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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.

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? Electric Car trip to Cadaques

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.