Art Gallery Trip – Leaf Rat Run

Following the stupid GPS

Or is the driver stupid for following the GPS? It was the day of the road trip to France I wanted to go visit a modern art museum in the small town of Cerét in France. The trip was unsuccessful with the museum closed until April. I thought I was onto a winner going on a Wednesday because it is normally closed on a Monday. Guess what, from April my day off will be on a Monday. I can try again in October. As I was making my way to the charging point in Cerét I was following the GPS. It suggested I should take a turn which in terms of compass direction was correct.

Electric Car Charging

Breathe in Rosie

I was only a short way into this narrow street rat run when I started wondering about my sanity. I got into one situation where I couldn’t go forwards and reversing all the way out was going to be a little difficult. So I reversed back part of the way and there was another street going forwards. I took that despite it looking rather narrow. We made it through without scratching any bodywork including the door mirrors. “Ha, ha, success I’m brilliant.” I thought to myself. I hadn’t got much further when I arrived in a small town square. It didn’t look like there was any way out. I did the sensible thing and asked a local if it was possible to exit on the other side of the square. He told me no and you’ll have to go back the way you just came in. “Oh shit! It’s gonna be hard to turn the car around and I hope nothing is coming through the road while I’m trying to get out.”

After the event it’s quite easy to think, “Well that was fun”, but during the event I have to say I was kind of crapping myself. It’s certainly taught me a lesson with regards being reliant upon the GPS. It wasn’t as bad as the guy who drove down a country lane and nearly drove off the end of a cliff. There was a definite possibility I could have badly scratched the car. I did start to wonder if I would need to have a can opener in order to extricate myself and Rosie.

The car charging experiment

Révéo Charger

My main task for the day was to find one of the newer Révéo chargers to see what power output I would get from it. My previous experience with the charger in Cerét was a disappointing 3.3 kW. My plan was to try a charging point not too far away where I knew it was one of the newer versions. I had used it before, but I hadn’t taken any notice of how much charge was going into the car. At the time it was just important Rosie was plugged in and getting some charge while I was away getting some food. So after my disastrous visit to Cerét I headed towards Saint-Jean-Pla-de-Corts . I did have to squeeze Rosie in between a tree and a parked lorry. Apart from that though, no problem. Pulled in and plugged in. I was delighted to see the car was charging at 6 kW which is a reasonable charging speed for a destination type charger. When you’re in a place for an hour or two you can get a reasonable number of kilometres back into the battery. I’d have liked to stay there for the full hour, but I was running short of time. I did add 6% into the battery while I had my little picnic.

Broken shopping centre charger

I needed to stop for a comfort break at the shopping centre at La Jonquera. It was a good opportunity to test the chargers in the underground parking space. The last time I was there they didn’t work. I can confirm there is still a problem with these chargers. Same as before, I thought at first it was working. The lights on the charger stubbornly refused to change from green to blue. I left with the same amount of battery energy in the car as I had when we pulled in to the parking space. I’ll have to find some way of letting the shopping centre know that their chargers are non-functioning.

Fossil car fallback

I needed to get back to home for a certain time. It was necessary to pick up my wife and go to choir practice. I am enjoying singing with the Costa Brava Rock Choir. It’s a bit of fun and you can’t help but have a happy smile on your face when you’ve finished. There was enough juice to get back to the house. It did turn out a little bit tight with me arriving back at home with 3% battery. The car was talking to me giving me warnings about low battery. Rosie was begging me to go and find a charging point. She was just a little bit thirsty! I still had 44 km to get to the choir practice and Rosie wasn’t going to do it. It would have been good if we had a second electric car to fall back on. That is not the case and so we had to use the Renault Kangoo which is what my wife drives, for the trip. At least I got to be chauffeured following my 240 km trip for the day. If I had just another 15 minutes to spare I would have pulled into a rapid charger on the way back. I did drive past five rapid chargers I could have used. If I hadn’t wasted time going up those tiny rat run streets in Cerét trying to find the parking place for the art museum, I’d have been okay. Had a fun day out driving Rosie in France and learned a few things along the way.

Type 2 or Granny Charging Speeds near Barcelona

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I went for a drive down the coast to check out a couple of charging points. I went to a place called Sant Pol de Mar and is not too far away from where Greg lives, the guy with the black 2018 Nissan Leaf. In the town there were three charging points to choose from and I went to all of them. The first two had two separate charging posts one with Shuko sockets and the other with two Mennekes sockets. In both cases the type 2 Mennekes sockets were not working. The other charging point was a little further inland and situated on the edge of an industrial estate. It was also right next to a petrol station. At least there was a shop there you could use to go buy provisions if you needed to. Of the two sockets the Type 2 socket was out of order. I needed to take a break, so I plugged in anyway and added 2% to the battery. It wasn’t really worth the bother, but at least I was able to go and use the facilities.

Chit Chat with a Leaf Owner

At the first place I stopped, I got talking to a guy who had a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf. He was just about to leave and I could have plugged in there after him if I’d wanted to. I still had plenty left in the battery and there was no point in taking him up on his offer. There was also a Kia Soul plugged into the same charger. With the slowness of the charging it would have been okay if you were going to stay there for the whole day. He also told me he expected the T2 Mennekes posts to be functional in the next month or so.
The second charging place I went to wasn’t quite so close to the beach, but still within the main part of town. It was quite a nice little area. There was a children’s playground as well as places you could get something to eat if you wanted to. Same thing again, two charging posts and only one of them working. Same again only the slow one giving any electricity out.
At the third stop I charged the car for a short while, just so I could stretch my legs for a few minutes. Not worth staying too long with the granny charging speed.

Time to move on and head in the direction of home.

I carried on until I got to Calella de Mar and I found another charging point. This one was better because it was two Type 2 sockets and both of them worked. I plugged in and took a walk down to the beach while waiting for the charging. You do have to pay for parking most of the day in this charger. I was lucky in that I turned up in between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock and it was free parking. The charging was also free. It’s certainly a good idea to read and take notice of any signs where you are charging. Otherwise you could end up with parking fines.

Renault Zoe Driver

A guy pulled up next to me in his Renault Zoe as I was about to leave and he had a chat with me. He seemed to be of the opinion there was something to do with the hour of 3 o’clock having an effect upon getting fined for parking. I’m sure he was wrong because I read the same post again and it was definitely free parking while I was there. In any case I rolled up my cables, put them into the boot of the car and went on my way.
I drove past a couple of other places where I could have plugging in to charge on my way home. It wasn’t necessary for me to stop as I’d got the battery level up to 84%. Still had 61% left when I pulled into the garage at home.

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EV Charging Roulette – On a Trip to France

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On Saturday it was a small day trip out with the EV. The plan was to go to a town near to the border and enjoy ourselves in a restaurant in which you can eat yourself silly if you want to. It’s a buffet style restaurant and cheap as well. It’s in a shopping centre which I’ve gone to before and used the Type 2 charging posts in the parking. On the previous occasion I was able to charge the car up quite a bit even though it’s only a Type 2 while getting something to eat. This time I wasn’t so lucky. When I got back to the car I found that the charging of the car hadn’t taken place. We has experienced EV Charging Roulette This was disappointing because we were planning to drive just across the border and needed that extra bit of charge.

