I take her out.) I loaded up my two passengers and we set out in the direction of Vic. I had been to Vic before quite some years ago and I remember it having a rather large town square. It also has some sort of Roman building there too. We didn’t make it into the town due to the loose and fluid plans for the day.

A detour off the Vic road

I had seen in my incoming information, either Twitter or Facebook or an email there was a public charger installed in a town called Viladrau. I decided to make a visit to test out the charger. In Plugshare app it was listed as a Type II Mennekes connection. One of the main things I wanted to test today was how well the electric vehicle card from Girona Ajuntament worked in various charge points. Until today I’d only used it briefly at the charger in Olot. The road into this small village was extremely bendy and full of curves to drive around. It was also used by large trucks and there was a point where we had to reverse back over a bridge to let one through. It’s extremely useful having the camera show me what’s behind making reversing quite easy. Fun Catalonia EV Road Trip, but less so with two queasy passengers.

Catalonia EV Road Trip

Getting the charger to activate

It took a couple of tries for the RFID card to do its magic with the charging post. I think there must be a set order for connecting. I obviously keep getting it wrong on my first couple of tries on my Catalonia EV Road Trip. So one of the things I learned today was to persevere and not give up on the first, second or even third try. You would kind of wonder why I bothered, but I was there and felt sure it should work, so I kept at it. Eventually the post gave me the electrons through my own T2 cable I got out of the boot to plug the car into the charging post. The screen on the charging post is very small and quite difficult to read. It’s an LCD display and could do with some backlighting to make it readable.

tarjeta electric electric

Timer Setting causing a problem

It’s possible that I scuppered the first tried by myself by having the wrong setting in the EV settings of the car. You need to have it switched so the timed charging only applies when at home. I changed this to the correct setting and did some unplugging and plugging back in again for it to work. I didn’t really need to much in the way of charge, but I did want to have a little walk around the town. While I was walking the car was charging and I think I added about 5% to the battery. Not a huge amount, but it was a test and a successful one.


When leaving Viladrau we had to deal with more small country roads. I also managed to make a detour to some roadworks by not paying attention to the notice saying the road was cut. I didn’t really mind, the driving today was supposed to be a voyage of discovery. It was getting towards lunchtime and so we headed to Olot which is where I was using a rapid charger a couple of weeks ago.

Failed to activate with the card

In Olot we went to the electric charging point, a rapid charger which is at a roundabout with a restaurant. The food was better in this version of the restaurant. We had a decent feed for €10 each. When I tried to plug into the rapid charger it kept telling me the card was not recognised. I was not able to use the charger and I was disappointed. This meant I had to go with Plan B. This meant driving two minutes up the road to the Nissan dealership which had a rapid charger in the car park at the front of the building. I was surprised and delighted I was able to easily plug-in and start the charge. I was half expecting it to tell me I needed a code or some other RFID card to activate the charging. Connection was as easy as falling off a log. I walked back down to the restaurant and left the car charging for 45 minutes and it went from about 50% to 98%. This was a good state of play for the rest of the trip. There was one other place in Olot I could have tried. Maybe I would have got lucky at the other public charger. No point in trying to charge it after I’d already taken it up to 98%. Next time in Olot I will try out the other one.

EV Charger in Olot

A trip to Figueres

My passengers and I had no particular place we wanted to go to. So I decided to go and test a charger in Figueres. There is a public charger which I should have been able to use the charging card from Girona. A pleasant drive from where we were to the town famous for the museum of Salvador Dali. Using Apple Carplay in the car to guide me to the charge point was easy. The large fly in the ointment was that there were works going on all around the square where the charger was situated. This had affected the rapid charger. There were barriers all around it and tape. It was impossible to park there let alone plug-in and get some charge.

Unusable in Figueres

Moving on to the next destination

The next destination for the Catalonia EV Road Trip was Girona to test another charging point. I had enough juice in the battery to get me all the way home. Even so, I want to try out another charger and test the charging card once more. This rapid charger is situated to the south of the city. I’d spotted it a couple of times in the PlugShare application and I’d wanted to give it a try.

