What’s All the fuss about 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Update – All Good Now
Eventually I got the car into the garage, after about a month. The radar sensor was replaced and it has been working perfectly ever since. The Pro Pilot Assist and the Intelligent Cruise Control are fantastic and I use all the time. Even on shorter stretches of road I’ll turn it on and have some of the effort of driving taken care of by the car.
We are on the racetrack coming round the final bend and I can see the winning line ahead of me. I was hoping to collect my Nissan Leaf from the dealers today and it doesn’t seem to be happening. The salesman rang me this morning looking for more paperwork. I was able to send him what was required within 30 minutes. Then there was nothing from him from lunchtime until about 5 o’clock. It was obvious at this stage I wasn’t going to get my car today. The redtape in Spain is a complete disaster. They always seem to want everything in triplicate and signed a half a dozen times. The salesman was giving me information about something needing to be done with the local council. This is where the tax for the car is paid. Except there is no tax to be paid on a fully electric Nissan Leaf. It still has to be registered with the council though. I find out later the car has been registered. Iv’e no idea what the problem was that he needed to tell me about that.
A Fat Lady Singing
A little bit later I got my wife to ring and speak to the salesman Catalan to Catalan. She rang me back later to tell me the car hasn’t been registered for the road and the hold-up is with the traffic department. I can only assume this will be sorted out tomorrow. I’ll be able to go and collect my car in the afternoon when I’ve finished work. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed because it isn’t over until the fat lady sings – In triplicate!
I had been hoping I could go and collect the car today. It just seemed like a good thing to do on my day off. I was going to get the train to the dealership and enjoy the drive back home. If it got too late for getting the train I even toyed with the idea of driving my present car to the garage. I would leave it there overnight and go back to collect it tomorrow. That would give me a 200 km drive in my Nissan Leaf tomorrow. That would have been okay as it would give me more experience and fun learning all the ins and outs of my new car. Most of it would have been motorway so not that interesting apart from getting the best out of Pro Pilot Assist. Perhaps I would have improved the journey home by taking a few detours. I’d be able to enjoy the scenic route in the Nissan Leaf. Get the feel of the car.
Still no WallBox Installed
There was a problem I could possibly anticipate. I’d have expected to use half the battery approximately driving back home from the dealership today. I don’t really know how long it would take to charge back to 100% using the ‘granny cable’. This is where you charge your car using a normal household plug socket. It puts the electrons into the battery about half as fast as you do with the 6.6 kW Type II charging. Would I have enough in the battery to get me back to Barcelona again? I think the answer would be probably, even though I wouldn’t be able to charge the car many hours overnight. I leave the house at five thirty in the morning hence there not being many hours during the night time to charge up. There is of course the possibility I could charge at work, although I don’t know how the boss is going to react to that. I will ask when I have the car. I have been told by someone who knows a company is legally required to provide a charging point at a place of work. It wouldn’t just be there for me to use as the only worker with an electric vehicle. It would also be there available for customers of the campsite. I think this would be a good thing for the business. It would be something we could advertise. A destination charger which could be used by people with electric vehicles to come camping at the campsite by the beach in Platja d’Aro.
Time to Chill
On account of the fact I’m not doing anything now or later on this evening I will just relax, sit back and put my feet up. I’ll take a chill pill and hope things go better with getting my car tomorrow. It would be just nice and lovely if I could have a string of lucky happenings take place. I could have been lucky and have Nissan give me my car based upon the date of my first order. One month less waiting for delivery. The salesman could have told me the truth that I would be starting again and waiting longer for the car. Nissan could have been getting cars into Spain just as quick as they were sending them off to Norway and the UK. The car did arrive in the dealer showroom about a week before it was due to, so I suppose that was fairly lucky. That luck could have continued by the salesman pulling his finger out and getting all the paperwork and car registration sorted out sooner rather than later. At least three or four days have been lost to incompetent inactivity. Like I said that’s been mixed in with a bit of desperately slow paperwork shuffling you always seem to find here in Spain.