EV Charging Roulette – Drive on or Drive Home

Although I wasn’t completely devastated on account of feeling tired I was still a little bit miffed. I had to make decisions based upon how much juice was in the battery – It was around about 39%. I could have continued the journey and charged in Perpignan. More EV Charging Roulette This was going out of my way because I wasn’t planning to drive that far. The town I was going to go to was out of the question because of only having slow chargers available at the destination. When I say slow, I really do mean slow chargers. I didn’t want to be stuck in a place for three or four hours waiting for the car to get enough charge to get back to the next charging point.

Double Checking the Charger

When I initially parked the car I did see some blue lights in the dash and also on the charging point. It looked like the car was charging. When I got back and found that nothing had happened while I was away I disconnected and tried again. I wanted to see where the problem was. Had I done something wrong? Perhaps I had accidentally touched some switches in the car and disabled the level 2 charging while away from home. I completely disconnected the cable from the car and the socket and did a fresh connection. I did this with the same socket and also with another one. I tried one that had worked for me before and again it looked like it was working and within one minute it stopped. I saw the blue light on the charger change back to green. It’s a bit of a shame because it’s a good place for me to stop when I’m travelling towards France.

EV Charging Roulette

The Problem with Three-Headed Rapids

Taking into account how I was feeling and all of the charging options available I decided it was better to head to back towards home. Fortunately I wasn’t too far away from Figueres where I’d have a choice of three rapid charging options. I decided to try out one of these where I’d had success before. When we arrived there was a car in the other charging bay and it was using the AC connector. I thought I would probably get some charge from this rapid charger, but I wasn’t sure how much it would be affected by the other car being charged. The battery wasn’t hot due to my driving or due to Rapidgate so I was expecting to pull in somewhere in the region of 35 kW.

Full Speed Ahead with the Nissan Dealership

After plugging in I saw the charging begin at 21 kW. This was obviously due to the other car being charged and not due to anything to do with the car. On account of there being other chargers in the vicinity I decided to move on. It was within 5 km to get to the Nissan dealership. It only took a couple of minutes to get there and I was soon charging at nearly twice the speed. Instead of needing nearly an hour to get the charge I required I was able to charge up in about 30 minutes or so. There are better facilities for the comfort break at the Nissan dealership. At least that’s the case during normal working hours.

The Presence of Passengers Affecting Charging Decisions

If I’d been on my own I may well have decided to keep going further north towards Perpignan. On account of having my wife and my mother-in-law in the car it was better to take the safer option. Another EV charging roulette option was to go to a 22kW rated charger in the small French town we were heading to originally. It would have been okay for the amount of time we planned to stay. It would have given us enough juice to drive back towards home and use one of the rapid chargers in Figueres or Girona.

Always Leave Home with a Full Battery – Less EV Charging Rouletter

Normally when thinking of doing a journey like this I’d had a full battery to start with. When I started out I think we only had around 85% to 95% and this was something else which affected my options available in La Jonquera. Next time I take that route towards France I may stop in the rapids before getting to the border for a quick top up. Then if I do have the same problem with the shopping centre chargers I won’t get quite so annoyed.
When I got back and plugged into the charger at home I was able to leave it overnight. The next morning I confirmed the problem wasn’t with the car we had a fully charged battery in my 2018 Nissan Leaf.

Add Ev Chargers To Plugshare – France

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I went for an end of January trip to France add EV chargers to Plugshare application. I set out from home with the Guess-o-Meter to telling me I had about 240 km in the battery. With the temperature being low I don’t get as many kilometres as I used to in the summertime. Last summer I used to be able to get approximately 260 km of range in my Nissan Leaf. I will also have lost a slight amount of overall range in the battery due to having used it to drive nearly 14,000 km. For the trip I had planned for the day I had plenty of range. No Worries! I have the application by Révéo and there were four charge points just across the border in France which were not in the PlugShare application. Just for the sake of having a drive in my Electric car I decided to go and check them out.

First Stop Was The Shopping Centre At La Jonquera

There are four charging points in the shopping centre. I have used these before and they are useful if you are staying there for a reasonable amount of time. I parked and used these charging points even though I didn’t really need the electricity. I also wasn’t staying there long enough to benefit too much. It’s much better if you’re travelling with your wife and there is shopping to be done. Or if you are planning to get some food and are taking about an hour for a break.

add EV chargers to plugshare

First EV Charging Stop at Maureillas-Las-Lllas

This first of the EV chargers to add to Plugshare was easy to find. I had the address in Waze which I had to copy out of the Apple Maps application. When I’m using PlugShare I get a choice of which application I want to use for my mapping. I like to use Waze because it is more of a drivers application than just simple maps. You get better information about what’s happening on the road and it’s better at giving you alternative directions when there are traffic jams. The Révéo application sent me into Apple maps and I had to do a copy of the destination from the pin point on the map. I pasted it into Waze and we were in business.

add EV chargers to plugshare

How to Activate Révéo EV Chargers

The charging post was in a car park next to a large building. It was some type of public building and there were a couple of entrances to the car park. It didn’t take long to spot the charging point which was of the usual type by Révéo. It’s a stainless steel, modern looking device which at first looks like it doesn’t have any sockets. You have to get past the security first. To gain access you put your RFID card in the gap underneath either one of the doors. When your RFID card is recognised, the door opens for you so you can plug in. It’s all really simple and this electric vehicle charging post doesn’t even need to have a screen. Révéo also have a different type of charging post which does have a screen, but works in a similar way. The advantage is you can see how long you’ve been charging for and how much energy is going in. With the Nissan Leaf you have the Leaf Spy Pro application which will show you the amount of energy going in. So perhaps you don’t need to have a screen on the charging device itself. It’s also possible to activate these chargers by using the app.
On this occasion I still had plenty of battery available in my car. I didn’t want to use the charger and spend one hour in this small French village. I had plans to go to other places. It was better for me to wait until nearer lunchtime and possibly get some food while stopped. It was a little bit too early in the day to fill my face.

It’s Easy To Add EV Chargers to PlugShare

In other applications you submit the charging post details and somebody at the application will say yes or no. Simple to add EV chargers to PlugShare. PlugShare seems to trust users are going to add correct information to the application. There are a number of things you can add to the charger information. Name, Description, Phone Number, Address, Map Pin Location, Stations, Access, Cost and Pricing, Hours and Amenities. There is a feedback section where you can report any inaccuracies. It’s all really simple, the stations you add are the type of sockets available. These charging posts by Révéo tend to have two Type 2 Mennekes type sockets and two Euro type Shuko plug sockets. The best way to add multiple sockets is to add one and then use the button to duplicate. Under the section for amenities you can say whether there are lodgings, dining rooms, EV parking, restrooms (toilets), shopping, grocery or Wi-Fi. When you have filled in all of these details of the charging post it’s available in PlugShare for users to find places to charge their car.

add EV chargers to plugshare

What3Words and 3WordPhoto Apps

I like to take a photograph of the charging point using the 3WordPhoto application to add a picture to the listing. When you add EV chargers to PlugShare it helps people find the charging post they’re looking for. Using the What3Words address available in the 3WordPhoto application puts the three words address overlaid on the image. This gives accuracy as to exactly where the charger is to within 3 metres. I’d like to see this integrated into the PlugShare application, although the system of using a map pin isn’t too bad. It doesn’t zoom in quite close enough on my iPhone, but it does more or less does the job.