BMW i3 gets the spot

As we pulled into the charging point there was a BMW i3 pulled in just in front of us. The female driver was plugging in as we were parking. This was a single charging point and one thing I’ve learned today is that even if someone is using the different type of connection, the CCS as you find with the BMW this will put the CHAdeMO charging out of action. I was able to test the card still by connecting my car to the AC Mennekes. I just checked to see that the electrons were flying into the car and the easiest way to do that is with looking at the flashing blue lights on the dash. It is also possible to see in the Leaf Spy Pro when there is charge going into the car. The maximum I can get in to the 2018 Nissan Leaf is just over 6 kW using this connection. I suspect future Nissan leaf vehicles will have an on-board charger at least as fast as the 22 kW you find on the Renault Zoe. That speed of charging is half as fast as you normally get with the CHAdeMO when you first start, but is still pretty quick. The lady with the BMW i3 was in there for the long haul, which is the maximum of 30 minutes. She had got her phone out and had put the seat back to relax as she chatted with her friends. Time to move on to the next charging point.

Catalonia EV Road Trip

Girona shopping centre charging

In the underground parking for the shopping centre I knew there were some chargers. The Type 2 Mennekes plugs hanging from the same sort of charging point as I have in my garage at home. It took me a while to find these chargers. Now I know where they are will be easy to find and use the next time. Not that I like going to the shopping centre because there’s hardly anything there for us boys to look at. There’s more there for the female of the species. Although, I did get a very nice cake and was able to sit and relax for about half an hour or more. I didn’t really time how long I was at the shopping centre for. The main thing is it put about 16% into the battery bringing it back up to 80%.

Destination EV Charger

Stop Start and Pro Pilot Assist

For part of the way home I was able to use the Pro Pilot Assist. This was really useful at a town called Quart. The traffic was slow going, doing the stop and start thing. I was able to sit and relax while the car did most of the work. Occasionally the traffic would stop completely for more than three seconds and my preference is to press the reset button on the steering wheel. It just feels a little safer than tapping the accelerator pedal to get the car moving again. It’s going to be marvellous when I get the radar sensor at the front of the car fixed on the 16th of this month. There’s a lot of people have been affected by this sensor problem. I’m surprised Nissan allowed so many cars out the factory with a faulty radar sensor. I would have expected these parts to have been fully tested when they were being supplied. It’s a little strange way this fault works. It is intermittent, but not right from the beginning of a journey. The Pro Pilot Assist will work perfectly for 40 or 50 km before it starts complaining.

A useful road trip in Catalonia

Apart from enjoying seeing the fantastic countryside here in Catalonia, the road trip was useful to learn more about my car and charging it. I already knew it was a good idea to have a plan B and possibly a plan C. My experience of driving the car today and charging confirmed that. It’s quite possible if I was going to a place without having any planning I could end up getting into difficulties. Finding chargers which are out of service is one thing. There is also the unreliability of the charging card. It really should have worked on the charger in the car park of the restaurant. It did work two weeks ago when we used it. It should have worked perfectly for us today also. Every time I tried it just gave me the same message to say the card was not recognised. Very disappointing!

Overall I enjoyed the drive in terms of being entertained while travelling and being a tourist. I would have enjoyed better if I had to run into problems to deal with regards charging. Mind you, part of it is all about it being a learning experience today. The fact I ran into problems and was able to deal with them was a positive thing overall.

Rosie out on the Road

It can only get better for the next Catalonia EV Road Trip

I think there are lots of changes to be made with regards the provisioning of charging points around Spain. At the moment there are still not enough. The town of Vic had only one charging point and it was of the wrong type of connector according to PlugShare. This was one of the reasons why we gave the town a miss. We could have gone there to eat and to charge the car. Towns need to realise they need to provide charging points for electric car drivers if they want to encourage us to visit their town. Olot is a smaller town but has many more charging options.

Crowd sourced Information

One of the excellent things with the PlugShare application is the ability to add charging points to it. I had expected to find the charging points for the shopping centre in the application already. I didn’t see them but I was able to add them myself. I took photos and included information to do with the charging points, such as how to use them. I left a notification in the application on where to find the charging points in the underground parking area. Other electric car drivers will be able to benefit from my additional information in the PlugShare app. I’m looking forward to my next Catalonia EV Road Trip.

