EV20Q Podcast – Mike Ward in Jersey

Talking to Mike Ward about EV’s and the Nissan Leaf

Mike is in the fortunate position of having three electric cars in the family. Indeed, extra fortunate that it is three Nissan Leaf vehicles parked on his front drive. He runs the Facebook group ‘I Spotted a Nissan Leaf’ which is where you can send a photo or just make a post to say you have seen a Nissan leaf in the wild. It’s a bit like ‘EV Bingo’ for just one make and model of car. It’s all a bit of fun really!

Nissan Leaf

A New Nissan Leaf Is Ordered

We talk about how Mike has taken the Nissan Leaf 2018 model for a drive and has put in an order for the car. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets his car before I get mine! He decided the features upgrade available on the new model are sufficient to make it well worth swapping one of the older models for a new Nissan Leaf.

The Channel Islands and Bergerac

Mike lives on the island of Jersey which is off the French coast, but is a part of the UK. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit because it always looked so picturesque in that TV series with a detective who drove around in a nice red old car. The series was called Bergerac featuring the actor John nettles and the car he drove was a 1947 Triumph. John nettles later wanted to live on the island but found it impossible to do so.

Jersey and Electric Vehicles

He tells me he’s seen three or four Jersey registered Tesla’s on the island. The small islands are perfect for the smaller vehicles and especially if their electric. They tend to have narrower roads and you can’t really clock up much mileage going from one end of the island to the other. Mike says there are quite a few electric cars registered and there are electric car chargers in many of the car parks. The car parking and the electric car charging is not terribly expensive. It would be mostly useful for tourists to the island because it would be difficult with a car like the 2018 Nissan Leaf to run out of range. When he tested the car he had it for a day and was unable to use all of a full battery. Mike had to give the car back with 39% still left available.

Old Smokers on Jersey

I was surprised when Mike told me that there is no MOT test in the Channel Islands. In the UK when a car is over three years old it needs to be tested every year. This isn’t the case in Jersey or Guernsey and because of this it’s likely to find old smokers pumping out more CO2 and particulates than would otherwise be the case. If a vehicle is still running the owner is less likely to change it. It can be costly to put a car through an MOT, sometimes to the point when it’s better to just upgrade to a new car. It could take some time and maybe a change in the regulations for the changeover from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles in the Channel Islands.

Listen to the Podcast

In the podcast we talk about plenty of other things as Mike is knowledgeable on the subject of electric vehicles. With three Nissan Leafs on his drive it’s unlikely if he’ll ever go back to driving an ICE car. He has said he will use a plug-in hybrid car for a long journey he is planning to make due to his experiences last time when going through France.

EV20Q Podcast featuring Paul Shadwell

I took great pleasure in interviewing Paul Shadwell for the EV20Q podcast to talk to him about his electric cars. I’ve interviewed Paul before on a podcast about using Mac and other Apple products. We also met at a Twitter meet up in Liverpool, England. A good guy to talk to about the Renault Zoe and the Tesla Model S.

Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe is a gateway drug to electric vehicles

Paul tells me they visited the Renault dealership to check out available cars. The salesman showed them the Renault Zoe electric vehicle and after a short test drive, Paul and his girlfriend were hooked. Living in Switzerland means it’s necessary to drive up hills and Paul was amazed that the little Zoe exhibited good acceleration in these situations. It wasn’t too long after living the Renault Zoe electric car experience Paul checked out the Tesla model S. With the longer range available with the bigger and more luxurious car it would be perfect for longer journeys. He did do a couple of slightly longer journeys with the Zoe that maybe is better suited to using around the town.

Charging the cars

It seems there are plenty of Tesla Superchargers around Switzerland and in fact there are superchargers dotted all around Europe. They are a maximum of about 200 km apart and many of them much closer. We discussed how easy it is to plan a journey using the software in the Tesla. The in car navigation system will show all of the superchargers on a route. This made it easy for Paul to drive the car to Disneyland in Paris. He’s also done trips to the UK and to the south of France in the Tesla.

It’s not just electric cars

Personally, I’m not fond of the large and unwieldy Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Paul on the other hand is an aficionado of those sorts of motorcycles. We talked briefly about the latest news from Harley Davidson to say they are working on an electric motorbike. I’ve seen a photograph of the electric Harley-Davidson and it does look quite nice. I still think that the diehard followers of that type of bike are not going to like it. I would like to ride one of those Zero Electric bikes as they are supposed to be extremely nippy and fun to ride.