Onwards to Le Boulou

add EV chargers to plugshare

Le Boulou is another small town not far away from my first stopping place. I think it’s amazing that these charging points are so numerous and so close together. If one is not available then you don’t have to go far to get to the next. This one wasn’t so easy to find. The address given by the Révéo application was incorrect. It was situated in a car park in another street on the other side of some railway tracks. I was only able to find it by parking my car and walking under the railway tracks through a tunnel for pedestrians. Then I have to move the car. I should really write to Révéo and let them know. When I added the photograph to the PlugShare listing I also gave it the What3Words address. This was – ///elevators.deductions.processors from the 3WordPhoto application which is close enough. I checked later using the What3Words application and it perhaps should have been ///brat.crimson.manifold. It doesn’t matter in the slightest because if you get to the three metres square on the map you will see the charging point right in front of you.
Job done and moving on to the next charging point. It was still too early for stopping and taking some lunch. Time to head West in the direction of the coast.

add EV chargers to plugshare

Révéo Charger at Saint Génis-des-Fontaines

At this destination there was an older type of Révéo charger. It’s a big metal box and not as pretty as the stainless steel ones. It still has doors locked in place to cover the sockets. It was the charging post which has a small screen on it. This charger was only approximately 8 km away from the previous one at Le Boulou. It was still early in the day and I didn’t need to connect with my cable. I added the details into PlugShare and included the What3Words address of ///bearded.knocked.tigress. Quite often when you get these addresses you get memorable words. This makes it easy to share the address with someone else. The whole idea behind this system is that you’re doing it with a set of three words rather than an unintelligible set of longitude and latitude numbers.

add EV chargers to plugshare

Added the Charger at Soréde to PlugShare

This next stopping point was at a small village again just a few kilometres away. A good day to add EV chargers to plugshare app. It had the same type of charging post as in the previous stop. There are some grubby toilets in the car park where the charging post is situated. You really wouldn’t want to use these unless you were totally desperate. Not even a proper toilet, just the horrible hole in the ground type. Doors were not included. While I was adding the charger to the PlugShare application a little man with extremely bad teeth came to talk to me. My French isn’t terribly good, but I know he was basically asking me if the car was electric. The village was very quiet and there was hardly anything there. If you are stopping there to charge your car then you are most likely going to stay in your car and relax. It would only take five minutes to have a walk around and check the village out. Nothing to stop you walking further though. Even if there’s nothing there at least it’s a good idea to go out and stretch your legs if you’ve been driving for a long period. At least you get to move some blood around your body and get some fresh air into your lungs.

add EV chargers to plugshare

Onwards Towards Argeles sur Mer And Another Révéo Charger

At this stop I was starting to get a little bit peckish. I didn’t see any places I wanted to stop and grab a bite to eat although I did find a Lidl. So I went in just to grab a snack from their bakery counter. I plugged into the Révéo charger and it was an easy process to activate. The charging bay next to where I was parked had been ICED and while I was adding the details to the application the driver came back. My French isn’t good enough for me to have a discussion with him. He did get the message though and spent a couple of minutes reading the sign next to the charger. After he had pulled out and I was still adding details, a driver in another car was thinking about pulling in. I waved my finger and shook my head and she got the message too. There were plenty of other parking spaces nearby. It was just laziness on the part of both of those drivers.

add EV chargers to plugshare

Huge Disappointment With The Révéo Charger at Argeles sur Mer

I came back to my car approximately 48 minutes later to discover there was hardly any difference to the battery level. I knew the charging speed was only 3 kW according to the charging details on the screen. The percentage of battery only went up by 2% which was not worth the €1.50 I paid for charging. You’d have to be at this charger for a long time to get any juice into your battery. During the daytime until 9 PM there is a cost per minute as well as the initial charge of €1.50 or €3 if you don’t have the RFID card. This works out very expensive and I don’t plan on using this type of charger again in a hurry. I think there is a possibility with the newer stainless steel type Révéo chargers you do get a faster charging speed. I’ll give one of those a try on my next journey into France. If you were desperate to get some charge into your battery then you might use one of these chargers. It could be worthwhile to plug-in at 9 PM in the evening and charge overnight. It goes back to charging per minute at 7 AM in the morning. You would get 10 hours of charging for €1.50/€3 while you were sleeping.

DC charging vs AC charging

Although the DC chargers are more rare it could be better to go looking for those instead. It’s possible to set the search in the application for just CHAdeMO sockets. This is okay as long as there is one of these DC chargers available on the route you plan to take for your journey. According to the Révéo application the chargers I was using were supposed to be 22 kW capable. This is something else I need to talk to the Révéo people about to find out why my Nissan leaf is only pulling in 3 kW on these chargers. It should be pulling in the 6.6 kW the car is capable of.

Time To Head Home

When I left Argeles sur Mer I had just over 50% in the battery and there was plenty to get me to the Nissan dealership in Figueres. It was only about 60 km away and I had more than 100 km available. When I arrived at the Nissan garage I had 26% in the battery. I stayed there for about 30 minutes and charged to just over 75%. This gave me more than enough to drive the distance back home. I was running short on time as I needed to get back to walk the dog. If I’d have had more time I would have stopped in Girona at the rapid charger at the south of the city. This was close to my route back home and it would have meant I would have had less charging of the battery to do with my own electric from the house during the night. The monetary difference would only have been around one euro so it wasn’t really worth the bother of stopping.

Successful Electric Vehicle Road Trip To France

I was able to add five EV chargers to PlugShare during my trip to France. The trip was a disappointment and unsuccessful in terms of getting any electricity from the Révéo charging point I decided to use. I drove 260 km and it was fun to drive around pretty French villages just to the north of the Pyrenees. I’m looking forward to my next trip to France. Next week I’ll probably take a trip towards Barcelona. There are a couple of charging points I would like to test out in that direction. The good thing about getting the vehicle charged in Barcelona is there are a lot of free EV chargers. It was a good drive to add EV chargers to PlugShare.

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Electric Car Road Trip in a Nissan Leaf

EV20Q Podcast
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EV20Q Podcast 49 – Révéo Charging in France

It was another electric car road trip day and this time to France. I recently received the Révéo RFID card and I wanted to test it out. On my last trip in a northerly direction to do the testing I wasn’t able to get past the traffic jams to get into France. I wasn’t sure if it was the roadworks taking place on the French side to widen the bridge or if it was the yellow vest protesters being revolting. On this day out we did see some of the yellow vest revolutionaries by the side of the road as we were coming back onto the motorway in the direction of Spain. It looked like they were busy doing some cleaning up and they were not stopping traffic from flowing. We got lucky!

A Surreal Charging Point on my Electric Vehicle Road Trip

The first part of the trip was to drive to Figueres which is the hometown of Salvador Dali. I have visited the Dalí museum three or four times and I have a couple of favourite paintings in there. Our interest on the trip was less of surrealist art, more about putting some electrons into Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf. On the outskirts of town there’s the Nissan dealership and it’s a good place to stop for charging. The CHAdeMO charger is easy to get to and not hidden away inside the workshop or within a compound. So it’s available 24-hours seven days a week. We stayed for about half an hour, maybe a little less and added a decent amount into the battery. I think we arrived with about 68% of battery and left with something in the region of 90%. The dealership was open and we had a look at an NV200 van which was converted into a camper. I’d certainly have one of these as an electric propelled eNV200 campervan. If you don’t mind doing a conversion by hand, it would probably work out a lot cheaper to buy the van and put the bits and pieces in yourself.