EV Nicolas Raimo – Renault Zoe Driver

EV20Q Talking to Nicolas Raimo – EV Nick the Renault Zoe Driver

Buying a Renault Zoe secondhand

In this interview with EV Nick we have a chat about all things electric vehicle. Nick is a happy Renault Zoe driver. He bought the car second hand and got a good deal helped by the fact he works in the motor industry. This also gives him the chance to drive a variety of vehicles and he tells me recently took home the BMW I8 for the evening. With his Italian roots it’s obvious he’s going to be anti Brexit like myself. But this podcast is all about electric vehicles and not about politics.

Losing his Car

It’s good to get talking to a Renault Zoe driver because I usually get talking more with Nissan Leaf owners. Nick’s car is a 22 kWh model which he bought to satisfy this urge to drive an electric car. He was even prepared to move house to get a place where he could easily charge electric vehicle. Why not! Electric vehicles are the future after all. It seems that the car has been swiped from him by his girlfriend who initially was against the idea of driving electric. Now she has it she wouldn’t swap it for all of the tea in China. Driving an electric vehicle kind of does that to you. Another Renault Zoe driver…

Fully Charged Live

During our chat we talked about his visit to the Fully Charged Live event which recently took place in Silverstone in the UK. He donated some of his time there to ferrying people from the car park to the event which was a short distance away. It seems the Renault Zoe owners club and a whole bunch of Tesla drivers were happy to do this. It wasn’t just enthusiastic electric vehicle owners at the event there were also a lot of people interested and still driving cars with internal combustion engines. It would have been a good introduction to electric vehicles with getting a lift in a Tesla.

No Apple CarPlay in the Zoe

Good talking to such an enthusiastic EV driver / Renault Zoe driver who advocates driving electric on his YouTube channel. I wouldn’t have a Zoe myself because it doesn’t to Apple Carplay. I have to have the car suit the phone I use because I can’t stand Android.

Best Electric Car – Driving the Nissan Leaf 2018

I can easily say the best car I’ve ever driven is the Nissan Leaf 2018. I’ve driven lots of mostly average cars and a few good ones. The Nissan Leaf 2018 is leaps and bounds better than the Mercedes 320e I owned a few years back. That was a top of the range car and over 15 years ago so it’s not surprising that I even preferred my Renault Clio over the Mercedes. The motor manufacturers keep adding more and much improved technology to all of the cars. It is a trickle-down thing where tech only found in the hugely expensive cars previously is finding itself in more affordable cars. In my search for the best electric car to buy right now, the Nissan Leaf 2018 is at the top of my list.

Best Electric Car

Adapting to electric vehicle technology

Obviously the thing that makes it the best electric car is the fact that it is fully electric. I didn’t want a hybrid car as that’s just a halfway stage. Cars of the future will be all electric. There’ll be no need for petrol/gas powered cars. We’ll have the combination of sufficient range and more than adequate infrastructure for the transport of the future. Some people I talk to who don’t own electric cars believe the infrastructure is not quite there yet. On account of them not having proper experience of driving and owning an electric car they are only partly right. For most people a fully electric car is all you’ll need. There are some edge cases where an electric car would be a bad choice. For the majority an electric car is a perfect choice for 99% of the time. There are maybe two journeys per year when a gasoline powered car might be better. I know that I’m prepared to change my driving style and habits for the rare occasions when I need to stretch the capabilities of my electric car. I’d rather drive my Leaf than swap to an ICE car. Mostly this involves being prepared to allow extra time for charging during a long distance drive. It also might mean more planning and possibly changing the preferred route. It’s not really a problem, whenever you go on a long drive you have to do some route planning anyway. It’s just a case that with an electric car it will be a slightly different plan. It’s only because the chargers tend to be not at petrol stations. As an electric car driver you’re going to be more interested in efficient use of energy. It’s highly likely you’ll be prepared to drive at a slower speed to get better fuel economy. I used to do that with my Suzuki motorbike as I found by keeping the speed below 70 miles an hour there was a huge difference with the amount of petrol it consumed. Driving economically is not really a new concept.

What’s so good about the 2018 Nissan Leaf?