Harly Davidson Electric

The Geneva motor show

The Geneva motor show is coming up soon and Paul will be going there to check out the latest electric vehicles. It’ll certainly be cool to check out the iPace electric Jaguar. I’m sure there will be plenty of other electric cars to drool over at the Geneva motor show. I wouldn’t surprised if the the new concept cars are there from Volkswagen. I have already started to save money for the iBuzz which should be on the roads in 2022.

Plugshare or NextCharge

Yesterday I was doing more research into the options for planning journeys and finding electric charge points. Someone added ZapMap to the list of choices available in the poll that I put on Facebook in the 2018 Nissan Leaf Group. Someone else asked me to add an application called Nextcharge which I’ve had a brief look at and is fairly impressive. I don’t think any of these type of applications are perfect.

Plugshare

The app that I like the most at the moment is PlugShare because you can put in your start point, your endpoint and then add the charging waypoints along the way. It gives you a notification along the route of how many kilometres travelled since the last charging stop. You can set the vehicle in the settings and then adjust the vehicle range. There are two settings, one of which is a lower number at 190 km for the Nissan Leaf and the other one called Starting Vehicle Range which is set at 240 km. These numbers can be changed in 10km, increments. So you tell the application to find routes and depending on where you’re going you’ll get two or three possibilities. On the map then you will see your route and they’ll be three markers to give you an idea of when you should be looking for a charging solution. When you select sufficient charges to complete the route will see the route split into coloured sections on the map. It’s also possible to see the route as a list. If you go into the area called Me there are charging stations you’ve bookmarked and in the trip planner you have trips you created previously.

Next Charge application

When you first open this application it shows you the nearest stations to you. Obviously using the GPS to locate your position. On mine upon opening up while at home I can see I have a couple of charging stations only 11 km away with the Type II connection available as well as the Shuko connector. Then there’s a rapid charger with a CHAdeMO only 19 km away. If you tap on the button **Directions** you get to choose from the mapping applications you have on your device. I can go to Apple Maps, Google Maps or Waze. If you hit the orange button on the top right-hand corner you may choose **Itinerary**. You only get a limited number of itineraries to use although you can create more by adding to the application, crowd source style.

Using NextCHargeWhen creating your itinerary you have to manually put in the origin. It should really give an option to use current location as your starting point. You then choose your destination and the vehicle, if you haven’t already selected it previously. There is an options button in which you can set the speed and payload capacity by using sliders. Another slider will set the area to search for charging stations and a couple of checkboxes if you want to avoid highways and avoid tolls. It’s also possible to set the desired time of departure or arrival. There are a bunch of other settings for the speed of the chargers, network, access, type of connector. When you go to the next step you get the map with a route and the strange message saying “Click STOP To Start”.

Split your route into sections

Now it’s time to split the journey up into sections based up the use of energy from your battery. There are markers on the route in percentages at 10% increments. When you click on the button STOP the charge points available on the route show up. Choose one of the available charge points along the route. NextCharge assumes you can charge up to 80% battery level before you move on. So you do the same again looking for suitable charge points along the marked out route. There’s information about the charge station and you swipe up to see more. You’ll get to see the hours the charger is available and which type of connections and whether or not it’s public access. It’s a pretty good way of setting up your itinerary for vehicle charging. When you chosen your charging points for the whole of the journey it will tell you that the itinerary is completed.

NextCharge

The next screen shows you the details of the journey with a list of all of the charge points. There’s also a graph to show you the elevation above sea level of your drive along your journey. The next tab along is called Next. There are two choices. One is to embed the route in your website. There is supposed to be code for you to copy. I couldn’t see that in the application. If you want to share the itinerary have to first save it, even though there was no save button on that page. How weird is that? I tried a lot of different application views but I couldn’t find a save button anywhere.

So I left the itinerary planning to go back to the initial application view and then returned to itineraries. Amazingly, there was now a save button. I was then able to share it out as an email with a link which links to a webpage with an option at the top to open up the Nextcharge application. It didn’t work, the map just showed me a random spot in Spain. Clicking on details did show the list of charge points on the route. This hid the map from view, not a problem as the route was still not on screen. There is a little button to the right of the first charge point, I tapped on that to get a screen called Navigate. Hitting that button sent me to the mapping application. It would have been nice to have a choice of which application to use for the maps. Apple Maps is rubbish and I would have preferred to use Google maps or Waze. The flow of using the app is not at all smooth. The rough edges are still showing.

How good is Nextcharge?

Overall it is not that bad. I like the way on the map it shows the percentage left on the cars’ battery when it’s helping you choose the next charging station. It’s not very good at sharing out your itinerary. It only seems to save the latest itinerary you’ve made. It would be useful if you could see a list of previously created itineraries. It’s possible though to bookmark or save charging stations as favourites. The markings for the charging stations on the map show you whether it is available, occupied, unknown, closed for maintenance or just planned. The Nextcharge application is pretty good for finding out where the best charging stations are on your route. It’s also useful to show you where the nearest chargers are to your current location.