Leaf in the Dealership showroom

Crossing the Border into France

The road between Spain and France at the coast is interesting and winding. Good roads for an electric car road trip. Even though I had to drive slowly, I enjoyed the trip through Portbou. We stopped in a couple places here and there to take photos and shoot video. Just across the border we drove into a town called Cerbére. As it was time for lunch we were happy to plug in and charge the car. Found one of the Révéo chargers we were looking for, in a car park by the beach. The parking was free due to it being winter and there was a pizza place on the other side of the road. Disappointing the charge was going in to the car quite slowly. Much too slowly for a charger rated at 22 kW in the Révéo app. Using my new Révéo RFID card with a €1.50 connection charge and two cents per minute after the hour meant that even with a slow charge it wasn’t too expensive. For just over an hour its cost €1.78. It would be more cost-effective to find one of the CHAdeMO chargers on the same network. These destination type chargers are still useful for the grazing type charging. It’s good to add to the battery while you’re doing something else, like getting food or having a walk around the town.

electric car road trip

Collioure Tourist Trap and Charging Spot

After filling our faces with tasty pizza it was time to move on to the next town on our electric car road trip. The next town was Collioure and it was full of tourists, a harbour and a castle. The charge points were right next to the castle and there were two bays available. Both of these charging spots were empty and we took up position. We asked a local police officer if the parking was free while charging and they said yes. Once again I used the RFID card from Révéo to activate the charger. It was an easy operation to get the charger working. Spent a little over an hour walking around the town and exploring. We were connected to the charger for one hour and five minutes and the cost was €1.62.

electric car road trip - Collioure in France

EV Hole Kona Electric Driver

When we got back to the car we spotted a Hyundai Kona which looked pretty cool. He was also on an electric car road trip. Had a quick look around and it’s not got quite as much room in the back seats as my Nissan Leaf. It would be a good car to have with the larger 64 kWh battery. I certainly would have considered it if it had been available at the same time as I was buying the Nissan Leaf. With the extra battery available it would have probably cost another €5000 or €6000 more than my Leaf. Probably would have been worth paying the extra money for the bigger battery even though for the most part I don’t need it with my Nissan. In terms of value for money and the fact the Kona is available now I would say it’s a better deal than the Tesla Model 3. I think the overriding factor which would make you choose a Tesla rather than the Hyundai would be the network of superchargers you get with a Tesla.

Transport and Fuel – It’s All About To Change

It was obvious the Hyundai Kona driver was new to the realm of electric vehicle ownership. He had pulled into the electric charging bay for the Révéo charger and was not plugged in. It would have been good manners to have either plugged in or use a normal parking spot. Another EV driver on a electric car road trip arriving at the charging place would have been disappointed on being unable to plug-in due to this EV-Hole. An ICE-Hole is a driver of a fossil fuel car parking in a EV charging place. An arse-hole is just a bad person. Let’s hope people like this learn EV etiquette quickly. In the transition period between the majority of cars being fossil fuelled and the passage towards a fully electric vehicle environment there’s going to be pain points. The number of charging points will have to increase to take into account of the increasing number of EV’s on the road. The behaviour of drivers will have to change to take into account the new usage of energy/fuel.

Shopping and Charging – Or Not

On the move again and instead of heading back the way the same way, we took the easier route back on the main roads and motorways. A relaxed drive using Pro Pilot Assist in my 2018 Nissan Leaf called Rosie. It was a good day for am electric car road trip. We arrived in Girona and pulled into the shopping centre to use the facilities. My wife can’t resist a whizz around the shops looking for bargains. There are four charging points in this shopping centre, but we couldn’t get into the parking underneath easily. Annoyingly, a long queue of cars for the main car park where the charge points are situated. So we didn’t bother going in as we easily had enough power to get home. Plenty of charge in the battery so we used another car park which was easier to get into. Fortunately didn’t have to stay there too long. I’ve had enough of shopping to last me a long time over the last couple of weeks. The only shop of interest was the one selling personal electric vehicles. The single wheel Segway types, electric scooters and bicycles looked like fun.

Overview of the Electric Car Road Trip

When we got home there was about 20% left in the Leaf battery. To fill it back to 100% would cost around about €2.50. I reckon the total cost for driving 276 km was about €5.90. Even factoring in the cost of eating pizza while out it was a cheap day out for the number of kilometres driven. You have to feed yourself anyway during the day, so let’s not count the food costs. Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a joy to drive as well as being highly economical. During the winter it is great to make use of the heated seats when on an electric vehicle road trip. Seat heating takes very little electricity and has a negligible effect on the range of the car. Even using the car heating it only takes between 6km to 8km off the Guess-o-Meter range.


Nissan Leaf long-distance driving and Rapidgate


During the year since the 2018 Nissan Leaf came out, some people have complained about the throttled charging on a long trip. I can honestly say it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. Usually, this is due to the necessary stops due to bladder range. If there’s a charging spot available you might as well plug in and add electrons to the battery during a 15 to 20 minutes stop. After an hour or so of driving it’s good to stretch your legs anyway. I usually find with such a stop I have still got 50% to 60% left in the battery. The battery isn’t too warm from having been used hard during driving. In any case, a relaxed style of driving keeping the speed under 102 km/h on the motorway isn’t working the battery too hard. It’s often true with the second stop of the day that it’s time for food. This usually means a break of about one hour and that’s plenty of time to put more juice into the battery before driving on. Depending upon the speed of the charge, this will bring the battery back up to nearly 100% and ready for the next stage of the journey. If the charge speed is throttled back on a second or third charging it’s also highly likely you’ll be more in need of extra time to recuperate from the driving. The rapid charger might be slower, but you’ll be taking advantage of that with a longer rest period. I reckon Nissan got it right with the battery management for the large majority of Leaf owners.

Optimum Driving and Charging

People who might complain about Rapidgate and the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be those who are in a hurry to get someplace. Perhaps they have more than one driver, meaning it’s easy to have short breaks on the journey before driving on further. Someone driving a vehicle as part of their job and having time constraints might need a longer range vehicle. For the average person on an electric car road trip Rapidgate is not really going to be much of a consideration. There are enough charging points on a route these days, especially through France it seems. More charging points are being situated during 2019 in Spain. So it works well to use the grazing type of charging as you travel on your electric car road trip. By not letting the battery get down too low it’s not working so hard and the temperature is kept low. Having short charging stops means you are not waiting too long when the charging speed has tapered down after 80%. This also helps to keep the battery temperature lower. The optimum charging speeds are found when charging the battery from 20% up through to 80%.

2019 Nissan Leaf Coming Soon

The new Nissan Leaf is going to be announced at CES in the U.S. in January. There are already rumours flying around about improvements made to the car. It’s expected there will be a battery in the region of 64 kWh coming from a different manufacturer. Even though the car hasn’t been announced properly there are rumours suggesting there will be no liquid temperature management of the battery. Electric car pundits and journalists are complaining about this even without knowing any of the details. We’ll have to wait and see and make our mind up when the car actually hits the road. I expect the car journalists will do a more thorough testing of the car than they did with the 2018 Nissan Leaf. There was a honeymoon period with the 2018 car when none of the journalists mentioned anything to do with the charging speeds. The Nissan Leaf was still ahead of the game with regards the technology and the comparative pricing. When the new version is announced in 2019 there will be other competitors to compare the car against. As well as the Tesla Model 3 there is the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia eNiro as well as an updated Hyundai Ioniq.

What Improvements Would I Like to See

I’d like to see a faster AC charging speed for the next Leaf. The built-in charging should be increased from the 6.6 kW to the 22 kW as you see in the https://ev20q.com/ev-nicolas-raimo-renault-zoe-driver/Renault Zoe. This should make a big difference driving the car around in France. For the moment the Nissan Leaf is still the biggest selling electric car worldwide, although that might change soon with the speed with which tester is making the Model 3.