  • You don’t have to visit smelly petrol stations.
  • Running costs of the Nissan Leaf are extremely low. Very little maintenance required.
  • E pedal, one pedal driving is fantastic. Hardly any need to touch the brakes.
  • Pro Pilot Assist gives drivers a relaxing drive.
  • Loads of safety features such as front crash collision warning and blindspot warnings in the mirrors.
  • Cross traffic alert at the rear. Really good for when pulling out of parking spaces and you can’t see what’s coming.
  • Pedestrian alerts just in case someone is walking in front of the car and you don’t see them quickly enough.
  • Apple Carplay or Android Auto.
  • Good visibility all round due to a high seating position.
  • Front and rear cameras with proximity sensors and alerts.
  • Plenty of leg room for rear passengers even behind a driver with long legs.
  • For me it is the best electric car for the money. Good Value.

What it feels like being an EV driver

With it being so silent when driving the Nissan Leaf it seems awful and quite strange putting up with the noise from other vehicles. I work at a campsite and I really notice now the loud diesels in the campervans are. As they drive past, apart from the noise I also notice the smell. It really isn’t very nice getting a whiff of the noxious fumes coming from the internal combustion engine vehicles.

The last time I went to fill up my Renault Clio I also found the smell of the petrol to be quite offensive. I’m delighted I won’t have to be doing that hardly ever again. The only time I may have to do that is if I have to drive my wife’s car for some odd reason. Or maybe if I am given a courtesy car by the dealership if my car is in for a service. It’s also pretty cool to know my car won’t need much in the way of servicing. I do have to take the car in for one day in the workshop later this month to have a radar sensor replaced. This is a known problem with the new Nissan Leaf. A number of new owners have seen messages coming up saying the Pro Pilot Assist is not working due to a blocked sensor. When you’ve got used to using Pro Pilot Assist, when you don’t have it you really miss it. Mine is working intermittently and starts playing up after I have driven about 50 km.

Nissan Leaf

There’s lots to love with the safety features in the Nissan Leaf

The sensors at the front and the rear of the car are not just for when parking. They also tell you if you are on a collision course with a vehicle in front. A big warning triangle comes up in the screen in the dash behind the steering wheel. The system will also apply the brakes if it believes it’s necessary. With both the visual and audible warning you’ll also be reaching for the brake pedal with your right foot. I suspect the safety system in the car will probably react faster than you do. Something you expect in the best electric car.

On my way home there is an on-ramp to the main road which is quite short and has a blind spot as you want to pull into the traffic coming through. The blindspot warning is incredibly useful to save you pulling out into another vehicle. Another super feature of the car is the incredible acceleration. This comes into play when pulling into this traffic and getting up to the same speed as the cars in the flow. I love it when I get that burst of acceleration and my eyeballs want to migrate to the back of my head.

Driving position and comfort 2018 Nissan Leaf

One of the first things I noticed when taking my first test drive was the high up seating position. It’s almost as if you are driving a van or an SUV. There’s excellent views all around to the front and to the rear from the drivers seat. I have the Tekna version of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. The seats are firmer and more solid than cloth seats. They are still quite comfortable, although I suspect they will get more comfortable as they wear in over the years.

Nissan Leaf driving comfort

I’m not a tall person about 1.8m, but I do like to stretch my legs out when I’m driving. In my previous car this left no room for a passenger behind me. I would have to move the seat a notch or two forward and change the incline of the seatback to leave space behind. This was only good for short journeys as it would make me feel a little bit cramped. At least the passenger behind didn’t have to cut their legs off. In the new Nissan Leaf there is plenty of room behind me for passengers. When I first looked at the best electric car in the showroom, it seemed there wasn’t much room to put your feet underneath the seat in front. In my car this doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve sat in the rear passenger seat and I found it to be quite comfortable. I had room to put my toes underneath the driver’s seat. The person sitting in the middle of the Nissan Leaf will feel a little bit cramped though.

One of my favourite things – Apple Carplay

I was disappointed not to have Apple Carplay in my Renault Clio. I see in the Renault Zoe, even in later versions they still don’t have Apple Carplay. There’s no way I would go back to using Android again, so not having Carplay is a deal breaker for me. I didn’t even bother looking at the Zoe. Another reason for choosing the Nissan Leaf as my best electric car.