There will be more organising to do once I’ve got the car. I’ll need to register the car with the company that charges for the use of the motorway. The Peajes with the barriers. I’ll get an electronic tag in the car which will allow me to pass through without paying. That’s lucky I suppose. Then I will need to register with the office that deals with electric car chargers in Barcelona and Girona. I can’t remember what it’s called but it will give me free charging in a lot of places nearby. It will be useful for when I make a trip down to Barcelona airport to collect friends and family. I’ll give myself an extra 20 minutes or so to throw in a few electrons. This will make sure I have plenty of range for getting back home again and it also give me some electric for free. Handy for keeping the overall running costs of the car down.
Making Up Rude Words on the Reg Plate
I’m looking forward to finding out what the registration of the car will be. Wondering if it will be something which could be construed as rude as is the registration plate on my current car. The letters on my Renault were able to be read as “go screw yourself” or something similar and ruder. There were two or three people who brought that to my attention within days of me having the Clio. Quite amusing really!
Looking ahead to driving electric
I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the local area. I want to make trips to find places where I can charge the car in the locality. It will be in the spirit of exploration and discovery. I don’t get much time off during the week. So it’ll be quite nice to take off on a Sunday evening and perhaps do some camping overnight and come back later in the day on Monday. Or I could just do a day trip on the Monday if I think the roads are going to be too busy with people heading back home after the weekend. I will start with some local trips and work my way up to going further away. I would like to head up into the mountains in July and August. The evenings will be cooler there and for one night of the week sleeping will be easier because of the lower temperatures. It will probably be quite good to take trips up towards Perpignan and Carcassonne. I’m sure there are some pleasant places to visit in that region. I already have the RFID card for Chargemap and that will allow me to charge easily and at a reasonable price while in France. The charging points for Chargemap in Spain are not compatible with the Chargemap card. I’m not sure how that works. Maybe just gives me details of where the chargers are and then I have to work out other methods of paying to use the charger.
Driving around the Peninsula
This is something I plan to do when I’ve got a bit more experience of being an EV driver. My loose and basic plan is to drive south from Catalonia along the Mediterranean coast. Pop into Valencia and Tarragona and other interesting places along the route. I plan to hit quite a few towns along the way to see a few things I haven’t experienced yet in Spain. I’ll probably go to Gibraltar just to say I’ve been there. I’m more interested in seeing cities such as Granada, Sevilla and any other fantastic places along the south coast of Spain. Of course the journey after that will bring me up the Atlantic coast going through Portugal. It would be cool if I could meet up with some of the Portuguese members of the 2018 Nissan Leaf Facebook group while travelling through. Continuing around the coast it’s going to be great to visit Pais Vasco, I want to go to Bilbao and Santander. From there it will be a hop skip and jump across the north part of Spain taking in Pamplona and Zaragoza. A journey such as this could easily take me a couple of weeks. I’ll be doing it on my own or maybe with my dog. Unfortunately my wife will be back at work. It’s a shame our working patterns don’t fit together at all.
This morning I took a trip to Barcelona to the dealership where my car is waiting for me. The red Nissan Leaf Tekna named Rosie. When I woke up this morning I didn’t know if I was going to be able to call in and see my new car. There is a public holiday in Barcelona, but fortunately it didn’t extend out as far as the Nissan dealership in Terrassa. It was an uneventful drive along the motorway and I got there in one piece. I walked into the showroom and the salesman Dani spotted me and took me over to my Nissan Leaf.
Love at First Sight
The combination of a rich red paintwork on the body with the black highlights around the car was stunning. The tinted rear windows and the black C pillar look fantastic and on the rear of the car there is a blue highlight giving it that little bit extra oomph. This matches the blue highlights you see on the vee shape of the front grille. I had a good look all around the car from all angles and I was delighted to get the key and have a sit inside. The car screams quality and style with the blue stitching in the seats and in parts of the dash. You also see the blue stitching around the steering wheel. It was a real pleasure to sit inside Rosie the Nissan Leaf Tekna.