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Electric vehicle cross-border driving – Or not?

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Another RFID Card

On account of receiving the new RFID card for Reveo which is an energy group for electric vehicle charging points in the south of France, I decided to take a trip to test it out. Started the day with a full charge which I have noted is less at this time of the year than it was in the summertime. The guess-o-meter now tends to show me approximately 250 to 260 km on a full charge. In summer it could be as much as 280km. The weather isn’t too cold here, so I wonder how things are for people with electric vehicles in more severe climates. So off I set on a mission to drive into France to the nearest Reveo charge point. I have the application from Reveo to help me find their charging stations. It can be used for the charge point activation too. I quickly saw there were five charging points to choose from just across the border. The cost of charging was going to be €1.50 for one hour and then after that it would cost 2.5 cents per minute. The charge points were rated at 22 kW delivery and I was interested to find out if I got that much in my Nissan Leaf. On my last visit to France when I went to Céret the station there was rated at 22 kW in the application, but was only delivering approximately 3 kW. On that occasion I used the Sodetrel/Izivia card and I didn’t have a good experience with the charging or the price. It ended up costing me €4.50 and it is a complete mystery as to why it was that much. I think it could have cost less if I had used the Newmotion RFID card instead.

Getting blocked at the border

On the drive towards the border I drove next to the motorway for some of the way. As I got closer to the border I could see a large queue of lorries on the AP7 building up. Just before I got into La Jonquera I joined a queue of traffic which was going very slowly and for a few minutes was stopped completely. There was some distance to go before I could get into France and get past this blockage, so I decided to do a U-turn and look for a different route. I pulled off just a short way back on a road suggested by Waze. This took me through a ford on a road going over towards the other side of the motorway. I took a short break on the other side and checked the map and decided the re-routing wasn’t going to do me any favours. It was only bringing us past a couple of roundabouts and back into the queue again. I decided it was a much better idea to head back home and give up for the day.

Driving through a ford near La Jonquera. Motorway in the background.

Testing rapid chargers in Figueres

On my last trip I tested out a rapid charger at the Nissan dealer in Figueres and I could have gone back to that one again. However, there is another rapid charger in the centre which needed to be tested. I was there before and was disappointed because it was in place but not yet commissioned. The electricity hadn’t been turned on. I had received word from the Ajuntament in a reply to an email asking about the charger to say that it was now working. I has a plan to follow – a rapid to try out.

On arriving at the charger, a car was pulling into the charging bay and it was an ICE, Infernal Combustion Engine vehicle. To be fair, he was only half on the green painted bay for the charging point. I got out of my car and tapped on his window and asked if I could pull in to access the electric vehicle charging point. I gave him space to reverse back from the charging bay. He moved out of the way and left a space reason for me to reverse into.

This rapid charger is a large electric vehicle charging point. It is set in between two charging bays, one in the front and one at the rear. The charging bay at the rear is suitable for front loader cars like the Nissan Leaf or the Hyundai Kona. The charging bay at the front can really only be used by cars which have the charging socket at the rear of the car. The road is a one-way street so it would be difficult to turn the car around to make use of the other bay if the one you wanted was in use. Mind you, it might not make too much of a difference if the machine was already being used in the DC mode. Perhaps if someone was charging a Renault Zoe with AC then the DC connections could be available. I kind of think that the rapid charger wasn’t put in the best place. It could have been better in a more open car park area. On the plus side, there were facilities available next to the charging point.

Charging point facilities

The charging point was next to a fruit shop and a couple of supermarkets. Just around the corner there were three or four restaurants of various types. Also in the vicinity there were two or three cake shops where you could perhaps also get a drink of something. Not only that, there was a small park area and benches you could sit on to watch the world go by. For this reason this rapid charger gets the best marks for chargers in the town. When you go to the other ones there’s not much available to distract you while the car is being charged.

Activating the rapid charger in Figueres

On this occasion I used the RFID card from Barcelona. There is also a card you can get from the Figueres Ajuntament. I saw on the instructions on the machine it’s also possible to use an app to activate the charge point. I don’t have that application on my phone. I do have several others, just like RFID cards I seem to be collecting them. The electric vehicle charger works really well and it didn’t take long for my car to suck in plenty of electrons. I had a walkaround to stretch my legs while waiting. To stop the charger from charging you put your card back up to the card reader on the machine.

 EV charging Catalonia

Taking advantage of free electric

I decided to continue on the route back home via Girona and use one of the rapid chargers available there. I headed for the charger at Girona South. This charger is situated in the car park and there are no facilities nearby. It would be possible to walk to shops not too far away, but you wouldn’t have time to do anything while there. Walking to the shops and then walking back would be long enough for the amount of time you have available on the charge point. Lucky for me, I had my new 12V car kettle. This is a small kettle I got from Amazon and it seems to work fairly well. It heated the water up to the proper temperature to make tea. It seemed to take a long time to heat the water up, but it worked. Happy days!

When I got back home I’d covered around about 185 km. Because I stopped in Girona and topped up the battery, when I got home I still had about 75%. This means my driving for the day was extremely cheap. Topping the battery up to 100% using the cheaper night-time electricity cost me less than one euro. A day out for next to nothing! The joys of driving an electric car, especially the Nissan Leaf. I know I did go off last week to see the Tesla Model 3 in Barcelona, but I still love Rosie, my car.

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EV Public Charging – In Charge in France

EV public charging France – All the Options

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

Thank goodness for Newmotion

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

My latest trip to France to a small town called Céret

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

Autumn driving an electric vehicle through the foothills of the Pyrenees

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

Each EV charging point seems different from the last

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

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

The cost of charging electric vehicles using EV public charging

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

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

I wuz Robbed…

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

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

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The truth about using electric vehicle public chargers

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

Plugging in at the dealerships

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

Travelling home from France

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

EV public charging

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

My costs for the daytrip

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

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My Electric Car Charging

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Excuses to drive my electric car

During the summer time I drive my electric car every day of the week driving to and from work. Now that I’m off work for some months I don’t have anywhere I need to get to daily. I can quite easily spend three or four days at home in the house doing my stuff. If I don’t get out I go kind of stir crazy and so this is one of the reasons why I do my road trips. My excuse for the road trip is to go and locate electric vehicle rapid chargers and test them to see if they work. The reason to do this is when I’m out on a trip going someplace and I could have some sort of time-limit I want to have easy access and no hassle finding electrons.

my electric car
My Electric Car

When I first got my car, fairly shortly afterwards I needed to collect family from the airport. At that time I didn’t have all of the applications or RFID cards necessary. I wanted to put some charge into the battery to help me feel confident of getting back home again. I had already wasted some kilometres by taking wrong turns looking for chargers. I thought I was late for picking up my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren. As it happened, I wasn’t late but I was still kind of stressed. I hadn’t been able to add charge to the battery on the way there due to getting a little bit lost. I tried to connect to a charge point which I found after picking up my passengers. I wasn’t successful and I had to mollycoddle the car back home again. I got back with 3% left in the battery and I breathed a sigh of relief. During the drive in my electric car I did feel fairly confident I would do it, going by the number of kilometres I needed to travel compared to the numbers in the guess-o-meter. Despite this I do feel the need to be more sure of where I can find suitable charging points on my travels. It’s for this reason I’ve been making trips to Barcelona to see which charge points work and which ones don’t. It’s also good to know which of these charging points are free of cost to use. We’re in a good situation at the moment with rapid chargers in Barcelona in that most of them are free to use. There are some in Repsol gasolineras/ petrol stations and I have used one of them when I had dire need for my electric car.