Apple Car Play

With Apple Carplay I get immediate access to my music. If I’m listening to a podcast using my preferred pod catcher, when I plug in to the car it will start playing what I was listening to before. Apple Carplay is really good for sending messages either using WhatsApp or with the Apple messaging application. The system will allow me to do this without having to press buttons or spend time looking at the screen. I do need to press the home button to bring up Siri and I can do that without taking my eyes off the road. Siri will read back the dictated message and I give the go-ahead to send if it’s correct. With the drive in the electric Nissan Leaf being so silent I don’t have to worry about engine noise affecting the ability of Siri to hear what I’m saying. If a new message comes in I can get Siri to read the message to me. I’m happy with the way it all works in the best electric car, in my opinion.

Waze is much better than using Apple Maps

When iOS 12 becomes available later in the year I’ll also be able to use Waze as my mapping application. I like using Waze because it is more of a drivers application rather than simply being a maps application. It’s much better than using Apple Maps. In my previous car I occasionally used Google maps when I needed to go somewhere and get instructions along the way. Waze is good for seeing real-time traffic information such as accidents up ahead. When using it recently I noticed it has given instructions to change the route due to traffic jams on my chosen route. That’s kind of cool!

Driving using just one pedal – Using E–pedal in the Nissan Leaf

With the electric car not having any gears it’s already easier driving than using a car with a manual gear change. I always liked having an automatic car and the electric car goes one stage further. The 2018 Nissan Leaf is further improved with the addition of the E Pedal which truly gives you one pedal driving. You don’t have to touch the brakes at all, It’s easy to gauge how much you need to lift your foot off the accelerator pedal in order to stop or slow down as required. It does perhaps seem a little strange at first, but once you get used to it, you love it.

E-Pedal in the Best Electric Car

E-Pedal works just the same when you are driving on an incline either going up or going down. Taking your foot off the accelerator will bring you to a halt and you still don’t need to touch the brake pedal to hold still. There’s no need to put on the handbrake. The car will hold its position until you start moving again using the accelerator pedal. In some ways it’s a little bit like driving a dodgem car as you might find in a fairground. The 2018 Nissan Leaf, my best electric car, is just a little bit more sophisticated! Some drivers of the new Nissan Leaf have noted that when driving roads with bends and curves you can have plenty of fun as you drive. You can concentrate on the steering and getting the power back on after using the regenerative breaking going into the curve.

Taking longer trips with the 2018 Nissan Leaf



It’s often fun to go on a road trip and part of it is the planning. With an electric car you need to charge from time to time so you do have to make a plan. The range of the 40 kWh Nissan Leaf is between 240 and 270 km. You will want to arrive at your destination with about 10% to 20% left in your battery. This means the first leg of your journey after you start with 100% in the battery when leaving home you’ll drive about 200 km. For many people this is further than their bladder range. It’s not a big deal to stop and take a break after a couple of hours of driving. The amount of time you need to recharge the battery of the vehicle will depend upon the charging point. If you use a fast charger you can expect to spend 40 minutes or so charging from your 20% you have left back up to about 80 or 90%. This will then give you another driving range for your vehicle of about 160 km. At this stage I’m starting to think I’ve driven enough for the day. If I needed to keep on driving though it would be good to take a longer break while putting in another batch of electrons. With another charge you have another 160km to play with, so we are up to about 500km for the day. That is definitely time for an overnight break. Driving the 2018 Nissan Leaf with the 40 kWh battery is a good solution to electric transport. You could spend more for a car with a bigger battery but do you really need to? Not everyone needs or can afford a Tesla or a Jaguar IPace.

Pro Pilot Assist problems – Faulty Radar Sensor

On my day off I decided the first thing to do was to wash Red Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf. I’ll talk about the Pro Pilot Assist problems shortly. A bird had used Rosie for target practice and had scored a bull’s-eye. There were also loads of marks on it from the rain from the day before. I have one of those small pressure washers just right for washing cars. I start with an extra adapter to spray soap all over the car first of all. It’s easy to go around then with some special washing mitts to spread the soap around and to move the dirt. The third stage is to spray with just the water and remove the soap and the dirt. I live in a warm climate which is sunny so it’s a good idea to do this in the shade so the water doesn’t dry to quickly. If it does, it just leaves streaky marks all over the car. And we don’t want that, do we? So I have microfibre small towels I use to dry off the car. These do a fantastic job and at the end of it you have a great looking car. So now the car was ready for a trip out.