Overview of NextCharge

The application doesn’t always show all charge points available. There are a couple of charge points in Girona which I know are up and running, but were not on the map. At least with this being crowd sourced information these other charge points can be added. In fact, it is expected of you to comment, add photos and add information about charging stations whenever you can. Over time the application could get better and it needs to. Improvement is required in the way the route planning and itinerary organisation works in the application. When the charging point is not directly on the route the directions on the map don’t guide you out to the charge point. NextCharge is more for setting it up and then you need to get the route organised in a proper maps application. On a longer route with many stops that could get tedious or messy. The basic operation of the application is a work in progress and requires more work on it. Overall I like it and I can see myself using it despite some of the working areas of the app needing improvement. In some ways NextCharge is comparable with Plugshare. Both apps have pros and cons. I think I’d keep an eye on both and see if one comes out a clear winner either in terms of capabilities or just preference to use when needed.

Electric Vehicle Route Planning

Electric vehicle route planning – When I get my electric car, the 2018 Nissan Leaf, I’ll be working for the summer and my journeys are going to be restricted to a short journey to work and back. I only get one day off per week so there are not going to be many opportunities to do longer excursions. It seems a little bit of a shame because I’m looking forward to the fun of electric vehicle route planning. From what I’ve seen so far in videos and read on blog posts it’s a really good idea to do route planning before you set out. You really don’t want to be in the situation of having range anxiety or high and dry without electrons. It’s not going to be much fun to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no power left in the battery of the car. So you need to make sure before you set out there are going to be sufficient charging point on the way. Better still if you can have a number of charge point options. This is to take into account the possibility of a charge point not working and you needing to find one nearby. Or the chargers are all occupied and waiting in not an option. You want to make sure you’re going to be able to complete your journey.

 Electric vehicle route planning

A proper long journey in an electric vehicle

I’d really like to do a journey all around the Peninsula containing Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar.  Electric vehicle route planning is going to factor high in the list of priorities. My starting point will be in the north-east in Catalonia 100 km away from the French border. The plan will be to go south and visit towns like Tarragona, Valencia and Alicante. To keep costs down I will make it a camping trip. I expect I’ll be able to charge up overnight in camp sites. Also want to check out the public chargers along the way to see how easy it is to use these as a traveller. I’ll drive from east to west at the bottom of the peninsula and arrive in Portugal. Then I’ll travel north until I get back into Spain again in Galicia and the Basque country. From there it’ll be just a hop skip and a jump in the foothills of the Pyrenees going east to Catalonia. A good trip with good  electric vehicle route planning.  The journey is going to be at least 2700 km and I’ve no idea how long it will take. I don’t want to have it as a sprint where I don’t get to experience any of the towns and cities along the way. It will be much more fun to stop and explore, especially as I haven’t yet seen places like Bilbao, Sevilla and Granada.

Electric vehicle route planning a trip to Madrid

Madrid is another city in Spain I haven’t yet visited. This would be good as a medium length journey to test out the capabilities of the 2018 Nissan Leaf. How do we go about planning the route to get us to Madrid? Here are some of the possibilities.

  • Use the route planning system in the car.
  • Make use of the route planner in the Nissan EV Connect application.
  • Use Google maps to pinpoint waypoints and then use the cars ‘Nearby Chargers’ feature while travelling. When the car looks like it needs some juice, check to see what’s nearby and then go and find it.
  • Find charging points along your route using application specific to the various networks. Here in Spain there is one I can use called IBIL which has electric chargers in filling stations around the country. (Not many places yet.)
  • There are a number of applications which show charge points from a collection of suppliers, such as OpenChargeMap, PlugShare, NextCharge, ChargeMap and others. Within these applications you can find the charging points to book, use and to pay as well as sometimes being able to plan your route.

Let’s have a look at a few of these applications and make some comparisons. I’m still waiting for the car to arrive so I’ll start with the third party options.

Hello and Welcome to EV20Q Podcast

Introductions

I am a newbie to driving an EV. Still waiting for the delivery of my Nissan Leaf 2018 at the time of writing. Mind you I’ve always had a deep interest in renewables and used an electric bicycle for the last three or four years. In this podcast I talk about Electric vehicle and introduce myself an in future podcasts I plan to have guests on the show to tell us about their experiences. I think we will all learn a lot.

I will be writing posts just about my experiences with the Nissan Leaf and the audio podcasts will mostly be interviews. There will be video blogging type podcasts added as the podcast grows.