In order to keep the costs down what I like to do is to find the charging point which is closest to home and get a good fill of free electrons. I can then arrive back home after a days driving around the city and it will only cost me one euro and at most two Euro, to get the car back to 100% battery level. The nearest free rapid charger on this side of Barcelona is about 68 km away. Typically I can arrive back home with between 50% and 60% of battery left in my electric car. If I only have to fill up 40% of the battery the cost to me for that is approximately one euro.

Charging my electric car at a supermarket equiped with destination chargers

On some occasions when coming back from Barcelona I could be getting kind of tired by that stage. Unless I need to stop for other reasons I will keep driving. I always don’t feel like it’s worth the hassle of taking any sort of detour to get to a rapid charger for the sake of one euro.

My latest trip to Barcelona

What I do is to have a look at PlugShare and choose a rapid charger I want to go and visit with my electric car. This time I chose one 94 km away which is about an hour of driving. The first one was in Carreterra de Fra Juniper Serra and not too far away from La Maquinista shopping centre. The idea was to go and check this one out and also go to the shopping centre so I could have a look at the new iPads and Mac Book Air computers.

I arrived at the rapid charger and it was fairly easy to find. It is in a slightly industrial area of Barcelona, but at the same time it didn’t seem like it was a dodgy place. There was a post office vehicle parked in the EV charging bay. I only had to wait less than a minute and the driver moved his vehicle. The other charging bay was occupied with an infernal combustion engine vehicle. It was okay because he was using his hazard warning lights. It was extra okay because I’d since found the rapid charger was out of operation. I looked at the screen and the lights were on but nobody was at home. I pressed buttons and waved my RFID card at it with no success.

I rang up the Ajuntament and gave them the information that the rapid charger was broken. The guy I spoke to, was aware of the problem with the charger and he tried to be helpful. He wanted to suggest to me rapid chargers nearby and hoped I had enough kilometres left in the battery to get there. I was grateful to find a sympathetic voice even though I still had plenty of battery left in my 2018 Nissan Leaf. Thanked him and told him I would consult with the PlugShare application to find the next location. In any case, I had planned to drive my electric car to the La Maquinista shopping centre.

As I drove into the car park for the shopping centre I noticed something was wrong straightaway. I needed to get to the minus one level and the entrance was blocked and we were guided down into level minus 2. I did find a way to sneak back up one level so I could go and park at the EV charging points. It seems they were doing some work in that minus one level which is why it was blocked off.

I got onto the intercom which is necessary to get someone to come down with an RFID card to start the charger. I don’t particularly like the way they have got this set up. There are other shopping centres I been to and all you need to do is to plug-in. There was one where I had to plug in and then go to the information desk to register and they were able to turn on the charging from there. It just seems a little ridiculous and extra work for their security people having to use a system of calling up with an intercom. There aren’t even any signs in the electric vehicle charging area telling you of the need to make the call. The guy at the other end of the intercom just told me that the chargers were still out of order. I was not impressed as they’ve been out of order for at least a month. At least they do have some chargers there and they have plans to make them work. There are other shopping centres who haven’t yet made the effort at all to install chargers.

Tea and carrot cake

I left my electric car parked in the electric vehicle parking bay even though I wasn’t plugged in. Why not, it’s not as if I was going to annoy somebody else by blocking a functioning charge bay. The new iPads were on display in the Apple Store and they had me licking my lips and wanting to buy one. I won’t be making a purchase because the iPad Pro I have still is giving me good service. I’ve decided to wait until next year. I also checked out the MacBook Air which is also tempting. Most of the writing I do is using dictation and I need a Mac to do that. I can use my iMac at home, but that does tie me to sitting at the desk in the office. DragonDictate would be more useful on a portable machine. It’s a shame I can’t get it to go on the iPad. The Siri dictation available on iOS works fairly well but is nowhere near as good as the professional dictation you get with DragonDictate.

At least I was able to visit the Starbucks in the shopping centre and grab a decent cup of tea and a fairly okay slice of carrot cake. I can’t stand coffee and it’s not that easy to find places selling tea here in Spain. I’m thinking of buying a 12 V kettle to use in my Nissan Leaf. That would be pure bliss. There should be tea making facilities in all electric cars not just my electric car.

Time to move on – two charging places down and still no charging done. I looked at the map in PlugShare for a charger nearby. I saw there was one not too far away at Sant Andreu. I set the GPS and Waze to help me drive there. I did get caught out going down a couple of small rat run type of roads. The charging point is situated behind a bus station and is also next to a metro entrance. It’s right next to a main road. I was hoping to find some public toilets, but I was out of luck. In these situations the only choice you have is to go and find a café or bar.

In terms of charging my electric car I was lucky because the two charging bays were both free and no one was using the charger. The charger was functioning and available to use. The parking and charging limit in these EV spots is 30 minutes although you might get away with just a little bit longer. I was able to add over 11 kWh to the battery in the time I stayed there. I was probably charging for around about 20 minutes. At this stage I’d got plenty of juice in the battery for as much driving around Barcelona as I was going to do and also enough to easily get me back home again.

Still some more checking and testing to be done.

There is a road I often take going through the city when I’m heading to the airport called Ronda de Dalt. I spotted there was a rapid charger on this road and not too far away from where I was already charging. It was definitely worth going and have a look. This was at the Mercat de Canyelles. It was an easy drive to get to this place and I was expecting to plug in just to test it. I was disappointed to find it was another charging point out of action. While I was there I did get chatting to a little old man who was interested in my electric car. He was asking me all sorts of questions about the car and how to charge the battery.

So I logged the inability to charge the car into the crowd sourced PlugShare application. However, I was undeterred in my search for active chargers around Barcelona. I saw there was another one not too far away on the same road and it was near to the consulate for the Republic of China. How useful is that??

Charging my car in Barcelona

Stopping at Vallacarca I els Penitents rapid charger was easy enough. I nearly missed it because I was in the left-hand lane and I needed to be into the right-hand lane. Fortunately there was a lull in the traffic and I was able to pull over into one of the two available charge bays. The charger was working and not being used by anybody else. I was at about 83% charge in the car and I didn’t really need any more. On the other hand, I did need to find some facilities. So I plugged in and took a walk and I found a couple of café’s and bars nearby. In the café I chose, I ordered some food and had to wait ages for it. It was for this reason I stayed at the charging point for longer than I wanted. The charge would have been going in very slowly due to the high level of charge already in the battery. I couldn’t leave though as I had to wait for the food to arrive and then scoff it. When I got back to Rosie the battery level was back up to about 95%.

Somebody had pulled in to the other charging bay who was driving a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The driver and hadn’t tried using the AC cable. Or maybe he had? I don’t really know which connection the Mitsubishi uses. With only having a small battery am guessing it would be AC. Sometimes with these triple headed rapid chargers the AC charging is still available even if somebody is using one of the DC adapters. Maybe he was just taking advantage of a free parking space. Parking can be quite difficult in Barcelona.

Moving on and finding another rapid charger

The Catalan TV station TV3 is in Barcelona and there are a couple of charging points next to the entrance. I drove to this rapid charger and had a look, but I didn’t bother plugging in. No point apart from just testing to see if it was in order. There was also a plug-in point next to it for motorcycles which could be used by a car driver, but would be very slow to use. I kept driving after spotting the charger.