Nissan Leaf 2018

Trip to Barcelona in the 2018 Nissan Leaf

The distance from my house to the dealership where I bought the car is about 107 km. It is motorway all of the way. Using Pro Pilot makes driving much more relaxing and easy-going. You get assistance with keeping the car in the lane. Even though you have to keep your hands on the steering wheel is still useful. You can let go of the steering wheel but the maximum time is about seven seconds before you get warning messages. This works in conjunction with the intelligent cruise control. You set the maximum speed you want to travel and let the car do the rest. If a car or other vehicle in front is going slower the Nissan Leaf 2018 will slow to that speed. Put on the indicators and change lane to overtake and the car will automatically resume to the preset required top speed. It’s a useful level of automation for driving. The trouble is, I’ve been having Pro Pilot Assist problems.

What happens during these Pro Pilot Assist problems

The radar sensor at the front of the car wrongly detects vehicles in front of the car. It seems to think there are cars in front when there aren’t. This applies the brakes so you end up lurching forward in your seat. It is only momentarily happening so it quickly turns off again. This in turn accelerates the car and throws you back again into your seat. This is not a pleasant way to drive the car. There have been a couple of occasions when it has been more extreme. The car has shown the frontal crash collision warning symbol in the dash. The only way around this problem is to hold the foot on the accelerator. If you are doing this then there is not much point in having Pro Pilot Assist. On this latest journey it got so bad the radar sensor was reported as being blocked. There wasn’t anything blocking the centre at the front of the car, I checked when I stopped. These Pro Pilot Assist problems seem to occur after driving a few kilometres. The first 50 km was okay and only after that did the difficulties begin.

2018 Nissan Leaf in the workshop for the Pro Pilot assist problems

As I was in the dealership for the Nissan Leaf I asked them to take a look at the problem. They connected it to the computer and found more or less nothing. The mechanic did say there was some sort of problem, but would have to talk to Nissan about it. He wasn’t any more specific than that. So I spent some time in the waiting room while they hooked the car up to the computer. With an intermittent fault it is hard to pin point the cause with certainty.

UPDATE

I have since had a call from the dealer to give me a date to take the car in to get it fixed. They will fit a new radar sensor and spend a day to calibrate it. I will have a courtesy car to ride for a day while mine is being looked at.

Next part of the story – Finding an electric car charger in Barcelona

I was unable to put the car on charge at the dealers. The ChadeMo charging point they claimed was broken. Due to this I needed to go to Plan B to get Red Rosie enough electron juice to drive home. Instead of taking the scenic route back to Girona I’d have to go into Barcelona to find a charger.

Pro Pilot Assist problems

The paperwork I was looking for today from the dealers is what was needed to apply for the RFID pass to use the public charges in Barcelona. I don’t know if it’s possible to use them without so I looked for other charging alternatives. I had recently seen there were public charges in a shopping centre called La Maquinista. So off I went.


The chargers at La Maquinista had no signs with instructions. There was a Tesla parked up and charging. I tried but gave up. On to plan C. I went to the Nissan garage outside the shopping centre. I expected to have to wait until 3pm when it opened again. Was surprised to find it open and the mechanic was able to get a car moved so I could plug in. 22 minutes later I had enough charge for the journey home.

2018 Nissan Leaf

Terrible drive home with Pro Pilot Assist problems

The Pro Pilot Assist problems came back even worse on the drive back home. I shot video to show the workshop how bad it was. The car would bleep and throw on the anchors and then immediately accelerate to get back to the set speed lost by the braking. I was getting thrown forward and backwards in the seat. It eventually gave up all together and reported the front Radar Sensor blocked again. The Pro Pilot assist would not work at all then.

Next Day

I drove the car to work put on Pro Pilot Assist and it worked flawlessly. Same coming home too. I expect the problem will resurface next time I do a longer trip. I have a few weeks to wait before the car can be fixed. other 2018 Nissan Leaf owners have reported the same Pro Pilot Assist problems. They have had the sensor replaced and everything is OK again.