Time to play with the car electronics
The size of the centre screen in the console seems a little bit small. It is a reasonably good resolution screen and responsive to my touch. Using the on-screen buttons I was able to make my way around the controls and also the views with the cameras. There’s plenty of things to be set up and adjusted to my liking. I can see I’ll be spending an hour or two fiddling with all the settings. I’m particularly looking forward to connecting up my Apple iPhone and sorting out Apple Carplay. I’ll get the connection going with Bluetooth as well, but the Carplay requires the lightning cable. I don’t think it’s possible to use Waze with Apple Carplay which is a bit of a shame. I’ve got quite used to using Waze as my driving application in the Renault Clio.
There is another screen in front of the driver behind the steering wheel. There are buttons on the steering wheel to access the different levels of view and settings. Again there are plenty of settings requiring personalisation within these menus. I expect I’ll refine my needs on this screen in time after driving and seeing which settings I like. It’s possible to define a default screen and which is best depends upon the type of driving I’ll be doing most often. A couple of times while playing with these menus I found it difficult to back out to the main screen. At one point I switched the car off and booted it back up again to get back to the start. There’s a nice animation you see when starting the car up, but this can also be switched off if you want.
Nissan Leaf Tekna Comfort
The driving seat is incredibly comfortable and of course this is important if you’re going to be sitting in it for a long trip. Today I didn’t spend any time sitting in the passenger seat. There doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of legroom for the passenger, but there’s probably enough. I did jump into the back seat and I was pleased to see it was possible to get my feet slightly underneath the driver seat in front. When I was trying the car previously there didn’t seem to be any room to tuck away the toes. Maybe the seat height has been changed or adjusted. There was plenty of room for the passenger in the back seat behind my driving seat which was set for my usual legroom. That’s not the case when anyone wants to sit behind me in the Renault Clio. In that car I have to move my car seat one notch forward which is not quite so comfortable for me. Big plus point for the Red Nissan Tekna, Rosie.
The Waiting Will Soon Be Over
I was surprised when the salesman suggested he’ll be able to get the government incentive money sorted out. I was expecting that if it was possible he would delay me getting the car for another month or two. I wasn’t having any of that and I’m prepared to just pay for the car without the incentive if necessary. He’s going to tell me tomorrow if it’s possible. I am wondering if he will remember to send me the email he promised me today. He’s not been very good so far with his communication skills. This is one of the main reasons I’ve been so unhappy with the service from this Nissan dealership. I’d like to be to go and collect my car on my next day off and that is one week from today. I’ll have to get the train because my wife is going to be away. By using public transport I should arrive there little fresher than how I was today after driving down the motorway. I’ll be in tiptop condition for driving my car back home next week.
Fully Charged and Ready to Drive
When the car leaves the dealer showroom it’ll be fully charged. Today it was showing a charge level of 21% and it also has 64 km on the odometer. I only have just over 100 km to drive home, so when I get back I’ll still have plenty of juice left in the battery. Mind you, there is a huge possibility I might make a few detours along the way just to enjoy the driving experience. I’ll have the whole day to myself although I will have to get back to look after the dog.
Live video from inside Rosie the Tekna
For all the members of the group on Facebook for 2018 Nissan Leaf owners I recorded a live video. A little bit of chat about the car and a tour of Rosie inside and out. Thanks for all the well wishes from the members of the group. Many of them have been feeling my pain with all of the bad luck I seem to have had with my long wait and poor service from Nissan. It was good to have a few people watching the live view and sending me questions in, as I was recording. There were messages from people who are still waiting for their Nissan Leaf 2018. I fully understand how jealous they might be because I’ve been in that situation myself. It seems I’ve seen so many who’ve ordered their car months after my order went in, but got their car before me. Nissan have been very slow in getting the car delivered to Spanish customers. EV20Q Podcast Page.
Happy at last with Nissan Leaf Tekna
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things work out right for my Nissan Leaf Tekna from now on. I haven’t been too lucky so far with the purchase of this vehicle. Despite a very slight pessimistic feeling of impending doom today, I’m delighted and happy to be getting this close to driving off in my new Nissan Leaf Tekna called Rosie. Wish me luck for this coming week.