Not far away Otto Diesel – Nissan dealership

So far I’ve not had too much luck with getting charged at Nissan dealers. There is the Nissan dealership next to the la Maquinista shopping centre which I have used once. The Otto Diesel (what an unfortunate name) dealership is on the far side of Barcelona from me which is not too far away from Barcelona airport. I decided it would be worth checking out the rapid charger. I still had plenty of juice in the battery so I just got out of the car to have a quick look. I saw that the rapid charger was inside the compound so it’s only available during opening times. I also saw that it was not broken and in working order. I’m sure I could have charged up there if I’d have tried.

At the Otto Diesel Nissan Dealership in Barcelona.

I think it’s about time Nissan put their money where their mouth is. They really need to make sure all of the rapid chargers are in working order at the dealers. I would also like to see them add charging bays available 24/7 at all dealerships. These should be Type 2 sockets available to all Nissan electric vehicle drivers. If they want to keep it to just Nissan owners they could do it with a QR code and an app. Or there could be a system where you just have them available because the charger knows when you are plugging in a Nissan Leaf or a Nissan eNV200. Just the same way as someone with a Tesla can easily plug in and use a Tesla supercharger. In these early days of electric vehicles in Spain and everywhere else, this could make a huge difference. We want more people driving electric cars. Save our lungs and out health generally.

There were other rapid charges nearby I would like to have checked out. But, I was getting a bit tired so I decided I would head home. The plan was to catch one more charge at the rapids closer to home. Just to make use of the free electric. I pulled into a charger I’d used before at Cabrera de Mar. As I drove into the car park I saw there was a Renault Zoe already plugged in and charging. No problem, the Zoe uses the AC connection and I was able to check in with the CHAdeMO. A little bit of a walk around the town to stretch my legs, before jumping back into my car and driving the last bit back home.

As per my plan I did arrive back home with more than 50% still in the battery. All of my charging during the day was free. I drove 250 km approximately and to top back up to the 100% cost me less than two Euro. This is easily one of the best benefits of driving an electric vehicle.


Charging Electric Barcelona

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The Barcelona Merry-Go-Round

Today was road trip day. I decided to go and check out a couple more rapid chargers in Barcelona. Set out from home with the GPS coordinates set for a charger near to Poblenou, Vila Olimpica. It’s a 99 km journey and would take about an hour. I ended up doing a few kilometres extra due to turning off at junction 23 and not quite getting the next turn left correct. I had to do a left turn, followed by a keep left with an immediate left turn into a petrol station. I didn’t think the chargepoint would be in the petrol station – I was so wrong about that. So I had to drive back to junction 24, do a U-turn and try again. On the second try I couldn’t see the charger straightaway so I pulled up to one side of the petrol station and parked the car. I got out and had a quick walk around and soon found the rapid charger I was looking for.

Getting the CHAdeMO plugged in

The rapid charging point was a triple headed charger with CCS, CHAdeMO and an AC plug. It was one of the Barcelona Live chargers and it was activated with the Barcelona Live electric vehicle charging card. I did try the Girona RFID card first. I don’t know why I keep bothering to try because never seems to work anywhere else apart from Girona. The plug for the CHAdeMO was one of those with a lever. I found out you have to push the lever away from the plug and then firmly push the plug into the socket in the car. This lever then will click into a holding point so it is securely in position. I didn’t get it right the first time, but now I know how to do it after getting it right the second time. Woo Hoo…

Rapid Charging In Barcelona

I spent a couple of minutes messing around taking photos. I like to add photos to PlugShare, the crowd sourced electric charge point app. During this five or 10 minutes the battery went very quickly from about 54% to 70%. When I looked at the car computer information for the charging I could see it was going in at about 28 kW and it must have been going in faster than that to begin with. I stayed there charging for around about 24 minutes and I added 11.25 kWh into the battery. I think it got me up to approximately 84% or 85% of battery and it was time to move on.

Heading south towards the market

There were seven or eight charging bays

There is a public charger inside a car park which according to the PlugShare app is at a shopping centre. I thought I’d be able to use the facilities and maybe grab something to eat. There was a café nearby, but I decided not to use the charger after all. It wasn’t very far away from the previous charger and I still had plenty juice in the battery of the car. I stopped and had a good look at the rapid charger and I was quite impressed with the facilities there. It seems that it is a work in progress though. The rapid charger is at the bay closest to the exit of the car park at ground level. Due to the layout, only one bay is available for charging at the rapid. There was however, two type 2 chargers with cables even though there were seven or eight charging bays. I can only think they’re going to add more of these chargers at some point in time. At the moment it’s only possible to have three cars charging at any one time. You do have to pay for the parking at three cents per minute, but the chargers are free to use. On the other hand, there is a barrier you have to go through to get into this markets area which costs €2.10. If you stay in the car park for 45 minutes it’s quite cheap to charge your car. Better if you can charge using the rapid charger to get more electricity into the battery quicker.there were seven or eight charging bays

EV charging Barcelona

Moving On To The Airport Barcelona

There is an AMB charger not far away from Barcelona Airport. I tried to use it before, but was unable to do so. I didn’t have the application on my phone first time and the second time I didn’t know how to use the application. I have used the AMB application on a few occasions since then. It was necessary for me to ask for help on Twitter or Facebook to find out how to use the app. Today I pulled up at the charging point and plugged in. In no time at all I was filling up the battery of my Nissan Leaf 2018 model. My car is called Rosie because she is red and beautiful. While Rosie was charging I used this opportunity to use one of the three café’s next to the roundabout where the charger is situated. During the daytime it’s a good place to go and use the facilities and get some food and drink while your car is hooked up to the CHAdeMO or CCS. There is also another charging post and although I didn’t look I think there are two Type 2 sockets contained within. Next time I go, I’ll have a proper look. Even though the Mennekes slower it’s useful to have them there just in case the CHAdeMO connection is being used.

charging electric barcelona

Heading back home – Hoping to be at home in time for the Apple event

Initially I put in the details to stop at a supermarket in Tordera which has a set of Type 2 chargers. This would be a very handy place to stop and do a bit of free filling up before the last stage to home. As I got close to the town I changed my mind and continued back to my house. If I’d stopped I would have missed more than the 15 minutes already accounted for of the start of the Apple event.

I am an Apple enthusiast, using an iMac, iPhone and iPad which is complemented by an Apple Watch on my wrist. I was pleased to see the Apple Mac Mini computer has finally been updated. My very first Apple computer was a Mac Mini. In fact I still have it upstairs and it’s in perfect working order even if it doesn’t run the latest operating system. It was from before the change to Intel processors. That’s how old it is.

Successful Rapid Charging – 2018 Nissan Leaf

On my last few trips to Barcelona to check out the rapid charging facilities in the city I have had great success. I feel much more confident now about travelling to Barcelona and finding somewhere to plug the car in. Even with a trip to the far side of Barcelona, to the airport for instance, it is possible to do the trip without using a public charger. I drive like a granny and I don’t drive like I stole the car. Due to my easy-going driving style and the range of the 2018 Nissan Leaf 40 kWh battery I don’t really have to worry. I just find it useful to take a few minutes while I’m having a quick break from driving to add some extra kilometres of range.

If there are possibilities for charging on the route then it’s a good idea to take advantage of them. You never know if there will be an accident on the road or roadworks leading to you having to make a detour. In a situation like that you could find yourself going from being confident of getting home to being just a little bit worried. It’s not much fun to experience range anxiety. I got my car in end of May/beginning of June and I’ve driven 9500 km approximately. I haven’t had any bad moments of worry. Indeed, there was one day when I drove 500 km going across the border into France. So it’s easy for me to say the 2018 Nissan Leaf is more than just a car for driving around a city. With the right infrastructure and the sufficiently large battery capacity it’s certainly good enough for long trips.

Leaving Rosie at home for a few days

Tomorrow I’ll be taking a trip to the mountains and going to Les Angles, where I’ve already driven Rosie to. On this occasion we are going in my wife’s car which is powered by fossil fuels. I would have liked to help her buy the electric version of the Renault Kangoo, but my funds wouldn’t stretch that far. Her next car will have to be electric. Due to the fact we have a lot of stuff to carry, we will be taking the dog with us and also the possibility of snow in the mountains Rosie will be staying at home. My wife already has the snowshoes for her car. My dog is losing hair like mad at the moment which would really mess up my car. If it’s wet up in the mountains I don’t fancy having a dirty wet dog jumping into the back seat. I think Rosie will thank me for leaving her behind this time.

Les Angles in France. 

Easy and Free Charging Electric Cars In Barcelona

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RFID cards and apps for activating charge points

I decided to go on another trip to Barcelona to test out various charging points around the city. I wanted to look at activating charge points with RFID cards and applications. I took delivery of a card from Sant Cugat de Vallés which was sent out from the Ajuntament for the town. I got this after trying to use the Barcelona Live electric vehicle charge card. That didn’t work and I think it should have. I also believe there should be some way for non-residents of the town to pull in and get the charger working. Maybe if there was a notice on the machine which said call into the bar opposite to get a card to use the charging. It would still limit the charger to when the bar was open. Even so, it would be good business for the bar and the town. People would be spending money while waiting for their car to charge up. Next time I go there I might even suggest to a bar owner or a restaurant owner nearby to apply for the card. Good for charging electric cars.

It was an easy drive down to Sant Cugat de Vallés and I took the motorway route. When I arrived there were no cars parked in the charging spots. Happy days! Pulled straight in and it didn’t take long before I was charging up my 2018 Nissan Leaf. The only difficulty was the sun on the screen of the charging post made it difficult to see the instructions. The charger recognised the card straightaway and soon Rosie was sucking in the electrons. Seeing as I hadn’t used a lot of battery energy on the way to the charging point I didn’t need to stay there for too long. I think I had more than 60% of the battery left when I arrived.

I sat on a wall in the shade under the trees not far away from the car and I recorded some audio into a podcast on Anchor. While I was sitting there I saw a Nissan van eNV200 pull in and have a look at the charger. It was one of the vehicles from the Ajuntament and because I didn’t need to stay there for a full 30 minutes I left after 15. He was then able to plug in his van and I was on my way.

Lots of charging possibilities in Sant Cugat de-Vallés

I drove just 15 km away from the place where I just charged. I went to the shopping centre where there is another rapid charger. That’s the AMB rapid charger I have used in the past. I wasn’t planning to plug in with the rapid, so I drove into the parking place underneath the shopping centre. As you go in, right in front of you, you’ll see a set of four Type 2 charging points. I failed to spot them as I was too busy trying to avoid running into a one legged woman. She was hopping out across a poorly painted pedestrian area and I was paying more attention to her than what was directly in front of me for charging. It was only after I parked the car and walked back when I saw the charging facilities. I didn’t bother moving my car although I did think about testing the charge points later after I’d finished eating.

Easy and Free Charging Electric Cars In Barcelona

Meeting other 2018 Nissan Leaf Drivers

I didn’t need to plug in to test the chargers. I bumped into a driver of a 2018 Nissan Leaf who had just parked there as I was going back to my car. He didn’t know how to use the chargers and I was able to help him get started. It was a simple plug-in and no need to use any cards or applications to activate the charge point. We had a little chat about the car and charging. He was driving a demonstrator model from a dealer and was still discovering what the car could do. I was also able to help out with how to use the AMB application so he could do a rapid charge. The rapid charger in front of the shopping centre is by AMB. The guy was grateful for my words of wisdom and I was glad he changed from Catalan to Spanish so we could have an easier chat. As I was driving out of the parking area for the shopping centre I spotted another four charge points. I am completely impressed by the level of provision for electric vehicle car owners in this shopping centre. Charging Electric Barcelona.

Rubí Charging Electric Cars

Just a hop skip and a jump away is Rubí. I set the GPS via Plugshare and Waze and went on the hunt. The charging bays are next to the ajuntament. There’s one rapid and two type 2 posts.

I was disappointed to find the rapid was unavailable due to a Hyundai Ioniq being plugged in to the AC. It should have been using the Type 2 post. It wasn’t even a full BEV. I couldn’t use the DC charging while it was plugged in. Sloppy driver hadn’t even closed the window on the passenger side. I asked in the office so they could let the driver know. They had no idea who owned the car.

Free is always nice!

I wasn’t in real need of power so I wasn’t really bothered. It could have been annoying to someone with a low battery. While I was there a lady asked me if was going to be long at the Type 2 charger. I told her I would be happy to move on so she could plug in. Yet another PHEV wanting to partake of the free electric.

Finding another Barcelona charge point on the way home

The next charging point on my list and in the general direction of home was at Montcada I Reixac taking me towards the motorway by the sea. I set the GPS to guide me using Waze and I was soon able to pull in front of the charger. It’s right at the end of a road where you have to do a tight turn to get into it. You kind of have to pull around and then back into the spot. The charger was an AMB and activated using the application. The charger is in front of a library and swimming pool. I was able to get in and find some facilities. There’s a small café for snacks. Found a toilet in the entrance to the sports area. It was a good place to stop, pleasant and not at all dodgy. I stayed there about 15 minutes to get some free electrons into the car.

Keep Looking for More Chargers

So I still wanted to find another charging point I hadn’t used before and I saw that there was one at Cabrera de Mar. Another free rapid charger and also in the right direction towards home. It wasn’t too far away and I didn’t use a lot of energy out of the battery to get there. I still plugged in to test the functionality of the Barcelona rapid charger. I activated the charger using the Barcelona Live electric vehicle card and I was soon charging the car. It was in a car park near to the Ajuntament buildings. There was just the one charger with the two DC plugs and one AC. It’s possible to charge two vehicles at a time. One AC and one DC. I expect over time took more chargers will be added as electric cars become more popular.

Done for the day

That was my last charging experience for the day and I had plenty of kilometres in the GOM to get me home. In fact, I arrived back home with about 70% left in the battery. I drove around 200 km during the day and I estimate the total cost to be around one euro. That’s if I plug the car in my T2 in the garage at home and charge up the 30% of battery left using my own electricity. Or I could go on another trip and make use of the free public charging and I will have had a day out for free.

Excellent charging facilities in Barcelona, but??

What about elsewhere when charging electric cars? What’s it like when I travel further away in Spain? Will I have enough range in the car to get from one charging point to the next? Will I have the necessary RFID cards or applications to activate the charging points? By taking these trips out to find charges around Barcelona I have increased my confidence in being able to travel around the region. I’ll have to do more of these trips in Barcelona to locate more of the free charging points. The next big thing will be to go on a longer distance trip to test the charging possibilities in other cities. It will be interesting to see if other cities do free charging or will I have to pay? How easy or difficult it is going to be?